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.
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?):
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 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:
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.
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.
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 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:
- Part-Time Traveler Talk
- Travel Advice by Travel Bloggers
- Tribe of Hitchhikers
- Girls vs Globe
- Solo Travel Society
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!