How to use Instagram to plan your travels
Gone are the days of travel planning being confined to the pages of a guidebook. With 200 million active users taking photos across the globe, Instagram is a veritable travelling encyclopedia. Not only do we use Instagram to plan our travels, but it’s now one of our favourite ways of seeking out new and inspiring places.
Here’s how we use Instagram to go from inspiration to destination.
Open for discovery
Ever seen a photo that made your jaw drop and start searching the latest travel deals right away? Nothing is more powerful than a killer image to get you dreaming of your next escape, and thanks to talented Instagrammers the world over, this inspiration is just a scroll through your feed away.
The more we travel and check off items on that elusive bucket list, the more we and our bucket list grows, thanks in large part to the discoveries that continually whet our travel appetite on Instagram.
Work those hashtags
Instagram is not only a place for travel dreamers; it provides a very real and practical way to plan your trips. Ready to get moving? Going to a place you’ve never been to before or know little about? Instagram has the means to fill out that travel itinerary pretty quickly if you know where to look for it.
The advent of hashtags has to be one of the most revolutionary additions to the way we use social media. Now it’s possible to tap into the most useful posts with a quick hashtag search. We start by searching for country and city name (for example, #japan and #tokyo), and then find more specific hashtags from there. Soon we have a whole list of awesome neighborhoods we’d like to check out and even specific attractions and restaurants, just from the images and captions posted on Instagram.
And it doesn’t stop there. One of the most powerful parts of Instagram is the ability to have a conversation and an interactive one at that. Over the years, Instagram has become our go-to social media platform for engagement. Want to know where a particular photo was taken? You now have a direct line to the person who actually took the photo!
The conversation may begin about the photo posted, but lends itself to a whole range of other discussions that further inform our travel planning. Through Instagrammers, we’ve been given all kinds of travel advice, including the best and most cost effective way to get to the location, the best time to visit and things not to miss while there.
Take your relationship to the next level
When you have real and fulfilling conversations online, something else happens too. You make friends! In a time when many platforms seem more like a one-way megaphone blast to the world, Instagram is keeping the social in social media. These online friendships don’t have to limit themselves to cyberspace either. Through Instagram, we’ve been able to arrange to actually meet many of the people we interact with online during our travels.
Sometimes it comes about because we have been following each other for some time and we reach out to one another knowing that we’ll be traveling to their hometown soon. Other times, we seek out communities that are already actively meeting up. Searching for IGers communities in the city you are going to is a great place to start. Some of the more active Instagrammer communities have regular meet-ups that you might be able to join. Others are willing to meet up for a coffee and tell you more about their city. It’s safe to say that we’ve had far more enriching travel experiences by meeting up with Instagrammers around the world and seeing their city from a local perspective.
Take on a challenge
Whether on the road or at home, there are so many ways to get out and see the world. For us, travel is a state of mind. The more we travel, the more our concept of “home” changes and we’ve started to develop a keen passion for pursuing interesting things in our own backyard. Sometimes it can be difficult to find inspiration in things that seem so “normal” to you. That’s where themed challenges like PassionPassport’s weekly challenge and Instagram’s own weekend hashtag project come into play.
Wherever we are in the world, we use these challenges as an opportunity to discover new places and see ones we think we know in a new light. Destinations evolve and so do we. When was the last time you took a different route home just to see what you’ll find?
Jessica Korteman and Hai Huynh are a travel writing and photography duo from Melbourne, Australia. Now living in Japan, they run monthly photo walks from their base in Tokyo and spend the rest of their time exploring the world to bring you the best in travel and travel photography. Find them on their blog Notes of Nomads, Instagram @notesofnomads and YouTube.