Last year, I booked a family holiday to Utah in May (which we are still doing despite our decision to travel the world for a year, beginning July). Naturally, I searched Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram for local insights I could call on whilst we’re in Utah.
Boy, can you elbow into a destination with social media! I can find gigs via the Salt Lake Magazine on Twitter, swimming holes via Newscastic on Pinterest and hiking routes via @GirlOnAHike on Instagram.
Instagram comes into its own here. It’s so freakin’ clever. I followed some Utah-specific accounts and then, by clicking Explore, it showcased a load of other accounts in the same vein. Most of the nature and landscape photography on Instagram is divine, and the platform keeps showing me great feeds with beautiful images from around the world.
In amongst the photos of Cornwall by @SaltySeaKat, unusual views of far-flung places by @BeautifulDestinations, normally overlooked details of Bristol by @clooroo, snaps of mountain-biking women taking on tough terrain by @strongherCC, there has always been @GirlOnAHike smiling out at me. Aka Alicia Baker: outdoor enthusiast/guide/blogger/crazy dog lady/SLC, she posts photos of herself taking in the views of Utah from the trails.
If you’ve read Wild by Cheryl Strayed or watched the film starring Reese Witherspoon, you too may have been touched with a wistful yearning to explore the world (and your life) one step at a time, on foot, via arduous trails through forests, plains and mountain ranges.
There’s always a smidgeon of truth in a joke
I jokingly claim that my idea to travel around the world was inspired by Instagram – it’s (partly) true!
I don’t know if @GirlOnAHike is on a spiritual journey or simply having nice walks. The red rock of Utah’s national parks suggests warmth, adventure and infinite time. I imagine myself in her place, absorbing the vista.
These windows to the world via Instagram, by individuals on social media allowing me a peek into their life landscapes, called on me to change my own view. Looking out of my son’s bedroom window, seeing no further than half a mile up the hill and into the domestic setting of my neighbour’s house that mirrored my own, I felt another picture bleeding through. Almost superimposed on my mind through Instagram. Far-away places. Long-reaching views. Unusual perspectives.
Travel inspired by Instagram
I’m trying to avoid saying ‘Instagram inspiration’. But I willingly admit that people I’ve never met, who I know through Instagram only, talented or otherwise, driven to share their stories by self-expression or commerce or lifestyle ideals, have been feeding a big idea already seeded inside me.