I LOVE Instagram. It’s my favourite social media channel. I get to learn so much about other cities, people, hotels and restaurants via this easy to use app. It’s more than just photos, it’s an encyclopaedia of travel advice!
Through my own Instagram profile (@fit_travels) I share travel and fitness photos from different places I visit. I share tips and advice as well, to help my followers best plan their trips. Whilst I post a lot to my own account, I also use it to source information. Here’s a short guide and some tips on how you can use Instagram to plan your travels more effectively. The great thing is – you don’t even need to be an active Instagram user to benefit what it has to offer. Just start an account – follow and search!
Words you need to know to use Instagram to plan your travels
Hashtag – A short phrase or a single word that has no spaces and a # in front of it. For example #bali or #baliholiday. If you use a hashtag on your photos it will be grouped with all other user photos relating to that hashtag. Instagram users can search for photos by looking up the hashtag.
Geotag – A location stamp on your photos. If you have this function enabled on your smart phone when you take a picture it will store the location in the background. Just like a hashtag, if your photo has been geotagged it will be grouped with others from that location.
Things you can do to use Instagram to plan your travels
1 – Follow Travel Bloggers
Ok, so it might sound like I’m tooting my own horn but seriously we are out there to inspire and promote destinations. Some of us come with really handy tips and advice too! Things like how to save money on travel expenses, what’s the best way to get from A to B and where that excellent curry house is that you MUST go to. There’s also plenty of bloggers focusing on niche areas such as family travel, affordable travel, backpacking, luxury travel and solo travel to name a few. Thanks to other bloggers I’ve visited places I didn’t even know existed!
2 – Follow Hotel Accounts
I’ve noticed that often hotels will release promotions via Instagram, so this is a great way to source a deal on a hotel you are interested in. Another thing hotels sometimes do is give aways. You’ve gotta be in it to win it and it can’t hurt to enter a competition for a free stay that your hotel of choice has on offer.
3 – Follow Bulk Buying Voucher Accounts
Don’t want to receive hundreds of emails everyday in your inbox? Neither do I and that’s what tends to happen when I sign up to these types of websites. Thankfully some of the bulk buying voucher sites like Scoopon and Groupon have Instagram accounts. Each time you see a picture of a beautiful swimming pool or a cocktail it’s likely to be a hotel deal. Read the information and click through to the site if you wish to purchase.
4 – Follow the ‘BIG NAMES’ in Travel
Lonely Planet, TripAdvisor, Air BnB – These influential sources of travel information all have Instagram accounts. Not only do their share their own content but they also share content of other Instagram users. These accounts are great places to find inspiration and ideas for your holidays.
5 – Follow area infulencers
The first one that comes to mind in this genre is The Bali Bible. This account features everything and anything you might want to know about Bali. From hotels, cafes, spas, drivers and much more. I can guarantee that every area in the world has one of these accounts. Even my little hometown of Adelaide has one – Adelaide Social Network.
How to use Instagram to plan your travels
1 – Using the search functions
Say you want to go on a holiday to Bali, but you have no idea where to go or where to stay. My first piece of advice would be to visit the search option and click on TAGS (hashtag) By using Bali that opens up a huge pool of photos so be more specific. I recommend something like BALIHOTEL, BALILUXURY, BALIHOSTEL. Once you enter one of these you will be provided with a range of photos. You can then scroll through the photos either in bulk or one by one. If you see something you like – click on it to find out more.
If you know where you want to go, then you can also search via the places option. Lets say you want to go to Kuta, or more specifically the Four Points By Sheraton Bali, I can type this into the places box and will be given one or more geotags that I can click on to view photos of the place or the hotel.
Searching by PEOPLE when it comes to hotel, restaurant or airline you will most likely be taken to the direct pages of those companies. I feel that to get a better insight into other traveller opinions of products and services the TAGS or PLACES function are more effective. However, this is still useful if you want to know more specifically about that company.
2 – Ask questions
You can ask questions to the account that posted the photo by making a comment. Click on the speech bubble and type away. Unfortunately, not all Instagram accounts are responsive to comments. This tends to be the case when the account has an extremely big following. You might want to ask questions such as “What was the pool like?” OR “Does the wifi work well?” OR “How much did it cost to get here from the airport?”
3 – Click on profile links
If you find photos and information that interests you – go to the main profile page of that account holder. Perhaps they are a blogger, a travel agent or the business itself. If they’ve got a website you can be sure to find out lots more about them. You can only click on links via the main account profile page.
I like to use Instagram to plan my travels as it does offer a ‘real’ insight into destinations and places you might want to visit. Being able to look at photos without having to commit to following the account or even liking the picture is also a great bonus. There is definitely so much more we want to know these days prior to booking a hotel or holiday and I find Instagram a great tool for this reason.
Do you use Instagram to plan your travels? Got a great account recommendation I should follow? Let me know in the comments below.