Circa 2023, people are still managing to earn a living by vlogging their travels across Asia. Most aim for a monetized YouTube channel as their earning foundation income stream. But to get a channel going, you’ll need to cover travel costs. According to three full-time YouTubers, you’ll need between USD $10,000-$20,000 to cover a year of self-funded travel. Then, if your efforts are successful, you can roughly earn between $1000 to $3000 per month.
A decade ago, teaching English was the easiest way for western college grads to fund travels through Asia. These days, that market is saturated with certified teachers jostling for 75K Thai Baht (USD$2100) salaries(1).
Unqualified western college grads will struggle applying to traditional (teaching or corporate) jobs in Asia. On the flip side, anyone with enough time, talent, and money can start a YouTube channel and work towards monetization.
To get started, you’ll need to set up a YouTube account, a channel, and an Adsense account(2). Then you need to meet one of these YouTube Partner Program eligibility thresholds:
- Get 1,000 subscribers with 4,000 valid public watch hours in the last 12 months, or…
- Get 1,000 subscribers with 10 million valid public Shorts views in the last 90 days.
How Much $$ To Monetize A Travel Vlog?
Starting an Asia travel vlog requires travel and video production expenses. Below, three YouTubers share their experiences with costs:
Gabe & Monica: $20,000 For 6 Months
They quit their corporate jobs in New York and decided on having USD $20,000 apiece to fund six months in Asia (around USD $3300 per month). That’s on the higher end, but far from a full-blown luxury level.
At present, their channel is 5 months old. They’ve made 13 videos (around 2.5 per month) and have gained 361 subscribers.
Result: At the cost of USD $40,000, their YoutTbe channel investment did not pay off .
YouTube Channel: Gabe And Monica
Rory & Casey: $13,461 Per Year
This couple started vlogging in Asia in 2019. They went the budget route, spending around $13,461 apiece to fund a year of travel ($1121 per month).
They made it through the usual spots: Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. They made 102 videos and gained 2.63K subscribers. Many videos failed to crack 1,000 views.
Result: they together spent around $26,000 for a year of ultra-budget hostel backpacking. Their YouTube channel investment did not pay off .
YouTube Channel: Rory And Casey
Vlog Dead Horse: £16,000 To Monetization
This Englishman started up his channel in October 2020. It took him 5 weeks to get monetized. Then, he started earning around £3 per day. After a year and £16,000 spent, his channel started generating enough to cover his travel expenses.
In his earnings video, he said that generating around 20,000 views within 48 hours would make a video a good earner. £995 in earnings was his worst month in recent memory; £2700 was his best.
He said “that’s how much it costs me to buy this life. And now I’ve got this [a steady income stream] for the rest of my days.” Sadly, it was not meant to be. He’s now back in the UK lamenting the lack of vlogging opportunities there.
Result: it cost him 1 year and £1600 (USD $20352) to build a YouTube travel channel that pays for itself. Even so, he only earned 15.9K subscribers and he’s now back in the UK.
YouTube Channel: Vlogging A Dead Horse
Planet Asia’s 2007 Vlogging Failure
Back in 2006, YouTube monetization didn’t yet exist. So there was very little travel vlog content online. As well, the idea of traveling around Asia was far from the mainstream. I decided to take advantage of that by vlogging my way through India.
I only made a few videos before giving up. Very quickly, I found one major problem: the lack of a story on the tourist trail. Other than market hunts, crowded traffic, and food, there was nothing else to film.
Biggest Hurdle: Lack Of A Story
In 2023, it costs around $20,000 to vlog across Southeast Asia for a year. If you’re consistently making good-quality videos, it’s possible to generate enough from your channel to cover your travel expenses for one year.
But even if you make it that far, sustaining it is a different challenge. In fact, all three YouTube channels cited in this article faced the same problem I did back in 2006: the lack of a compelling story.
No matter where you go in Asia, travel is the same. Beyond market hunts, beer bars and noodle shacks, the only thing to film is noisy, gridlocked traffic.
Bottom line: you can invest one year and $20,000 to develop a monetized YouTube travel vlog. But without a clear storytelling mission, you’ll be stuck doing generic market hunts and noodle reviews. That investment is highly unlikely to pay off. Buyer beware.
- Reddit. ‘Is it possible to get jobs at International Schools in Thailand while still in the process of getting my certification (license) for the US?’. April 15 2023, Bangkok International School Salary Tiers, (accessed 28 June 2023).
- support.google.com/. ‘YouTube Partner Program overview & eligibility’. 2023, https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/72851?hl, (accessed 28 June 2023).