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The Inside: Travelling For Work As a Model

When on an international contract, you are usually based in one city but your agency will have you available for clients all over the country. It is extremely common in places like China and India for models to be travelling to other cities often but it happens in many countries. Sometimes it is just a day trip and sometimes the client will put you up in a hotel overnight. I’ve done both types of travelling for work and I have stayed on overnight trips two separate times. Both experiences were drastically different but interesting nonetheless.

When I was in Indonesia I was based in Jakarta but it was common for clients in the neighbouring city of Bandung to hire Jakarta based models for the day because that’s where the majority of models live. I got to travel to Bandung a few separate times. The day would start at about 4 am, I would take a taxi to the bus station and take a three hour bus to the city, then I would take another taxi to the location for the day. Usually they would buy me breakfast and coffee but not always, and we would start makeup at 8–9 am. We would shoot for a few hours, then take lunch for an hour, and the client would order me lunch. We would shoot for a few more hours and then I would head back to the bus station to go back to Jakarta and would usually arrive home around 9 or 10. The days lasted about 16 hours and were very exhausting, but it was always cool to get the opportunity to see another place. I liked Bandung, it’s much smaller than Jakarta so the energy was different and I thought it was quite cute. Day trips like this are quite common, they’re extremely long and very tiring, but you just have to put your head down and work.

In India, I only travelled out of Bangalore once, though it was common for models to travel all over the country for work. I was booked for a big campaign in Chennai, which is on the ocean in the southeast of India. I went with 3 other models, two from my agency in Bangalore and one model who travelled from Mumbai. They flew us out and put us in a hotel for three nights as the shoot was for 2 days. The first day we arrived we had fittings, the second day was the photoshoot and the third was a night shoot from 6pm to 6 am, where we shot the videos. Both shoots were 12 hours long, it was a really big production and we had such a good time. We spent most of the shoot days inside trailers on couches when we weren’t shooting, and they gave us breakfast and lunch on set. The hotel was quite nice and we got lots of room service. It’s always nice to have a comfy bed, since model apartments are usually not so comfy, so I enjoyed that. The shoot days were very long but overall it was a good experience with quite a nice hotel and amenities for a model who is travelling. This is an example of a fancier trip, we all felt quite well taken care of, but these trips aren’t usually this glamorous.

Just this past week here in Malaysia I had a 2 day shoot on Penang Island, which is a 4 hour train ride from KL. The team and the shooting was amazing, I loved the brand and all the photos and videos turned out great. The team was very kind and fun and I had a great time. I am happy with how all the photos and videos turned out and I can’t wait to see the final result. The actual travel part wasn’t as glamorous, but that’s much more standard for these kinds of bookings, since it can be expensive to bring a model from out of town. The hotel I stayed in was a budget hotel, and they had no receptionists at night. I arrived at 11pm and it was locked. I had to call a number and wait alone on the street at night for almost an hour before they responded and gave me the code to get inside. The room was fine, it was clean which is all I really care about, but I had a rough sleep since I was wired from the struggles of actually getting inside. The two days of shooting were good, and the clients were super nice and gave me breakfast and lunch, but I was pretty tired both days. On my way home, I was very tired and distracted, and I ended up getting on the wrong train… By the time I got back to the correct station, there were no more trains to Kuala Lumpur until the morning, so I had to book another hotel and stay another night. (Yes I am an idiot… It’s fine.) This hotel was also not great but it was good enough for one night, especially last minute. I did manage to catch the correct train in the morning and made it back to KL finally. This trip was more of a focus on the actual shoot than the travelling portion, because that was a bit of a mess, but the shoot was great and I’m very grateful for the opportunity I had to work with them.

Overall, travelling as a model is usually exhausting, and not exactly glamorous, but it’s quite a cool opportunity to have. You get to see other parts of the country you are visiting, and usually you get to do some cool work. Being on contract is already such a special experience and every opportunity is one to be grateful for. Even in situations that are less than ideal, I feel so lucky for all the experiences I’ve had in the past year, and wouldn’t want to trade them for anything. I’m sure there will be more amazing trips to come and I can’t wait to see what’s next! Until next time,

Sammie Taylor

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