Travel videos, like any video, should have a story arc, i.e. a beginning, middle and end to each sequence, and overall beginning (arrival? preparation?  research?), middle (you're there) and end (you leave).  What's your attitude about where you went, and does it come through in the video? 

Pick a recurring theme -- whether it's "weird pets we encountered", or, "expensive art we can't afford", or, "yet another search for a restroom", etc., and work it into the final production.  Needless to say, this is not something you can pick ahead of time, so stay alert and shoot LOTS and LOTS of video as you go. 

To accomplish this, you need to shoot B-roll, i.e. background shots to which you can cut for continuity.  You also need POV (point of view) shots, reaction shots, etc. just like any commercial movie. 

Don't rely solely on wide shots.  Do close ups and two shots of the "stars".  Find interesting little details in the environment.  Put depth in your shots by including foreground elements -- don't just shoot beautiful vistas. 

To the extent that you're able (and it can be difficult with consumer cameras) vary depth of field, i.e. the background doesn't always have to be in sharp focus. 

Also, it is critical that you concern yourself with pacing.  Most amateur travel video uses shots that are far too long.  For example, the HV20 has a 10-second timer for shots.  I hardly ever use a shot that is more than 4 seconds, and most of them are in the 3-second range.  Mix up your shot length, but keep overall pacing in mind. 

Be selective when you edit.  Everything doesn't belong in the final production.  Decide what shots are important, which are redundant, and which are unnecessary.  Only use the important shots and, once you've selected them, go through them again to weed out the chaff. 

When traveling, people are generally more interesting than scenery.  You're trying to capture the experience of the trip, not a series of postcards. 

Use music (buy local CDs) to set the mood, establish rhythm, define atmosphere, etc. 

DON'T use a bunch of special effects.  99.99% of your transitions should either be straight dissolves or cuts.  However, DO use L- or J-cuts in which the sound of the previous or subsequent scene is carried into the shot.  (For how to do this, go to -- www.videomaker.com/article/13532.) 

Practice good hand-held technique to get the steadiest video possible.  Shaky video looks awful. 

Paul Tauger  www.travelersvideo.com