For our recent two week trip to Belgium over the Christmas and New Year holidays, I utilized my regular trip planning methods (which you can read about here). However, I also heavily relied on Instagram this time around and I’m going to share a few tricks, beyond searching hashtags, for incorporating social media into your travel planning.
- Use the Saved feature. As soon as you start thinking about a place to go, no matter how far in the future, create a saved collection for it. That way whenever you see a pretty picture you’d like to re-create or remember a particular restaurant, you can easily bookmark it for later. This is a nice and tidy way to keep them all in one mobile place and then remove them as you visit them. Start hitting those flags at the bottom right of IG pix!
- Reach out to locals. There are plenty of non-bloggers out there who just love to highlight their hometowns through imagery. I always start following locals’ accounts to get an idea of the coffee shops or “off the beaten path” places I’d like to try. This last time around, I reached out to a few people via DM asking for specific recommendations (Christmas Eve dinner spots in Bruges) and ended up connecting with some really lovely people who gave me the inside scoop on all of their favorite spots. It was like having my own little curated guidebook! I continue to follow some of these accounts after my trip as a way to reminisce when I’m back to reality.
- Follow all of the local tourism boards. I mean, duh, right? But I found them to be very responsive to requests and not just a collection of pretty pictures. They often have information about last minute or special events you may not have otherwise known about. Be sure to tag them in your images so they can show off your vacay!
- Start following potential hotels early. Picking the right accommodations from half way around the world can seem like a crap shoot. You can read reviews and look at curated photographs, but I like the personality that a hotel’s IG account shows. It doesn’t feel perfect and sometimes gives more insight into the staff and how they’re making guests feel special. Alos, special rates sometimes pop-up on social media only.
- Some Air BnB’s have their own IG accounts. If you are going the Air BnB route, many fun & gorgeous properties have their own accounts so you can get an idea of the accommodations in real time and with real guests (like @dazey_desert_house in Palm Springs). Some are so lovely, you’ll want to follow them all year long.
- Always keep a Bucket List collection. Remember when we just had bookmarks and no Pinterest? I had a never-ending list of bookmarked websites for hotels and experiences I wanted to remember; without imagery to remind me what was what in the first place. But aside from the user friendly Pinterest, we now have Instagram Saved Collections to make bucket list building even more simple. Make yourself a few categories alongside your “future trip” collections. When ever I see a jaw-dropping destination photo, I add it to my simple Travel collection. When I see a hotel I would drop a car payment on, I add it to Dream Hotels collection. I also like to keep collections for local places that I need to get around to. LA is so vast I have to break it up into LA Places, SGV, and OC collections. That way, the next time I have something to do in Pasadena, I consult my SGV collection and see if I can grab a cup of joe at the one coffee shop I haven’t tried!