Instagram :: The Ultimate Travel Tool

how to use instagram as a travel tool[trip style = any]

Not just a snap-py tool to follow friends, swoon over glamor shots of far-flung locales or ogle latte art, Instagram is one of my favorite travel tools. Lately I've been chatting with my travel friends about how we use it as one of our go-to galavanting guides, so I wanted to give you the quick and dirty deets. Use it the right way and suddenly, a picture turns into a plan.

Trip Styler Tip :: O-B-V-I-O-U-S-L-Y TripStyler's on Instagram

How To Use Instagram As Your Travel BFF 1. Hashtags 4insta Whether it's a tourism organization, hotel or restaurant, travel-related businesses are harnessing the power of hashtags to build up a user-generated database of 'real people' photos. For example, if you're interested in a place you want to visit, say Canada, search the #exploreCanada hashtag for inspiration. Maybe you decide a tour of BC is your best bet; in this case search #exploreBC. The list goes on. To find the hashtag associated with your destination, airline, restaurant or shop du moment, go to the username and see if they mention a hashtag in their profile, or search possible hashtags to find the right one. The example above is a shot I took in Osooyoos, BC in the early fall, which I hastagged #exploreCanada and #exploreBC.

2. Geotags 1insta A few weeks ago, I was getting a coffee at Koffi in Palm Springs when I spotted a hotel I've always wanted to check into: The Horizon Hotel. A midcentury gem in all its clean-lined glory, I decided to walk in and self-tour the property. Naturally, I took a photo while there {above}, instagrammed and geotagged it. Interested what the rooms look like on the inside, I clicked the hotel's geotag and started scrolling though scores of snaps. This five-minute photo safari only confirmed my desire to stay, revealing details like private showers and complimentary breakfast in bed. **Looking through geotagged photos is easiest when you post a photo, geotag it, then go back to your feed and click on the geotag to look at everybody's snaps for that location. If you're not at the place associated with the geotag and want to search its geotag, find the associated hashtag or username, then search through the photos to find the geotag.

3. Personal Recommendations 2insta You can search your Insta-muse's photos two ways: 1/ follow their Instagram day-to-day; 2/ click on their photo map to see where they've gone and what they like.

For example, I follow Sunset Magazine on Instagram. The mag's Insta is updated by the editor who lives in Seattle, so many of the photos are of cool spots in the PNW. As a result, I get a lot of recommendations about where to eat around the Emerald City from Sunset, like in the photo above {a relaxed coffee/bike shop beside some of Ballard's hottest restaurants}. Thanks Sunset. I'm a little more plump Insta-knowing you.

[photos via @tripstyler]