Now, these are what we like to call epic photo ops.
Love it or hate it, people will do just about anything for the 'gram these days, from holding a forearm stand in a vineyard to getting real about food babies—it's part of what makes the platform so addictive. (See why your Instagram addiction actually makes you happier.) And now you can add "taking lavish trips" to that list. A recent study published in the International Journal of Applied Engineering Research showed that "being in fashion"—which in this context means looking cool in Instagram photos and capturing those coveted likes—was the number-one motivator for wellness tourism. And that was more important than traveling for more personal reasons like enhancing your quality of life, getting mental therapy, and pursuing a healthy lifestyle. And a whopping 40 percent of people under age 33 admit that they prioritize "Instagramability" when choosing their next vacation spot, according to results from a survey conducted by Schofields, a U.K. insurance provider for holiday rental homes.
Social media is much more important to millennials than to other generations, too, with 40 percent of millennial international travelers saying they wish they could be more like the person they portray on social media, compared to only 22 percent of Gen Xer's and 14 percent of Baby Boomers, according to a 2016 report by Expedia. (Yet another reason to take what you see online with a grain of salt.)
Now, we're big believers in traveling to satisfy your own wanderlust, sense of adventure, desire to get out of your comfort zone—all of the above—over boosting your clout online. But why not do all that while snapping some incredible and memorable photos along the way? (Psst: 4 Reasons Why Adventure Travel Is Worth Your PTO) Our take? Choose destinations where you'll have authentic experiences and learn a lot while you're there (even if it's just a quick weekend getaway or a staycation wellness retreat). Do that, and take your followers along for the ride with stories, snaps, and posts, and we can promise that you (and your followers) will never forget the trip. (Get inspired: 15 Instagram Accounts for Eye-Popping Travel Porn)
Taj Mahal, India
#NoFilter needed here. The grandeur of the Taj Mahal is on full display from any angle, at any time of day. Start your trip in Jaipur in Northern India, where you can see many ancient temple sites. Then make the four-and-a-half-hour trek (worth it) to one of the world's most famous monuments, which sees more than 8 million visitors a year.
Vinicunca Mountain, Peru
Commonly known as Rainbow Mountain, this 16,000-foot majestic marvel may be one of the hardest hikes you ever do—but you'll be rewarded at the top. The colors come from thick stripes of mineral deposits across sandstone rock, previously hidden under a thick layer of ice. It's recommended to hike with a guide and spend a few days in Cusco (a four-hour drive away) first to acclimate to the altitude. (Related: 10 Picturesque National Parks Worth Hiking)
Gamla Stan, Stockholm
Stockholm sunset . . . . . . #visitstockholm #stockholm #stockholm_insta #viewstockholm #visitsweden #this_is_stockholm #sweden #swedenimages #topswedenphoto #toursweden #ig_sweden #discoverswe #sweden_photolovers #visitscandinavia #bestcitybreaks #awesomepix #europe_vacations #aroundtheworldpix #awesome_photographers #living_europe #map_of_europe #wonderful_places #fantastic_earthpix #europe_greatshots #topeuropephoto #comment4comment #beautifuldestinations #discover_earthpix #yallerseurope @visitstockholm @europe.vacations @sweden @beautifuldestinations @wonderful_places @visitsweden
Gamla Stan, translated literally to "Old Town," in the Swedish capital of Stockholm is one of the largest medieval city centers in Europe. Venture down the narrow, winding cobblestone streets; duck into one of many local cafes for an afternoon fika (a Swedish term for coffee break); and snap pics of the brightly colored buildings that look to be straight out of a storybook, even on snowy days.
Spencer Glacier, Alaska
In case you never read the bio thingy on my account, my name is actually Nicole, but Nipole is acceptable* (I’ll explain why a little later in the caption). I’m really good at a few things, including: floating, blowing snot rockets**, eating copious amounts of food in a single sitting, posing awkwardly in photos, finding cool places, crashing bikes (motorized, or not), climbing things whether they are mountains or roadside signs, and falling off of and out of things. I’ve shit my pants in more countries than I can count and I don’t get embarrassed easily. I don’t typically wear dresses and floppy hats to take photos, and I’ve also figured out how to use this camera thingy I carry around with me, despite having a tiny dumb girl brain that couldn’t possibly know how to use this contraption in manual one time a taxi driver I hired in Myanmar had my name spelled Nipole on his sign outside the train station and it made me realize how close Nicole is to the word nipple and was like well, it took 30 years but this is who I am now. **if you don’t know what a snot rocket is, it’s this: you plug one side of your nose and forcefully blow out the other to clear the snot out. #alaska #mountaingirls #thealaskalife #glacier #spencerglacier #wearetravelgirls #rei1440project #naturealaska #idonthavearichhusbandoratrustfund #neverstopexploring #letsgoeverywhere #dametraveler #darlingescapes #mountainadventures #sheisnotlost #wheresmypizza?
