Many of us use Instagram for escapism, to daydream of destinations on the other side of the world. But have you ever used the image-focused app to actually plan your own getaway? If you’re struggling to decide where to go next, or you’re looking for inspiration to help plan a trip you already have booked, here are our simple tips for using Instagram to plan your holiday.

Search by destination

Type your destination into the search bar, tap the ‘Places’ tab and spend some time scrolling through the most recent photographs for the city or region you are visiting. You’ll have to sift through an overwhelming amount of selfies and generic tourists shots, but you should find inspiration among the noise. For example, I just spent five minutes searching through the feed for Amsterdam and discovered a restaurant, an upcoming exhibition, and an independent shop that all interested me.

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Follow travel influencers

There are thousands of people sharing their travel adventures on Instagram, so to be truly inspired, you need to search for the ones who travel in a similar way to yourself. There’s no point spending hours scrolling through photos of tropical beaches if you prefer exploring cosmopolitan cities. I like to discover dramatic landscapes when I travel, so I follow people who visit places like Iceland, Scotland, and Norway for inspiration.

Get stuck into hashtags

Hashtags offer more inspiration than geotags, as you can search for more specific things from your destination of choice, such as #mallorcanbeach or #cornwallsurf. You could also look into #foodieadventures or #beautifulhotels if you’re looking to plan a trip around the local cuisine or luxurious accommodation. The possibilities are endless! If you don’t know where you want to go, try searching through some of the popular generic travel hashtags such as #passionpassport or #letsgosomewhere for inspiration.

Discover tourism boards

Most country- and region-specific tourism boards have a strong presence on Instagram. Scroll through the photos on these feeds to discover the very best that your chosen destination has to offer. After all, the tourism boards have a vested interest in sharing the top spots. You will normally be able to find a variation of Instagram accounts for each country, including the main feed, such as @visitsweden, location-specific accounts, such as @visitskane and smaller accounts in different languages, such as @visitswedenfr

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Utilise collections

Make the most of Instagram’s function to save images by creating an album full of inspiration for each destination. Every time you see a photograph of a place that you’d like to visit, tap the little flag on the right below the image and save to an album. I do this every time I see a place to stay, a beautiful beach, an interesting landscape or anything else that catches my eye. I now have dozens of albums for a variety of destinations all around the world and usually book my next trip based on the places for which I have been saving the most images.

Follow the locals

Once you have a trip booked, search through Instagram to find people living in that destination to follow. Look for people with similar interests to you or whose photography that you like, and don’t be afraid to reach out to them and ask for tips and local advice. Most people on Instagram are incredibly friendly and are more than willing to answer your questions. I’ve previously connected with people prior to a trip, who have then offered to meet up with me and show me around, giving me a completely different experience than if I’d simply followed a guidebook.

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Don’t just travel for Instagram though

Instagram is an amazing tool for planning your travels, but remember to also think for yourself and visit the places that interest you, not just Instagram hotspots. Seek out your own perspective of the place you are visiting and try to look for more variety than the usual Instagram clichés.

Emma Lavelle is a UK based writer and photographer and has her own blog Field and Nest.