Travel Instagram 101: Hashtag Living My Best Life
Let us put you on to something: your Instagram feed is an even better place than you think to reminisce on past travels, get inspired, and connect with like-minded wanderlusting scrollers. You just need to know how to get the most out of it! Luckily, we have more than a little experience with that.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. We all know that traveling expands your horizons, gives you a peek into other cultures, and allows you to meet some cool people (and if you didn’t know that—how did you find this blog? Oh man do I have news for you. DM me. Let’s talk.).
But, part of the fun of travel is also showing off all of the awesome stuff you did/ate/jumped into/saw (while making all your friends jealous). Because if you don’t share it on Instagram…did it really happen? If a tree falls in the forest without any online clout, did it ever exist? Plus, this is the perfect time to lean into those throwback photos that have been sitting in your camera roll. We're all daydreaming about the next time we can safely get back out into the world, and a healthy dose of travel inspo might be just the thing to keep you motivated while you wait for your seventh sourdough starter to be ready.
As the person who manages the EF Ultimate Break Instagram account (#followus), I’m always trying new ways to get those sweet, sweet hits of serotonin that come with getting all the likes. Here are some of my favorite tips that’ll help you get all the likes, too.
This is when you “Add Location” to the top of your Instagram post. Simple, right? But it needs to be said. Always use a geotag. Especially with travel photos. Not only is it a great way to humble-brag about how worldly you are while still leaving room in the caption for terrible puns and dad jokes, this also ensures that when someone searches the place you’re in, your post could show up.
You might even get lucky and show up in the “Explore” feed. Instagram sources photos for the “Explore” feed by location, things you like and people you follow. For instance, mine is almost exclusively travel, chonky animals, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine memes. My “Explore” feed is my happy place.
2. Play with hashtags
Use hashtags to extend the reach of your post (more people = more ❤️s). You can keep it simple with #rome or #travel, but you can also go crazy with something like #wheninromeeatgelato.
When you’re figuring out which hashtags to use, start with a mix of generic ones that are more likely to be searched (#italy #travel #adventure). Then, you can put in more specific ones (#ultimatebreak #thisisultimate #ilikewritinglonghashtags). I’ve found that posting 7-10 hashtags is best. Don’t be the 30-hashtag person. No one likes that person. Also, putting hashtags in your first comment keeps the image caption clean, and it just looks better (though I do like to put my favorite hashtag in the image caption). It's that simple.
If you’re posting from one of our trips (you lucky dog!!), be sure to use #thisisultimate! It’s the quickest way for us to build a collection of amazing traveler memories, AND we sometimes use it in photo contests, so your Insta habits could actually end up helping to fund your next trip! Win-win! Just like when I told my dad I was going to start getting paid for all the time I was already spending on Instagram.
3. Tags & mentions
This doesn’t mean tag anyone and everyone. Only tag the people that it makes sense to tag; tag @efultimatebreak (because you’re on an EF Ultimate Break trip), tag your friend who’s in the picture or the people you’re with at that moment, tag the weird statue of the boar as your boyfriend. You get the gist. This is another way to get more exposure. You can “mention” the important person or brand (cough cough @efultimatebreak) in your caption and then tag people or brands in the image.
4. Choose a look & feel and stick with it
Go look at some of your favorite Instagram profiles; you’ll notice all of their pictures “feel” similar. Try to stick with a specific filter, method, or subject. Although our Instagram has pictures with slightly different filters and times of day, our profile stays cohesive because our subject is always travel.
Some people are borderline artistic geniuses with their feeds and curate by color so that when you scroll through the entire feed has a look and feel. Personally, that’s not for me, but if it strikes your fancy and you can pull it off, more power to you! I’ll definitely throw you a follow for effort.
5. Time of day when you post
Time of day is a tricky thing. It is not easy to determine the perfect time to post to get the most likes as it changes from day to day, depending on who follows you.
A couple of tips though: post when people are more likely to be on their phones—lunch, commuting times, before bed. And avoid posting when people are sleeping. This is good to keep in mind when you’re traveling in a different time zone!
Also, with the way that Instagram's algorithm works, posts stay higher in people’s feeds for more time. The app will also more reliably show you things if it thinks it knows what you like. So for example, if you like every single one of our posts (#shamelessplug) Instagram might place our photos toward the top of your feed more often!
6. The rule of thirds and other photography tips
Instagram is all about the pics, so knowing a little about photography helps. The rule of thirds simply means envisioning the composition of your picture in thirds. The focus of your image would therefore take up one, or maybe two, thirds. Turn on the grid lines in your photo settings to help with this (Settings > Photo & Camera > Grid). This isn’t to say that a perfectly centered focus or symmetrical picture isn’t just as good (Wes Anderson movies, anyone?).
Try out different tactics and figure out your own photography style. Also try playing with the lighting by tapping the screen of your phone and dragging the little line next to yellow box up or down. And finally, turn on HDR (just like TV—HD pictures are better looking).
7. Level up your editing game
Instagram’s in-app editing tools are pretty reliable and good, but if you want to take things to the next level, I’d recommend playing with other photo editing tools available in the App Store. VSCO has some great pre-programmed filters and a few more options for tweaking your photos (you can play with highlights and shadows, change up the temperature of the photo, and a bunch of other stuff—and that’s just in the free version).
Instagram Stories is its own WHOLE THING (another blog post maybe? Stay tuned), but there are some super handy apps for stepping your game up there too. Did anyone see our Ultimate Storyteller Mariah’s updates from the road this summer? Go check out our highlights, but be ready for FOMO. She used an app called Unfold. I also love Canva to create eye-popping Instagram Stories!
Now that you’re armed with the knowledge and power to create wanderlust-worthy travel ~content~, grab your giant sunhat (for Belize), your flowy white sundress (for Greece), your red lipstick (Paris, duh), your Kenya khaki, your scuba mask, your…you get it. Just get ready to get out there (when it’s safe, of course)!! I can’t wait to see all the amazing posts you tag us in from the road. And don’t forget to tag us our Instagram is made up exclusively of photos from our real-life travelers, and I’m just dying to give you your moment of Internet fame.
Written by Haley DeLuca
Haley is the Social Media Community Lead at EF Ultimate Break. She loves extremely bitter coffee, cooking but not baking, and pretending she never had a Glee phase. Her favorite place in the world is Rome, Italy.