One of the best parts of any holiday is finding that unsung local landmark. Perhaps it’s a neighbourhood bar that blew you away, a cultural monument rarely mentioned in travel guides or an amazing burrito from a street cart. Over on the New York Times, Jenna Wortham points out that Instagram is a great tool to find these types of places. The key for Wortham here is simple: You get an unfiltered look at a city through multiple perspectives. Here’s how she explains it:
Looking at the raw feed of geotagged posts offers a graphic map in real time, which you can comb through to make your own guidebook. I like to think of it as akin to a surf cam. But instead of tuning in to see if the waves are too mushy, feeds give a feel for a place that you can use to decide if a place feels fun and seems safe — whatever that means to you. And this has become my compass, my way of navigating the world. Rather than obsessing over travel sites or print guides or bothering friends for recommendations, I check a new city or town’s location tag right before I get there and see which recent posts are most popular. What I see there is wildly unfiltered, refracted through multiple perspectives — and much more revealing than any other guide.
It’s not just about finding the best (and worst) places to go either, it’s also a means to expose yourself to a variety of cultural insights. Wortham details using Instagram and other geolocation apps to figure out the proper way to dress in certain places, find where like-minded people hang out and learn about potential socio-political dangers in certain cities.
We’ve talked before about using Tinder to similar ends, which works well in the moment, but Instagram lets you plan a little ahead of time and doesn’t require the use of a hook-up app most non-single people have no excuse to download. I also used Instagram to similar ends on my last holiday, mostly to root out things not to do in New Orleans, which included avoiding long lines and silly tourist traps. It also proved useful for tracking down good happy hour deals. It works well, and Wortham’s usage goes far beyond just Instagram, so head over to The New York Times for a few more ideas.
Turning Instagram Into a Radically Unfiltered Travel Guide [The New York Times]