Like many couples, last spring Giselle Langley and Stephen Jiroch found themselves at home with a lot of free time on their hands. Langley, a marketing director, and Jiroch, a tae kwon do instructor and studio owner, were sheltering in place in Los Angeles when Langley posed a question: “Want to start a couple’s travel blog?”
“We had never really picked up a camera before—but we did like going on road trips and hiking and camping together,” she explains. One year later, after dozens of weekends spent safely exploring California from Redwood National and State Parks to Death Valley, the couple now runs The Lovers Passport, a popular adventure travel site powered by a TikTok channel that already has 134,000-plus followers.
While Langley and Jiroch have a presence on every major social media platform, they credit their accelerated success to TikTok, the short-form video-sharing app that’s predicted to hit 1.2 billion global users in 2021. Langley thinks she knows why: “On TikTok, you can blow up at any time—anyone can see your content.” Unlike Instagram or Facebook, which center on following friends or public figures, TikTok puts content first—and an algorithm predicts which content users will enjoy.
When it comes to travel-based posts, TikTok’s bite-sized videos are excellent fodder for a destination bucket list. “The video format adds something more than just your standard blog,” says Langley. “You can really get a feel for the place before you go.”
Langley and Jiroch believe there’s no better place to travel, create, and share than their home state. “California has everything,” she says. “You can go from beach to forest to mountain to desert to any sort of landscape within a couple of hours.” (To see this full spectrum, check out Visit California’s own TikTok channel.)
Your Guide to Going Viral
For those hoping to document their travels on TikTok, Jiroch recommends jumping in headfirst. “Don’t be afraid to post,” he says. “A lot of the time, videos we worked really hard on will get no traction—and then a little panorama that took no time [to create] will get 500,000 views.”
Preethi Chandrasekhar, founder of The Eager Traveler, started her TikTok journey in early spring 2021 and did so without any fancy equipment. “I shoot everything on my iPhone,” she says. While TikTok has its own editing capabilities, Chandrasekhar prefers using the apps InShot or Spark Camera for more creative control before uploading the finished product. Langley and Jiroch edit with Final Cut Pro.
Chandrasekhar adds that if your goal is going viral, it’s a good idea to pay attention to trending music—users can search for videos through popular songs—and to be mindful about your messaging. “TikTok videos don’t need to be super curated or beautiful,” she says. Instead, Chandrasekhar focuses on providing informational travel content. “I try to talk to women and women of color about the outdoors: What kind of gear you should buy or what you should do as a beginner hiker,” she says.
Find Travel Inspiration
You don’t need to be an aspiring media brand to enjoy the travel content on TikTok. Chandrasekhar, Langley, and Jiroch all use the platform to target new adventures. “We have a whole saved album on our phone of TikTok inspiration videos,” says Langley. “I remember seeing Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and planning a trip shortly after.”
If you’re curious about a specific aspect of California travel, TikTok’s powerful algorithm will do much of the work for you. For instance, if you “like” one video featuring brunch spots in San Diego, 10 more similar posts are sure to be sent your way in quick succession. Jiroch also recommends searching hashtags that reflect your interests. His personal favorite is #Californiahiddengems. “You can always find tons of swimming spots or different hidden things to see,” he says.
Here are a few viral videos featuring California travel content.
Explore Death Valley
Find breathtaking landscapes in California’s largest national park alongside Langley and Jiroch: “Death Valley is one of our favorite spots. You can spend days looking at the different textures of the valleys and the sand dunes.”
Chandrasekhar says this park’s “otherworldly scenery” makes for an amazing video—but it’s even more impressive in person.
Watch a Movie Under the Stars in San Diego
Watch an Amazing San Francisco Sunset
Photographer Shane Ware shows how, once a year, the golden hour in the Golden City creates a picture-perfect moment.
Defy Gravity in Santa Cruz
See the mind-boggling Mystery Spot through the eyes of content creator Kayla Freitas.
Road Trip Through Northern California
Take in highlights from travel blogger Jessica Wright’s road trip up the California coast with stops at Nick’s Cove in Point Reyes, Timber Cove Resort in Jenner, Glendeven Inn in Mendocino, the Avenue of the Giants, and Fern Canyon near Trinidad.