Monday, March 28, 2016

Using Instagram for Travel Inspiration

I hate to date myself (meaning I hate to make myself sound old; though, I don't think I would go on dates with myself either) but I started university the first year that Facebook launched. I loved it back then. My friends and I would write on each others' walls (which, by the way, was limited to something ridiculously tiny, like 1000 characters, and we'd have to delete other people's messages to make room for our own). We were so happy when they finally branched out from just the ivies to anyone with a '.edu' email address so we could start stalking friending people we'd gone to high school with. We got excited when they introduced photo uploading (beyond a profile photo; we loved it because it helped us procrastinate from our uni work). Basically, I loved it a lot. But lately, it's been a drag. There are spammers, ads, and come election season, I come to hate those friends I used to love.

Enter: Instagram. IG is my new love. I only follow a handful of people (because the people who push their political agendas on FB also do it on every other social media platform) and it's perfectly acceptable etiquette. If you do it right, you should curate your IG feed with only those you deem worthy of your time and brainspace. I follow those who inspire me and make my life prettier because I use it to get a glimpse into some interesting lives. And because it's photo-centric and not word-centric, I don't get as bogged down and annoyed by typos and rambling captions because I am totally distracted by the lovely images.

Lately I've been using Instagram for travel inspiration. Once I looked past just following my favorite bloggers and found some new favorite travel Instagrammers, I was hooked. Honestly, there is a limit to how many flatlays of expensive material goods I can look at but I could browse gorgeous destinations for hours on end.
I wanted to share three ways I use Instagram to inspire my wanderlust.

FINDING NEW PLACES
The most obvious reason that Instagram inspires me is that I learn about destinations I had never even considered before. Sure, Paris and London and New York City will always be babes. But, there are some equally babe-ish places that were unfamiliar to me but have now made it to my travel bucket list. For example, currently my obsession is with the beaches of Croatia.

In addition to following some of my favorite travel bloggers (like @tuulavintage@kirstenalana, and @lebackpacker), I use the 'Explore' tab to look at some generic hashtags for 'travels' and 'destination' and the like. The best part is that Instagram will suggest some additional related tags and you can get lost in so much wanderlusty goodness.
As I scroll through and something catches my fancy, I zoom in, discover a new place, and then end up on Google for some serious research. Basically, that's how I ended up at Antelope Canyon back in February. Some months back, someone I follow on Instagram shared some insane photos of the gorgeous eroded rock formations and it stuck in my brain. And I'm so glad because it was an amazing experience.

ENHANCING A TRIP
If you've already got a trip booked, Instagram is a great way to make it even better. I use it to look for sites and spots I haven't heard of before, for restaurant recommendations, for cool photo opportunities, and even hotel recommendations. That last one is pretty important. Sure, Instagram filters can turn some of the ugliest rooms into Cinderellas. But, that's why you read the captions.

For my upcoming trip to Greece, I've been doing some non-stop research. I realize it's several months away, but hey, I'm excited and I can't help it. Anyway, I've been searching the hotels I've been considering and making sure everyone on IG approves, I've been looking for the best sunset spots on each island, and most importantly, I've been drooling over all of the souvlaki and tzatziki food porn.
I do think there is some danger in getting too obsessed with other people's feeds and feeling a bit lesser about my own. However, I can shake myself out of that once I realize that 1) I'm not a professional photographer and 2) everyone is allowed to have their own photography style.

FILLING IN THE BLANKS
This one is probably the most fun one, at least for me. I love the location tagging feature of Instagram and I love that you can view the geotagged locations on a map. I use the map feature to look at where I've been and what holes exist in my world travels. Granted, I only got IG in the summer of 2011 (whilst on holiday in Los Angeles) so I don't have my trips to Spain or the UK or the Netherlands marked on there. However, I can clearly see that I need to explore South America, Asia, and Africa.
In addition to helping me realize that the world is huge and I've seen so little of it, I appreciate this map feature for keeping a little geotag diary for me. I love zooming in to see what photos I deemed worthy of sharing from each destination and getting those yearning-related pains in my heart from all the precious memories I made abroad.

xoxo.

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