Lonely Planet Writer

Get inspired to travel with the Forbes top 10 travel influencers of 2017 list

For many travel fanatics, a quick scroll through your social media might turn up any number of dreamy landscapes, envy-inducing activities and seemingly perfect lives. And the people behind them? If they’re successful enough, they’ve gained the title ‘influencer’.

Young woman uses laptop computer, on hillside above sea
The image of travel influencer can be a glamourous one. Image by Ascent/PKS Media Inc.

Social media influencing is an increasingly important element of marketing and goes beyond just sponsored ads; if an influencer has built enough trust with their audience, their recommendation can go a long way. Now Forbes has named their top ten travel influencers in 2017.

1. Brian Kelly – The Points Guy

Brian Kelly started his blog The Points Guy in an effort to document his tips on how to get more credit card points and maximise frequent flyer miles. Now it’s a website with 20 writers, editors and more detailing the best deals, guides to loyalty programmes and even travel videos.

2. Kiersten Rich – The Blonde Abroad

When Kiersten decided to quit her corporate finance job, she probably didn’t think it would lead to a full-time career. Yet four years on, she travels at least nine months of the year and documents her travels on her blog and Instagram. She makes her money from affiliate programmes, creating content and consulting on matters of social media and blogging.

3. Murad and Nataly Osmann

This pair have probably the most recognisable and iconic travel photos in their gorgeous #FollowMeTo series. It’s the pose that launched a thousand imitators but it’s turned into a career for the glamourous pair; they’ve since launched a jewelry line.

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4. Eric Stoen – TravelBaboo

More and more people are choosing not to abandon their travel plans once they have kids, instead opting to bring them with them. It’s a niche that’s proved incredibly successful and Eric has 180,000 followers across his social media platforms. He’s even worked with Lonely Planet Kids and is also a Pathfinder.

5. Damon and Jo – Shut Up and Go

After bonding over their mutual love of travel and their impressive combined linguistic abilities, the Brazilian-American pair decided to film their budget travel adventures for YouTube, including series in French, Spanish, German, Italian and Portuguese. With such global appeal, it’s unsurprising brands like MTV and Toyota want to work with them.

6. Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil – The Planet D

This pair have always been an adventurous couple and after 20 years, have been to more than 100 countries together. After eight years in the blogging business, they have more than two million followers, attracting big name brands like Expedia that help continue to fund their travels. They’re also active Lonely Planet Pathfinders.

7. Louis Cole – FunForLouis

Another YouTuber, Louis posts daily vlogs of his travels on his channel, clocking up more than 1500 in total over the last four years. Next up is a crowdfunded feature-length documentary which will follow him and a friend travelling the globe in a light aircraft.

8. John DiScala – Johnny Jet

Forbes named DiScala “the original travel influencer”, having started his points newsletter in 1995. Twenty-two years later, Johnny still writes for his website, recently including his first flight with his new baby. His website has grown to dozens of contributors and the site still has a special emphasis on deals and credit card loyalty programmes.

9. Chris Burkard

A self-taught photographer, Chris has 2.6 million followers on Instagram and has a special interest in the coldest regions of the world, as well as surfing. As well as books, art prints, workshops and talks, he recently teamed up to help protect Iceland’s highlands.

A post shared by ChrisBurkard (@chrisburkard) on

10. Kate McCulley – Adventurous Kate

Kate presents herself as the “ultimate guide to solo female travel”, an area of the travel market that continues to grow and grow. As well as the traditional affiliate campaigns and creating branded content, she also runs tours and continues to make it her mission to get women to travel independently and safely and has recently turned her hand to more political content and ethical travel and influencing.