Tips for traveling models!

Working as an international model is much easier said than done! You don’t simply book your flights, take off and start going to castings! Nope. There is a long list of things to get done before booking your flights. 

Here are a few steps you might not be aware of that need to be taken care of way before making any plans!  

  • Firstly, you’ll need a Visa. THIS is the HARDEST PART as there are MANY types of Visa’s with different application criteria’s. Just learning about them all is time consuming & confusing.
  • When you’ve found an appropriate Visa, your Mother Agency (in my case, my Australian agency) have to put the feelers out for you. This means contacting all of the potential agencies who might be willing to have you on their books.
  • Once an agency agrees to take you on board, they then have to sponsor you & your Visa. 
  • This process can take a long time! To apply for a US Visa for example, you’ll need at least 60 tear sheets (a tear sheet is something like a magazine shoot you’ve done in the past to prove you’re a working/successful model)
  • As well as the 60 tear sheets you need to create an extensive list of all of your past jobs & clients
  • Once you’ve remembered them all, you have to contact a bunch of them & ask if they’d be willing to write you a formal letter of reference 

This doesn’t sound all that hard, but trust me… it can be taxing. 

Once you’ve collected the requested information, you can submit your application to the US embassy (depending on where you are going of course). 

 Then you just wait patiently. Visa applications can take up to 6 months just to be processed by the people in the embassy offices. And the worst part is that there are no guarantees. Even after 6months, you still run the risk of having your application denied. Given that a US Visa application can cost around $3500, you’d be shattered if it didn’t come through! Luckily my Visa was approved… which was amazing news to receive!!  

So to LA baby I went!

 LA is an awesome market for most models as there is a tonne of work here. Far more than in Australia given the size of their market is so much bigger! From editorial campaigns, to social media collaborations, catalogues & e-commerce… there is a wide variety of work. If you are willing to spend entire days shooting e-com inside studios, you can earn a heap of money! Even though I’m happy to do a little bit of everything, I like more of a challenge! I like to be outdoors and on my feet, so I prefer the creative/editorial stuff. But each to their own!

LA is a states FULL of creatives. Everyone you meet is an actor, model, director or has some other connection to the industry. It’s quite interesting sitting & “people watching” here as there are so many individuals. You just never know who anyone is!! Someone who appears to be super casual with a skateboard under their arm in Venice Beach could turn out to be a big time director! THIS IS WHY YOU HAVE TO BE POLITE & NICE TO ABSOLUTLEY EVERYONE. One bad first impression, is already too many! Your reputation is your biggest asset, so keep it in check! 

If you’re looking to come over the LA, the agencies I’d recommend contacting are the following;

  • Wilhelmina 
  • Next management
  • Two
  • LA Models
  • Hollywood  

When you start meeting agencies, be careful & have your guard up. It’s very easy to get all excited but stay real. Agencies sometimes have a knack of telling you exactly what you want to hear. They’re good at getting you on their side & signing off on their lengthy contracts. So be wary! 

Always make sure you know exactly what you are signing. If there is a word, a phrase or a term that you don’t understand, highlight it & email it through to your Mother Agency. Read every single world twice! Contracts are very hard to get out of once they’re signed… so sit down & read it over breaky or dinner (away from the agency where you can think independently).  

Make sure you’re being truthful to yourself. Don’t sign with an agency because they have big names on their books! Look for gaps… which agency doesn’t yet have what YOU could offer them. And which booker or agent makes you feel comfortable. That’s the biggest thing. Go with your gut & be careful.  

My biggest piece of advice… 

Remember that your agency or your manager works for you; you don’t work for them. You need to be honest at all times & tell them what or what you expect. No one is a mind reader. Models work so hard to make money for their agencies, so it’s vital that you are honest & clear with them from day one. 

When it comes to accommodation, sometimes agencies have their own model apartments which you can rent cheaply. This is an easy option if you’re desperate but be warned, it can be tough! Like most models, I’ve stayed in a tonne of model apartments over the years. It’s all a part of the journey but now that I’m a little older, I prefer to spend a little extra money & get my own place.  

The option is totally yours. With the model apartments, it’s nice knowing that you don’t have to go out & search for a place to stay in a foreign city. When you arrive they’re all ready to go so you can get straight in and find tour bearings. 

Just make sure to prepare yourself to share your personal space as it can get very cramped. I once had an apartment where I shared a room with four other girls & we slept in bunk beds. I’m no princess!! I definitely don’t expect luxury all of the time … but personal space is something hard to share at times! BUT I don’t want to scare you off… as if you’re a bit younger the model apartments can be a bit of fun & they’re a great way to meet people from all around the world.

When I’m here I like to stay around Beverly Hills or West Hollywood. It feels more homey to me. It’s a bit more suburban, there’s lots of local’s cafés, amazing workout spots & health stores all in walking distance. 

When I’m away I like to staying in areas where I can walk pretty much everywhere. 

Getting around in LA… Everyone says you need a car in here! I guess it might be handy if you are staying long term but Uber is so dam cheap here!! It can be way less stressful just jumping in & out of Ubers when you are jumping from job, to casting, to event. Quick & simple! Plus you don’t have to worry about directions or parking… bliss!  

A few final little tips for traveling models! It’s really important to keep busy when you’re away from home. I travel alone heaps of the time so I make it my goal to workout every single day. I eat healthy, I make sure to plan lots of sight seeing adventures & I try to say yes as much as possible when people invite me to social events. It’s so much fun making new friends in new cities. For networking reasons & just simply because having friends all over the world is amazing!  

Finally, doing lots of test shoots is super important no matter how big or small you are in the modeling industry.

All models always need fresh images. Be proactive with this! Don’t wait for things to happen, MAKE things happen!  Before I travel to a new city, I do a lot of research around which photographers I’d like to work with (social media can be so good for this!). Then I touch base with them & see who’s interested to shoot with me when I arrive. It all adds value & nothing is waste of time! When you shoot you’ll meet people, you’ll stay busy & you will have fun! Plus, coming home with a full portfolio of new shots is a great feeling! 

 So safe & happy travels to all the models who want to travel! Make sure to comment below if you have questions. Be smart & work hard. It’s not always a walk in the park but the feeling of independence is worth it! Make sure to make the most of it & create lots of lasting memories!

Elyse xxx