How to Use Instagram to Plan Your Travels
You may have trawled Instagram for food and fashion ideas, but travellers are now increasingly looking to this social network to plan their trips abroad. From where to find the best cocktails, to catching beautiful views, must-see sights, and discovering indie businesses, Instagram is proving to be one of the world’s most useful crowd-sourced travel tools. Think about it – how many people do you think Instagram a picture of good coffee in New York every day?
A lot of value is found in fair recommendations from normal people, and Instagram is a glittering labyrinth of untapped travel tips from people like you and me, who have found something cool and want to show it off. Here’s some advice to get you started with travel planning on Instagram.
Harness the Hashtag
An obvious place to start is to simply hashtag the name of the place you’re visiting and have a browse through the pictures that pop up in the search results. This is effective if you’re looing to get a feel for a city – what the buildings look like, famous landmarks, and most popular things to do there. This is ideal for the inspiration stage if you’re yet to decide where to go as it will give you an overarching view of a place. If you’re looking for something more specific, you’ll need to get more on-point with your hashtag search.
When you type a word into Instagram’s search function, the results not only show that hashtag, but every other hashtag that begins with that word too, ordered by popularity. Take London, for example – the results include #londonstreetart, #londonfashion, and #londonbynight. These show you a specific aspect of the city and what’s popular there. Take a look through all these options, and search for your own ideas, like #londoncoffee to find a great cafe.
Find a blogger or local
Pay attention to the accounts frequently using the destination-focused hashtags – they could be local Instagrammers or bloggers. These are the people likely to give away tips in their feeds, tagging places and landmarks so you know exactly where to find them. Not only that, but they’re particularly good at finding hidden gems, and some may even have a link to their blogs in their profiles where more advice could be on offer.
Search for the tourism board
Most tourism boards – cities, regions, and countries – have their own Instagram accounts, and considering it’s their job to show off their respective destinations, you’re bound to find some ideas here. Their usernames usually start with the words ‘visit’ or ‘discover’, directly followed by the place, or a quick Google search should lead you right to their accounts.
Many tourism boards have their own hashtags that they encourage followers to use, reposting the best pictures in the bunch and crowd-sourcing tips to their own accounts – doing the hard work so you don’t have to.
Use location tags
When you add a photo on Instagram, you have the option to ‘Name a location’. This adds a location tag to your photo, and means that all the photos with that tag will collect in one place. While browsing through photos, look to see if a location tag has been added to a photo you like the look of – it will be displayed just under the username, see the photos below where I’ve tagged ‘Turl Street Kitchen’ in Oxford. Click on the tag to be taken to a map with a pin showing where the place is, followed by all the other photos with that tag.
This is a great way to get a rounded view of a place – perhaps there’s an alternative view you’d rather see that landmark from, or something else on the menu that another user has Instagrammed.
Talk to people
Maybe you have something specific in mind that you want to find in a city, but can’t quite manage to pin it down on Instagram – this is where other people come in handy. Use the techniques described above to find an local or blogger that’s based where you’re travelling, and just ask them! Most will be more than happy to help you out (and probably quite flattered that you deemed them worthy of an expert opinion in the first place).
After all, this is a social network – so get social.
Use share buttons to store tips
In the bottom right-hand corner of other people’s Instagrams, below any comments and on the opposite side to the heart and speech bubbles icons, there are three little dots. Tap these and you’ll find an option to ‘Copy Share URL’, which will allow you to copy the link to that one Instagram onto your device’s clipboard. Make a list of these in your online travel planner (or draft in an email so you can access it from anywhere) to refer back to later, saving all of those top Insta-tips in one place.
Finally, don’t forget to share and share alike: Instagram your own adventures to leave tips and advice for the next wanderer passing through the area…
Have you ever used Instagram to plan your travels?
Do you have your own tips that you would add to this list?