How to Plan Your Next Big Adventure Using Instagram


When it comes to the images we post on Instagram, we tend to choose only the best, only the coolest, and only the prettiest. Somehow, we’ve created this unspoken (yet universally understood) rule for what we should and shouldn’t post. In this process, we’ve convinced ourselves if a photo doesn’t meet some certain criteria, it isn’t worth sharing.

Hence the term, “Instagram-Worthy.”

Most millennials, myself included, impulsively double tap when we experience appreciation, inspiration or jealousy -- and sometimes even a bit of all three at once. For example...

That coffee shop downtown with the coolest vibe? Like. A picturesque view that gives National Geographic a run for its money? Like. Mouthwatering food that looks almost too pretty to eat? Like. Happy Hour at that popular new spot? Like. An incredible bag worth the splurge? Like. 

“Instagrammable” or not, this habit doesn’t paint the most accurate pictue of our day-to-day lifestyle. Admit it -- we typically don’t spend our mornings leisurely drinking matcha lattes in trendy cafes. Because more often than not, we roll out of bed, stumble into the kitchen and drop a K-cup into the Keurig. Instagram doesn’t represent our everyday; it’s our every once in a while.

Our lives on Instagram are a diversion from reality -- much like a vacation. See what I’m getting at here? Utilizing Instagram is the best way to plan an awesome itinerary for your next adventure. Using the app as your guide, you can discover the best, the coolest, the prettiest, and the most fun.

Instagram the Travel Agent

Using a travel agent won't guarantee that you'll love every second of your vacation, but it does increase this chance by providing a plethora of pertinent ideas. Instagram is no different. Once you've decided on a desired location, Instagram can serve as a helpful visual guide. Scrolling through images will allow you to envision your trip and build a plan. It's up to you to sort through the many options, pick which restaurants you want to try and decide which attractions rank highest on your list. But, fear not -- you'll have a good sense of what's ideal based on what people are posting. Odds are, if you "liked" it on Instagram, you'll love it in real life.

Geotags: Popular Spots + Hidden Gems

Before posting a photo on Instagram, we filter, caption and geotag. The latter is the most important in determining which places to check out on your getaway.

Head to the search tab and click on "Places." This is where you'll search for geotags that will reveal the popular spots and hidden gems that users find "Instagram-Worthy." From historic monuments to bottomless brunches, you'll find it all with some strategic searching.

Not sure what you're looking for exactly? Just start typing your destination. From here, Instagram will suggest options based on a location's name, coordinate and/or popularity. Soon, your discoveries will start to snowball off each other.

Follow to Find

There's a reason why they're called social influencers! Befriend the locals who know best and the jet setters who've seen and done it all. In doing so, be sure to follow the accounts you share a similar interest or style with.

Just to name a couple, these are the wanderlust provoking accounts I'm #EasilyInspired by:

@dametraveler @elsas_wholesomelife / @foodietribe@gypsea_lust / @helloemilie /@letsgrabacuppa@localwanderer / @lovelettertoeurope@ohhcoutre / @popeyethefoodie@theballoondiary / @theblondeabroad

Insta-tip: Find the natives by combining the city of your choosing with "blogger," like #BaltimoreBlogger, and prepare to be inspired! Bloggers are always on the hunt for the best a city has to offer -- not to mention the perfect photo op.

Search Suggestions By City

Most big cities have several Instagram accounts dedicated to highlighting everything their town has to offer. Here, you'll find the best sights, sounds, bars and beaches that are specific to your travel destination. In many cases, Instagram users can submit their own photos to be reposted on these influential accounts. This collaboration creates a reliable resource for "Instagram-Worthy" suggestions.

In addition, some city-related accounts focus on a specific niche like delicious food, hiking trails or current events in the geographic area. These cultivated 'grams can be just as influential in your planning.

Insta-tip: If you find an account you really love, check their bio to see if they have their own unique hashtag. This filter will help expand your search and may lead to hole-in-the-wall discoveries you would have otherwise missed.

Here's a few suggestions to help you get started. Note: I've been to the bolded cities! If you have any questions about these in particular, let me know in a comment below.

I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list.

Atlanta // @atlantafortheyoung / @bestfoodatlanta / @coolatlanta / @eatyourheartoutatlanta @poncecitymarket

Austin // @austin_monthly@austinmymouth / @austintidbits / @austinwaymag@eatingatx /@365thingsaustin

Boston // @bosbloggers@bostondaybook / @bostonfoodies / @bostonsworld / @igboston

Charleston // @abitofcharleston / @explorecharleston@charlestonweekender / @collegeofcharleston

Chicago // @chicagobucketlist / @chicagofoodauthority / @fabfoodchicago / @thechicagopulse / @chicagomag

Los Angeles // @dinela / @dtlawanderer@hungryinla / @losangeles  / @thelalife_  / @discoverla / @timeoutla

Miami //@bestfoodmiami @miamidesigndistrict / @miamiflea@wsouthbeach / @wynwoodmiami

Nashville // @nashville_eats / @nashvilleexplorersclub@nashvillefoodfan / @nashvilleguru@thenashvilleguide

New York City // @datethiscity / @new_fork_city / @newyork_instagram / @newyorkpulse / @nyccityguide

New Orleans // @frenchquarternola / @itsyournola@st.rochmarket / @neworleanstidbits / @visitneworleans

Philadelphia // @muralarts@phillylovenotes / @philadelphiapulse / @urphillypal@uwishunu

Phoenix // @arizonacollective@azfoothills / @bestofourvalley@downtownphoenix / @phxflea

San Diego //@sandiegopulse @sandiegocityguide / @sdfooddiaries /@visitsandiego

San Francisco // @eatingthroughsf @onlyinsf@sanfrancisco / @sanfranciscoday@sfbucketlist

Washington, DC //  @dcfoodporn / @dcwithkid / @edible_dc / @igdc /@unionmarketdc / @visitwashingtondc

Happy planning + 'gramming!