We’re all familiar with Instagram. It’s a great way to share photos of how Starbucks misspelled your name, videos of you zip lining through the Costa Rican jungle to make your viewers jealous, or even stories of a South African sunset on the beach.
But what you might not be familiar with is that Instagram can also help you plan your next trip – here’s how:
1. Ye Olde Hashtag
Let’s not forget about our good old friend – the hashtag. Hashtags are a way to categorize topics, cities, countries and other cool spots. Let’s say you’re interested in checking out Asia, but you’re not sure which country to visit. So you look up #Asia and as you’re scrolling, you find a picture of monkeys bathing in hot springs and think, “That’s where I want to be!” Then, upon further digging – say with geotags for instance (more on that in a bit)- you find out that you can find these monkeys, the Japanese Macaque, in, yup, you guessed it – Japan. Then you continue to explore further by checking #Japan #Tokyo #thingstodoinjapan and so forth.
2. Location, Location, Location
The geotag on Instagram allows you to add the location of where you took the picture – and that’s where inspiration can come from. Let’s say someone posts this really cool photo of them by a graffiti wall and the location shows up as “Wynwood Wall,” you can click on this location tag and find out that it’s located in Miami. Then you can start writing a list of must-sees for Miami and before you know it, you have a rough draft itinerary prepared based on your own personal tastes and preferences.
3. Travelers, Bloggers, Locals
Instagram is packed with fellow travellers and travel bloggers. If you look up a hashtag such as #travel or #travelblogger, you will find millions upon millions of accounts – and I’m not even exaggerating here. Instagram also has a nice feature that showcases the nine top posts of the day so you can see the most liked posts. Once you click on these and explore a bit more, you can find a new destination or even a new blogger to follow or get inspired by. Locals of course are another obvious choice which you can also check with geotags, account biography information or even by being creative with your search such as #home.
4. Tourism Boards
Tourism boards are important for the tourism industry of many countries and are also plentiful on Instagram – cities and countries have accounts such as @visitchina or @sydney, accounts that are dedicated to offering you tips and advice on places to see, eat at, sleep in and discover.
5. Get Social!
Lastly, let’s not forget what social media is actually meant for – socializing! Write under the comments section when you find an interesting place and ask questions or try to get some tips. If you don’t know the account owner but are feeling brave – send a private message to ask for further details – your questions might just also help inspire a new blog post if the person is a writer. And use your own network as well. Feel free to post a picture of a dream location or someplace you have planned and ask for tips, you’ll never know who could offer some great advice or hook you up with a local contact to get a real authentic experience during your time there.
Happy (Insta) travels!