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Jacob Fu is one of the adventure inclined, travel gurus behind the hit travel lifestyle blog, Local Adventurer. The blog was recently named one of the Top 5 Travel Blogs in the US and World, and for good reason. Six continents later, Local Adventurer covers everything an aspiring traveler or seasoned traveler needs to know from firsthand experience.
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How it all Started
While Fu’s dad instilled his love for travel with trips to Indonesia to visit extended family and both domestic and international trips from the States as a kid, he has not always pursued his dreams of travel for a living. After college, Fu worked a corporate job in sales and account managing for 5 years until he quit and helped his wife Esther run her photography business.
While managing the photography business, he and his brother started their own YouTube channel which eventually led them to relocate to Los Angeles to chase their dreams of making their YouTube a full-time gig. His wife Esther was the first to begin travel blogging as a hobby while Fu and his brother focused on YouTube. As Esther grew and began to strategize Local Adventurer, Fu transitioned into helping her full-time.
Local Adventurer did not have any large spike in growth, rather the audience slowly grew over time. Growth came with a lot of time learning new skills, trial and error, and creating quality content. Fu notes how the landscape of the industry continuously changes. These changes range from the Google Algorithm or how Local Adventurer works and interacts with brands. In spite of these challenges, Fu and his team adjust and continue to learn to adjust to the market. He attributes the success of Local Adventurer to the countless hours they’ve put in behind the screen editing, learning SEO (search engine optimization), working on the site, and building relationships with the brands.
Local Adventurer reaches out to brands that they love, and brands approach them for partnerships as well. A mixture of emails, calls, and marketplace platforms is used. Some of their favorite brands are ones they work with long term such as REI, B&H, Visit California, Travel Nevada, and Aramark. Fu also mentioned the fun they’ve had working with brands that don’t necessarily fit in just the travel world, like Kleenex and Swiffer.
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Local Adventurer in Action
The past seven years have been filled with packing and moving to a new city every year and calling it home for 365 days. Relocating enables Fu and his wife to explore local spots in-depth and go on road trips close to home, but that doesn’t mean they don’t catch flights every once in a while. The typical timeline to visit a destination ranges between five to seven days. Fu recalls at their busiest they were gone traveling 50% of the year, but the ideal travel schedule would be 30% of the year dedicated to flight travel, and the remaining time spent exploring closer to where home is that year for the couple.
Fu’s favorite destination they’ve traveled to so far has been the Galapagos Islands because of the wildlife there. He really enjoyed researching and taking photos during the trip. An experience that pushed him out of his comfort zone the most was swimming with whale sharks. Fu and his wife Esther are not extremely comfortable in the ocean, so he mentions how adding in giant creatures and potential jellyfish put them on edge. However, that did not stop it from being one of the most memorable experiences.
Before any trip, Fu states quite a bit of time is spent researching the best sights to see, great photo spots, and yummy food spots. After compiling a list, an itinerary is created outlining where to be during the best photo hours, sunrise and sunset, and where to eat that day. The rest of the day and the itinerary is on a loose list that they do their best to fit in. A loose itinerary also enables flexibility to throw in must-do’s that are learned about from the locals.
When handling the monster of any trip, packing, Fu says pack light. He recalls that despite the length of any trip, he and his wife have always packed in carry-on bags. You can typically spot Fu carrying a backpack and a small roller suitcase to carry everything he needs. Packing light keeps the couple mobile and they’ve found they can fit everything they need into those bags.
On an ideal day at home, Fu wakes up early to start working and handling brand tasks. Then, a list of what needs to be accomplished that day is made. Sometimes the day is spent shooting products and other times the day is spent putting time in on the computer. Outside of traveling, Fu and Esther love climbing. When they’re not traveling and working on the blog, you can find the pair at the climbing gym or local climbing spots.
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Advice for the Ages
Fu has a few words of wisdom for those looking to join the travel industry and see the world. He recommends, “Think about it seriously and figure out what success looks like to you. Anytime you turn a passion into a job, you risk turning it into something you don’t enjoy anymore. We’ve talked to a lot of people who have decided they’d rather just travel to enjoy it. If you decide to pursue it, don’t just focus on content creation but also learn skills like SEO, sales, and account managing. They are just as important to making your business a success,” – Jacob Fu.
Looking to the Future
In 10 years, Fu hopes they are still inspiring others to explore their greater backyard! They came into the business knowing it changes quickly and while they work on Local Adventurer as if they will be doing it for the next ten years, they review yearly if it’s still a viable business to be in.
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