How To: Using Instagram to Plan the Perfect Trip

I love social media and I love to travel, so it probably isn’t much of a surprise when I say that I always use social media when planning a getaway. Instagram is particularly helpful, because people share the most beautiful place they saw during their day, which usually means it’s worth your time as well. This was really helpful in Costa Rica (check out all the highlights in this post) because it was a shorter trip, which meant less time to wander and happen upon the coolest places on our own. Here are 3 ways I used Instagram to make our trip extra-amazing:

1. Research Local Hashtags Before You Go

Start with basic location-based hashtags (like #costarica, #sanjose and #manuelantonio) and let Instagram’s suggestions lead you down a rabbit hole. Collect a list of 15 or 20 of the the most promising, based on how the photos look, how many posts there are and how relevant they are to what you want to do on your trip.

How To Use Social Media to Plan a Vacation | Succulents and Sunnies
There are 3 reasons you should do this:

  1. Take a look at what people are already posting to discover unique must-dos and restaurants.
  2. Post pictures of your own trip with these hashtags for more likes AND to help future travelers.
  3. Help local attractions find you. Cafe Milagro in Manual Antonio commented on a photo I posted and we ended up going 3 times. We would have never chosen it on our own, but the craft beer, live music and local coffee were all amazing!

2. Search the Cities You’ll Be Visiting

Instagram’s “Places” are also really helpful when you’re looking for things to do. I like this feature because it not only lets you scroll through all the photos tagged as in that city (Quepos, Costa Rica for example), but also at locations within that city (like Playa Manuel Antonio).

How To Use Social Media to Plan a Vacation | Succulents and Sunnies
This really helps when you’re trying to figure out which must-dos are where, especially when they’re not in a book or on Google Maps (like the can’t-be-missed Playa Biesanz). Plus, Instagram’s new location stories make this easier than ever!

3. Follow Local Attractions You Want to Visit

This goes for local businesses you’re planning on patronizing too. To stay up to date on hours, special events and even coupons, give places you really want to visit a follow. Their posts could help you decide what day you stop by or other nearby stops you should make. This tip can also be applied to Facebook and Twitter, depending on where the attraction or business is most active. If you’re visiting a country where you don’t speak the language, Facebook’s native translation will do a good enough job to get the point across.

Now go and plan a killer vacation! And let me know how you use social media to find the coolest places on your next trip.

Inspired by Coffee ☕

This image from Steamworks, which I first posted on Instagram, was picked to be part of last week’s Step Out Buffalo Project #HashtagStepOutBuffalo roundup. I love these roundups and I am so honored to be a part of this amazing collection of local photos!

This isn’t the first time I’m mentioning Steamworks, the new cafe in Lockport. I highly recommend a trip there for an afternoon of coffee and board games! Unfortunately, I can only recommend the pour over brews, because they’re so good I haven’t tried anything else.

Last week, I discovered #MoodBoardMonday, which I cannot believe I didn’t know existed before now. I love, love love mood boards, but I haven’t had a chance to work on any branding projects lately. The discovery of this hashtag made me miss the inspiration I always sense when putting together the perfect feel for a new project.

Who says you need a real project to get inspired? Not me! I’m using the cozy, steampunk feel of the coffee shop to guide this collection of images, colors and textures.

I love the comforting, homey textures of the wood grain and coffee stains paired with the edgier, technicolor rust that is at the same time natural and otherworldly. The burlap coffee bags and soothing watercolors add rustic touches. The smooth white coffee cups and carafes, along with the sleek keyboards and cameras of the shop’s patrons finish off the space into a symbiotic collection of textures and colors that leaves me inspired.

Let’s Do This

You know those hours, days, weeks where you’re feeling inspired by everything you see and hear and read? I’m having one of those weeks and I’m not going to let it go to waste!

Most importantly, I finally made this a real blog! While I was job hunting, I used this website as a platform to put my work in one place, while also including a blog (which I actually started for a class in college). Now that I’m employed, I’ve found that I really love sharing my thoughts and photos here, even if no one reads them. So, welcome to the new Succulents & Sunnies, a place I’ve dedicated for documenting my travels, thoughts and inspiration. Stay tuned for a logo!

I also recently signed up for Canva for work, because we’re (hopefully) starting to get serious about content marketing and the power of social sharing. An article from their blog by Jessica Safko about social media images landed in my inbox and got me seriously excited about some really incredible visuals for both my personal social channels as well as other projects I’m working on. Also, how did I not know #moodboardmondays existed? I’m in love!

The featured image on this post is thanks to Canva, which, if you’re looking for cool designs but aren’t an InDesign guru, could definitely be for you.

A few other wonderful things that are keeping me fired up this week:

  • I went to the gym EVERY DAY this week. It’s amazing how much just a half hour of moving around can improve your mood.
  • A bible study pearl of wisdom: Sometimes, we overlook or discount sources of wisdom, simply because of our personal biases. (Thanks Anna, not only for this nugget, but also always reading my posts!)
  • Yesterday, I took time to focus on me, drinking delicious coffee at Steamworks, one of my new favorite places, before a massage.

What has you inspired lately? I’m always looking for new creators, writers, photographers, marketers, activists and big thinkers for insight, encouragement and motivation!

Views: Water2Wear on the Farm

Views: Water2Wear at Flynn Farms | Taylor K Flynn

My aunt launched an adorable line of travel slipper socks last fall and I’m working on creating a social media presence for the brand. Water2Wear is a perfect fit for so many Instagram communities as a product focused on travel and ethical fashion. I’m curating a feed of product shots, travel photography and content from awareness-raising humanitarian organization and it’s SO MUCH FUN. The best part is that 10 percent of every purchase goes to water.org to provide clean drinking water to those in need.

This weekend I visited my grandparents in the beautiful Finger Lakes, and what better place to photograph the drop sock from Water2Wear than on my dad’s family farm? My dad and I had a great time putting the socks in front of tractors and silos. Take a look at some of my favorite shots here and check out Water2Wear on Instagram too!

Views: Water2Wear at Flynn Farms | Taylor K Flynn

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Views: Water2Wear at Flynn Farms | Taylor K Flynn

Breaking Out of the Social Media Box

I still really, really love Instagram, and Facebook is a necessary communication tool for individuals and brands alike. Recently, however, I’ve been getting creative with a few lesser-known social media. I’m enjoying expressing myself using different styles of communication and it’s making me think differently about how I share my thoughts and adventures. My current favorites:

1. So I might be way late on this train, but I’m loving what you can do with Phhhoto. The app, which launched during the summer of 2014, takes 3 pictures and loops them into a video. It’s basically Instagram’s Boomerang, without, you know, the boomerang.

2. My organized, analytical, compartmentalized self is loving li.st. A lot. This app takes travel, news, comedy and so much more and displays it in super-digestible nuggets that make me want to keep scrolling down my feed forever.

3. Goodreads is a little less social than other social media I use, but that’s mostly due to how I’m using it. The platform allows you to connect with friends and groups to see what they’re reading, discuss the book club’s latest and get inspired. I’m using the app for recommendations and to keep track of what I’ve read and am currently reading.

Let’s connect! My username on these (and every) social media is TFlynn457. Are you trying out any other social media not quite in the main stream? Let me know; I’m always looking for the latest and greatest!