5 Ways to Use Social Media for Travel Planning

If you're not tapping into the magic of social media for trip planning, you're doing it all wrong.

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KIEV, UKRAINE - JUNE 27, 2014: Woman looking on Pinterest application boards on modern white Apple iPad Air, which is designed and developed by Apple inc. and was released on November 1, 2013.

Photo by: pressureUA

pressureUA

INSTAGRAM COLLECTIONS

I recently took a trip to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, but I've had a saved collection on Instagram for San Miguel for eons. Every time I saw someone post a rad tip or talk about a spot I wanted to visit, I would add it to my San Miguel collection. When it was time to plan my trip, I already had a jump-start on the whole itinerary. Here's how it works:

- Instagram recently introduced "collections," which means you can sort your saved photos into different digital folders and name them for easy access.

- You can save a photo by clicking on the flag/tab icon under the right-hand side of any photo.

- To access all of your saved photos, go to your profile and click on the same flag/tab icon underneath your profile information. (That's where all of your collections will live.)

#HASHTAGS

I know a big pile of hashtags in someone's Instagram post can sometimes make you roll your eyes, but hold your horses: hashtags are actually a killer trip-planning tool. Here's how to make it work for you:

- Visit the search tab in Instagram by clicking on the magnifying glass icon.

- Type in the name of the town or city you're hoping to visit. (Tip: Make sure to do a one-word search even if the destination has several words, like #sanmigueldeallende.)

- Choose "tags" at the top of the page for search results.

- Click on your city, and get lost in all the pretty photos.

#HASHTAG STORIES

Instagram Stories are short video clips that users can post to their account in addition to photos. This is another great way to see what a city is like up close and personal.

Just like with photos, you can use hashtags to categorize your Instagram videos. You can (virtually) take in the sights, sounds and people of wherever you want to visit. Do this:

- Follow the instructions for the hashtag search above.

- When you get to the results page, click the circle in the left-hand corner. This will take you through all the videos that were hashtagged for that city in the last 24 hours.

LOCATIONS

When posting a photo or a story on Instagram, you can tag the location you're at at the time of the post. This is yet another way to check out a specific spot by scrolling through everyone's tagged photos and videos.

- Follow the instructions for the hashtag search above.

- When you get to the results page, click "Places" on the top right of the screen.

- Click on the city you're looking up on the results page.

- To look at photos, scroll to the bottom of the page, or click the circle on top to see videos tagged with a specific location.

PINTEREST

Another tried-and-true way to do some sneaky research for your next vacation is to search for the spot you want to visit on Pinterest and see what comes up. I've found amazing roundups for spots I've wanted to visit, packing lists for specific areas at certain times of the year and direct links to hotels or local businesses in the areas I'm searching. You can also find great articles in travel magazines or books you might want to read.

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