TikTok influencers defy the pandemic to form a ‘travel house’

The influencers have faced criticism for travelling abroad during ongoing coronavirus lockdowns

Travel restrictions – and, in some cases, nationwide lockdowns – remain in place in many countries across the world due to coronavirus, but that hasn’t stopped a group of TikTokers from travelling to Mexico as part of a new “roaming travel house” named Clubhouse Explore.

The new, travel-based iteration of the regular Clubhouse – which itself is a physical mansion along the lines of the TikTok Hype House – launched with a trip to Tulum, Mexico from Beverly Hills, California this month. 

Besides the obvious TikToks, the trip is extensively covered in a series of vlogs on the Clubhouse YouTube channel, in which members of the group take a private plane, visit the beach, and have trouble with local mosquitos (“the double-edged sword of travelling to tropical places”... lol).

As is to be expected during the ongoing pandemic though, a lot of commenters have questioned the safety of travelling abroad right now.

“Is COVID-19 just not happening at the clubhouse?” one comment reads, and another asks a question along the same lines, joking: “Amazing how there was so much social distancing lmao…”

While members of the Clubhouse group were apparently tested before travelling to Mexico and took “off-camera precautions” that audiences might not have been aware of, commenters from Mexico also point out that their quarantine is still very much in effect.

“I can’t believe you actually travel,” reads one of the comments: “like wtf we are still on quarantine here in Mexico, maybe in LA you are not anymore and that’s amazing, but we are, people are dying daily in Mexico, and I don’t think is appropriate for you guys to travel given the circumstances.”

“You are suppose to be an example for people… you are influencers that’s what you do, so please do your ‘work’ and stay home and safe, and don’t give the wrong idea that everything is okay and that we can travel and be outside.”

Even in California, current guidelines suggest that people should only travel “for urgent matters or if such travel is essential to your permitted work”, adding: “Even though businesses around the state are opening up, avoid travelling long distances for vacations or pleasure as much as possible.”

Many other YouTubers, as well as bloggers, photographers, and filmmakers dedicated to travel-based content, have seen their work dry up pretty much overnight due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It was a very worrying situation to see my upcoming work completely disappear,” one full-time travel writer tells the BBC. “I'm a one-man band – I don't have a team to manage my business so when something unprecedented like this happens, there's nothing to fall back on but yourself.”

As a result, many bloggers have pivoted to more home-based lifestyle content, such as style or cooking, or have dedicated their time away from travelling to spreading coronavirus information and advice.