Where to find travel inspiration

As a new year begins, thoughts of vacation might be not be far from your mind. Whether you are thinking of an all-inclusive getaway in the sun, a luxurious cruise, that road trip you have always dreamed about, or finally taking that long-awaited trip to that place on your bucket list, trying to decide where to go has never been easier. Thanks to technology, global reach and plenty of people sharing their adventures, there are many fun ways of discovering your next destination. Here are some of my favourite sources of inspiration.

Instagram

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I am a huge fan of Instagram and the new things I find there constantly amaze me.  When it first came out, Instagram got a lot of negative slack from those who felt that it bastardized the art of photography.  As an art form, photography required expensive cameras, lenses and various paraphernalia, hours of waiting for the right moment to capture that perfect shot, followed by extensive retouching and editing. After all, nobody became famous for taking Polaroids.  Those factors made photography often inaccessible to many until Instagram came along and changed all that.

Anyone with a smart phone can now be an artist.  The more advanced the devices get, the better and more improved the cameras they come with.  Multiple filters allow anyone to edit a photo and post it online, and when it comes to travel, this is probably the best way to see faraway places through the eyes of those that were there.

The images of the Big Ben in London or the Red Square in Moscow are practically ingrained in my head simply because I have seen so many of them. Through the snow, reflections in rain puddles, night shots and sunny days, I have experienced places I have never been to, each different from the next, varying only by how the person who took the shot envisioned it.

Through their captures, Instagrammers have allowed me to see the familiar in a different light, learn more about destinations I’ve already planned on visiting, and yearn for places I’ve never imagined or knew existed. There are many stunning images on Instagram that can provide travel inspiration or help you experience them through the eyes of others.

YouTube

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Other than seeing photos of the different places, there are destination videos made specifically to attract tourist.  Tourist boards, travel agencies and various government organizations spend a lot of time and money to get you to visit and spend your money there.  That’s because people are more likely to visit a place if they can see the destination ahead of time and if it peeks their interest.

Destination videos can either dispel any pre-existing notions like “there is nothing to do in X” to showing the unfamiliar in a friendly and welcoming way. Thanks to technology, people are not only watching those videos, they are sharing them, making them accessible through various social media platforms.  An effective piece can have a wide and powerful reach. I learned that first hand few year ago after watching a tourist video for Iceland.

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I have to admit that I didn’t know too much about Iceland nor was it really on my radar as a destination. Then I saw this random video. Something about it that intrigued me and definitely made me want to go there.  To this day, Iceland ranks as one of the best trips I have made so far, proving to me that tourism advertising works.

The beauty of YouTube is that there are endless videos, both professional and amateur quality, available for any travel research. Pick a destination and you’ll have access to an endless resource of information.  Who knows, as the inspiration strikes, you might be tempted to do your own video for others to enjoy.

Airlines

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As the popularity of leisure travel grows, everyone in the business wants a piece of it.  Airlines are no different.  To attract passengers, airlines are becoming increasingly more creative with promoting destinations as much as they are promoting deals to get there.  This offers a great opportunity for research on new destinations.

While on a flight, you will most likely find some type of travel magazine tucked into the seat pocket in front of you. Filled with lots of pictures and easy to read articles, you can learn more about the destinations your airline services. From where to shop to what to eat and visit, there are little tidbits on places you might have not been to or never thought about. Even if you have been to a particular destination, there might be new things for you to learn or explore next time you visit there.  Besides, with all this time on your hands, reading a magazine is a good way to pass the time.

Airlines are also getting creative with promotions. With the popularity of social media, airlines take to twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other platforms to promote destinations, deals and engage with those who might want to travel with them.  Taking advantage of this will not only expose you to information (video and articles) on the destinations they are promoting, but also allow you to participate in various promotions and new deals that might just sweeten that trip you’ve already planned. Score.

Travel guides

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Although a more traditional way of learning about places, printed travel guides are still a good staple to rely on. From recommendations for visiting various museums, restaurants and monuments, the guides also provide practical travel information and advice on local currency, customs, ways to get around and even few phrases to assist those who don’t speak the local language.

Quite often, the guides come with a map, itinerary suggestions and directions. These are quite handy for the times when you are limited in how long you can spend in one place.  Whether you prefer guides that are more descriptive with limited images or more visual ones, there is something for everyone.  I have a number of guides that range from the quick top-10-things-to-do-here types, specific location ones as well as those covering multiple countries and cities.  Best thing about them is their longevity, because let’s be honest, the Colosseum hasn’t moved for centuries and it won’t move next year either. While you’ll be able to find the Colosseum, you want to make sure you don’t solely rely on your guide if it’s few years old as other things would have changed since that was published.  Remember, research should have multiple sources.

If you don’t care about lugging books around, there are many travel guide apps that work well without Internet connection. These are especially handy with mapping out directions from your location, finding places to eat and general getting around.

These are my favourite ways for inspiration. As anyone else that has been bitten by the travel bug, I don’t have a problem of finding places to go to. My problem is finding the time and means to get to the next place on my list.  It’s a challenge I take on very seriously.

What are your favourite ways to find inspiration for travel?

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