Every time I go on holiday, I'm surrounded by people taking phone pics. But I only recently realised that this holiday annoyance could be useful: Before you book a hotel, campground, restaurant table or museum tickets, look up the place on Instagram. Not the place's official account, but all the photos taken at that location. (Just run a search within Instagram and click the result with the map pin icon.)
Governor's Island, New York, as seen on Instagram. Photo: Nick Douglas
The official site for a travel destination will only post the most flattering shots, often carefully lit and edited in post. Instagram pics will still be a little flattering, but much more realistic.
Instagram shots show you how people tend to interact with the place, and what the highlights are. (Does one signature cocktail crop up a lot? Does everyone in this national park head toward a particular mountain? Ooh, what's that popular burger stand on the beach?) To discover nearby attractions, click through some of the pictures and see where else those Instagrammers went.
These shots also show you the kind of people who will surround you at your destination, if that's something you care about. For example, the crowd at the Pestana South Beach Art Deco Hotel looks low-key and chill next to the intimidating crowd at the Standard Spa in Miami Beach.