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Use social media for travel planning: a step-by-step guide

Use social media for travel planning- a step-by-step guide
Use social media for travel planning- a step-by-step guide

Having a month and a half free from work has led to a lot of research. More specifically, I spend a lot of time trawling social media for travel ideas, coming up with grand plans, realizing I’m not getting paid for another month and a half, and finally tamping down my plans to more manageable levels.

And then the cycle repeats itself, ad infinitum.

But don’t feel too bad for me – despite being an avid anti-planner/organizer in every other aspect of my life, I truly enjoy the process of sussing out new travel ideas. I guess some people window shop online while I stalk Instagram feeds.

Anyway, I figured the rest of the world (who hopefully has a bit more disposable income than I do at the moment) could benefit from my obsessive travel planning tendencies so I’m here to share some of my best tips and tricks for using social media for travel inspiration.

Got your adventure list squared away for some awesome new discoveries, yeah? Great! Let the fun begin!

Social Media for Travel Planning - Instagram

Instagram

I’m sure you already know this, but Instagram is a veritable treasure-trove of inspiration. There are so many people doing really amazing things and documenting it – your only real challenge is to find them. (Easier said than done; in most recent statistics, Instagram has over 400 million users!)

To help you hone in on finding the epic/offbeat/delicious for your next adventure, here are a few actionable steps to find Instagram inspiration (Insta-piration?):

Hashtags

Pinpointing useful hashtags is probably the #1 way I find new things to explore. Ways to find hashtags:

  • check out which hashtags your new follows use – chances are there are others
  • check out what local tourism groups are using (local/state tourism boards, tour companies, etc)
  • find local appreciation groups and snag their tags (for example, Indy has KeepIndyIndie and nomeancity)
  • use your smarts: try #visit____ [your location], #love_____ [your location], for food #edible______ [your location], and so on
Location tags

Location tags are the perfect way to find something undiscovered by you on Instagram. To view a location, toggle into the search page, select the search bar, and then select ‘places’. You can either choose the blue ‘Nearby Places’ for Instagram-generated options or type in an area manually.

I generally start my search through the whole city but that can sometimes provide overwhelming results. If you live in a larger city, you can get even more specific by searching through your specific neighborhood or region. For more specific tips, download this free mini-guide to using Instagram for travel planning:

Twitter

As opposed to Instagram, Twitter is so much more interactive and therefore the perfect way to reach out to people who know all about the place you’re interested in. As a relatively awkward person, I always feel weird about striking up conversations (either in public or online) with people I don’t know. But you know what? That’s stupid. Twitter was literally crafted for quick back-and-forth conversations. Use it.

But let’s talk about the bit that comes before that: which accounts to follow?

Accounts that will put you in touch with the right kind of information/guides:

  • Tourism boards (state/city/region)
  • Local bloggers
  • Lifestyle/around-town journalists*
  • Event/to-do groups

*Find them one of two ways: 1) check out the entertainment section of local newspapers and see who the author’s are; 2) find the local newspapers on Twitter and see who they’re following.

Related accounts

Whenever you follow an account on Twitter, the site gives you three relevant accounts under its “You might want to follow these similar accounts” heading. Use this to your advantage! If you make it a point to follow 3-5 relevant accounts, click through at least one or two additional suggested accounts for the potential to find some other great resources.

Remember: once you’ve followed all these accounts – reach out! In many cases, it is literally someone’s job to help you plan your trip!

Social Media for Travel Planning - Facebook

Facebook

This took me a little while to figure out, but Facebook is actually a pretty decent site for finding recommendations. Think of it like Yelp, except in a browser tab you probably already have sitting open. All you need to do is type in your desired location into the search bar, click the places tab, find the right city, then scroll through the tons of options they offer (helpfully sorted based on ratings).

Facebook will also show you upcoming events and nearby points of interest. While none of Facebook’s offering may be particularly daring, it’s a great jumping off point to see the best the city has to offer.

The other big winner on Facebook…?

Facebook Groups

Facebook travel groups are such a wealth of information which too often go overlooked by travelers. To utilize them fully, use the search function at the top of every group page to see what advice people have already given as well as to find potential experts who live there or have traveled there already. Don’t be afraid to reach out with a DM for more info!

For budget travelers:

And… scene.

Whew, I hope you all learned a few new things from my love of travel planning! And if you enjoyed this post and found it useful, guess what? In a month I’ll be releasing an in-depth workbook for you to truly embrace and create your best adventure list.

Want in? Try a free preview of the social media section on for size right here:

How do you use social media for travel planning? Do you have extra tips or tricks that I missed? Spill it all in the comments below!

  • I need to work on my Russian so I can use these tips here. I usually just scroll through Russian city Instagram accounts and when I see a picture I send it to my boyfriend to see if he knows where it is or not.
    Jasilyn recently posted…Irkutsk, Pt. 3: Lake BaikalMy Profile

    • Oh man, Russian Instagram is ON-POINT. There’s so much amazing urban exploring/roof-topping! I honestly had to unfollow a lot of my favorite accounts once I left Moscow because they made me feel so nostalgic!

  • Amanda

    I need to utilise Facebook better – I’ve never even thought of it as a travel planning tool!

    • I recently got more into it and have found it can be really great!

  • I use instagram a LOT for travel inspiration. In particular it’s a great resource when I really like a photo, and want to replicate it for myself 🙂
    Also it’s been a good tool for discovering travel blogs and resources – the INSANELY delicious-looking @breakfastlondon account led me to a website that recommends best breakfast places in the city based on the neighborhood, and thanks to so many photos, you really know what you’re getting. I followed it on quite a few trips!

    • I have definitely spent more time than I care to admit trying to work out where/from which angle a photo has been taken to recreate it myself XD