It’s with great sadness that we’ve had to take a walk back into the classroom and do another Lesson From Jean aka the #dontbeadick series. Today students we are going to cover a very important and overly simple topic- How to behave on a FAM trip. I almost feel as if this is the same as saying don’t forget your clean underwear or socks go on your feet. However in recent weeks there have been more and more whispers, murmurs and horror tales about bloggers, influencers, social media monkeys acting like utter twats on FAM trips.
What is a FAM trip?
A FAM (familiarization trip) was originally a way for brands, locations, tourism boards, airlines etc to educate the media and travel professionals on a location. It’s a very short, very intense introduction to a specific area, showcasing services on offer. Generally these trips were created for media, travel agents and the likes. A way to educate and give real life experience on an area to staff thus making it easier and more convincing to sell to you and I. Then came along the revolution of social media, travel bloggers and the like. Tourism boards, PR agencies and governments alike started to realise the benefit for including travel bloggers* on FAM trips.
As things have evolved there are now entire FAM trips catered to for travel bloggers.
*The term travel bloggers will be used for the ease of this rant, covering all content creators under the travel umbrella.
What happens on a FAM trip?
What happens on a FAM trip stays on FAM trip? Ah no. Not at all. FAM trips are all about the content creation and promotion. So you will be under surveillance all the time by your hosts. Ok that sounds a lot worse than what it actually is. A FAM trip is really there to show you all the wonderful, magical things on offer in this area.
There’s no set formula for how a FAM trip runs. I’ve been on three this year and each one was run 100% differently. Depending on your host will depend on how much free time you have during the trip. From previous experiences the host has a whole lot that you need to see and do in a superbly short space of time.
Arrival in country/area/meeting point.
Go do activities – sleep – more activities. Repeat.
Depart country- recuperate- create content
Be nice to your host
Be nice to your host. Depending on who has organised the FAM trip this is most likely not your hosts primary job. The hosts job is to facilitate between yourself and the local community. Whether this be the hotel, local people or a restaurant for example. The host may order food for the group, arrange additional activities or introduce you to local politicians.
The host really is a glorified adult babysitter doing their best to give you the best experience within their own capabilities and connections. Being a dick to the host is a big No.
Respect the local community
What are you wearing?
So without slapping in you the face from Captain Obvious this is an issue that’s come up time and time again. Respecting the local community. You might love your hot pants and harness bra and want to flaunt it. I get it. You want to be a crowd pleasure while you still can. Let’s just take a moment out of the makeup bag and consider the people who might be looking at you. Not surprisingly there are entire communities of people who are far more conservative then your wardrobe and don’t want to see your butt cheeks peeping out.
Religious tattos can be taboo to a lot of communities. That peaceful buddha or graceful Ganesh may look delightful on your lower legs to you and me. Some people may find that less kawaii and more horrendously offensive. Simple solution- cover up.
Ban the booze.
Well perhaps not ban it as I’m a huge wine lover but when on a FAM trip you need to consider the local customs, actions and current situations. There are some areas that I’ve travelled to where alcohol abuse is a serious issue, leading to domestic violence and a whole big can of worms that I’m not popping open here. Walking around with a 6pack of beer and a superiority complex isn’t going to go down well with the local community. Whilst this may not have much an affect on your trip it can impact the impression and actions of the community on the next tourist to come through. Generally speaking in areas like this keep your alcohol consumption to during or after dinner when you and you’re group are alone in your accommodation.
If in doubt ask your host.
Respect other trip members
Let’s think about the sort of people who you might be traveling with on a group trip. Most likely they will be just like you on paper. Well connected to a large online community. Vocal within this community. Engaged with their community and the general internet world. What I’m trying to say is that upsetting or being a dick towards other people on your trip will end badly for you. It may not happen then and there but it will happen. The travel blogging community is still rather small and well connected. People will remember that you were a dick and will take that into consideration when considering working with you again.
Things to avoid-
- Pushing in during a photo opportunity
- Pushing in at the food line
- Smelling bad
- Loud proclamations such as – Don’t you know who I am? I’m a travel blogger and expect…
- Generally being rude to host, community members and puppies.
This isn’t a free holiday
I’m sorry, not sorry to burst your bubble here. A FAM trip is not a free holiday for you to get loose on. A FAM trip in the best light could be considered a working holiday. You are there to experience the people, places and activities on offer. To put it politely you need to participate, take notes, take photos look interested. Even if you don’t necessarily agree with what’s on offer.
In exchange for this trip you need to give back something in a timely manner. Whether this is a series of Instagram posts, Facebook shout outs or blog posts this part is totally up to you.
Manage your own expectations
There’s a new wave of expectation in the travel blogger community that when you go on a FAM trip you will be treated like a magical unicorn upon a golden thrown of buttercups. Only to be pampered, feed champagne via a silver spoon and teeny tiny grapes by a miniature monkey.
Let me educate you my friends. You are just a person. A singular person in a very crowded pond. As an adult you are responsible for your own feelings, actions and body odors.
So why go on a FAM trip?
FAM trips are wonderful ways to explore new areas that you may not generally get to or even consider. I’d never in a million frequent flyer miles have considered Raja Ampat as a destination. These trips are also a fantastic way to create connections with other travel bloggers and can lead to life long friendships and collaboration opportunities.
Have you been on a FAM trip? Let us know in the comments below.
Founder, Principal Blogger & Coffee Drinker
Coffee Lover | Travel Blogger | Horse Rider | Adventure Racer | Donut Dame. Generally nice lady-enjoys wine, indie movies & random dance parties in my tent.
Just a little FYI- this article was written in partnership with me and me! Any and all views and opinions expressed are entirely my own based on personal experiences when traveling and are honest and factual without any bias. There are no spammy whore affiliate links here. Any links to websites are for your help only.