Cultural Experience | New York City

How an app you already use can be your go to travel tool.

My #1 Travel Tip

Whenever I travel to a new place, whether for a short weekend trip or a longer extended stay, I always come prepared with a list of restaurants, museums, and other sites I want to check out. People always ask me, “Where did you find this restaurant?” or “How did you find out about this event?” The answer is almost always the same: Instagram. Instagram is a surprisingly helpful travel tool with built-in digital maps of cities, but you have to know how to use it. You can see some of my own Instagram finds in the pictures within this article.

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The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh – Found on Instagram

The Location Tool:

Nowadays everyone tags their location on most of their Instagram posts. If you’re planning a trip to London and want to check out some of the coolest restaurants in the city, you don’t even need to follow someone from London to find them.

Use the search feature to see all the posts in London. Instagram even includes posts that weren’t necessarily tagged as “London,” but are tagged as a place the app knows is in the city in the results. Just scroll through and check out any posts that interest you. If you see something that looks cool, it’s possible the location will say the specific restaurant/museum/location of the post or the poster could have included it in the caption.

You can then narrow your search for just posts from that location to see more posts. If you do follow someone, who lives in your city of choice I would recommend that you creep hardcore on their posts for any interesting places to check out. Or you could just DM them and ask for recommendations, whichever you prefer.

You may also like: 6 Local Museums you should visit in London

When I travelled to Toronto this summer, I used Instagram to find every restaurant we ate at that weekend, as well as the best nightlife spots. I didn’t know anyone from Toronto, so I found everything by searching through posts tagged in Toronto and it was a solid weekend full of great food and fun.

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The Smith in Toronto- Found on Instagram


When it comes to finding the best places to eat in a new city, Foodstagrams are often your best bet.

These accounts are full of pictures of drool-worthy meals and the restaurant is almost tagged. A lot of them post about special events as well, such as festivals or seasonal markets. Many of them are city or location specific, making them easy to find.

Just search for the name of your city with a keyword like “food” “eats” or “foodie” and you’ll be sure to get some results. Some of my favorite NYC Foodstagrams include @foodbabynyc , @new_fork_city, @carnivorr, and @mollytavoletti.

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Dizengoff in Philadelphia- Found on Instagram

City accounts:

Did you know that there’s a huge sub-category of accounts with the sole intention of keeping their followers up to date with new things to do in their city? There is and it’s amazing. I follow a bunch of these accounts for every city I’ve ever lived in, which gives me some major FOMO when I miss things in the cities I’m not in.

When I studied abroad in Tel Aviv, I found out about new restaurant and bar openings, art exhibits, and other events all the time just from following some accounts like this. These were things I probably wouldn’t have heard about as a foreign student otherwise. Even in New York City, where I live most of the time, accounts like @datethiscity, @fomofeed, and @ happened_upon keep me up to date about new events where I live.

In Madrid, I’ve been using @madriddiferente, @planmadrid, and @secretosdemadrid whenever I need something new and different to do in the city. To find some of these accounts in the city you’re living in, try searching for the city name along with a keyword like “plan” or “secrets.”

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A temporary exhibit in NYC- Found on Instagram


Other travel accounts:

Finally, I would recommend that, if you’re not already following a bunch of travel inspiration feeds, you start! These can inspire you to take a weekend trip to a place you might not have heard of or considered before. Start with the College Tourist account- @officialcollegetourist and go from there!

You may also like: 12 Student Instagram accounts to follow


How to Use Instagram as a travel tool

Brianna Thompson

New York University | 3 stories

Bri is currently a Junior at New York University where she is studying Politics, Rights, and Development. After spending a semester in Tel Aviv, Israel last fall, she's back at it again this year studying abroad in Madrid, Spain for the year! Besides traveling, she's really into trying out new restaurants, reading, and learning new languages. Follow her on Instagram @bri.thompson to see where in the world she is.

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