If you've ever wanted to set foot in a crystal ice palace, head north—way north—to Alaska's Spencer Glacier, about 60 miles south of Anchorage. You'll get in a great workout (read: the switch-backing, steep paths to the top are tough), experience what rugged Alaska is really like, and have an excuse to splurge on a new Canada Goose parka. (Related: Breckenridge Is the Winter Sports Vacation Destination You Need to Know About)
The Bund, Shanghai
I couldn’t believe my eyes when we got to the Bund in Shanghai, I felt like I was in the future. I didn’t know what to expect of Shanghai going there but it has left me completely impressed and speechless at the same time. It is a city much more advanced than I could of imagined. This was a stunning view #thebundshanghai #shanghai #shanghaiskyline #theshanghaipearl #stunning #shanghainights #thebund #bundshanghai #instatravel #traveladdict #travelphotography #travelphotography #traveler #china
As many world travelers will attest, you haven't been to Shanghai if you haven't seen the Bund—and it's especially spectacular at night. Get the perfect shot on the waterfront promenade adjacent the iconic Oriental Pearl Tower, which stands 1,535 feet tall and is one of the most photographed sights in the Bund.
A visit to the Amalfi Coast feels like a Technicolor dream, between the bright seaside houses, the silvery pebble beaches, and the aqua-blue sea. Pack a suitcase full of your cutest bikinis for basking in the Mediterranean sun in popular Capri or lesser-known Fornillo, and take a sea taxi to bays like Clavel or Cavone, only accessible via water. (Related: Why Dominica Should Be Next On Your Travel Bucket List)
Combine the red rock landscape of Arches National Park and the deep canyons of Canyonlands National Park into one trip around Moab, a true gem in the American Southwest. Spend your days hiking, biking, and exploring. Then head into Moab for small-town hospitality and microbreweries.
Avenue of the Baobabs, Madagascar
"Mother of the Forest" My expedition through Madagascar was a challenging experience. It pulled me close to its people, their life story, their strength and struggle. It made me question our actions regarding the conservation of the planet and its nature. It made me doubt my abilities as a photographer. It made me be thankful for everything I have, and showed me to not take it for granted. It made me grow. I really could not have asked more from this trip, it gave me a lot and asked a lot from me in return. I believe that I have been able to experience the two faces of Africa, their overwhelming natural beauty, and their social and human pain. I am so grateful for the opportunities of life that have brought me to this moment and that have led me to experience these realities and these feelings. Photography has totally changed my life and breaking free of our own bubble has transformed me. For the moment I leave you with one of my favorite photographs of the trip: a mother among the baobabs, the iconic and sacred trees of Madagascar that symbolizes the mother of the forest, its protector.
The Menabe region in western Madagascar draws travelers from around the world to admire and snap photos of the incredible baobab trees, which can be up to 800 years old. Once part of a dense tropical forest, the region was cleared for agriculture over the years and now only the trees, which locals depend on as a food source (they produce nutrient-rich fruit) and building material, remain. The scene is especially dramatic at sunset.
At this little village, known as the Venice of Holland, there are no roads—only waterways, and every "street" is accessible solely by boat. Book a canal cruise for a guided tour of the picturesque farms, charming houses, and canalside restaurants, or rent your own "whisper boat" (a dinghy driven by an electric motor) to explore the more than 55 miles of idyllic waterways. (Related: These Health Benefits of Camping Will Turn You Into an Outdoor Person)
Blue Lagoon, Iceland
Thanks to a huge number of direct flights added to Iceland in the last few years, the country has experienced an unprecedented influx of tourism. So while the famous Blue Lagoon may be a bit more crowded than you'd like, with careful framing, it still makes a great photo opp. The Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland, a new 62-suite resort that allows you to stay right next to the geothermal waters, opens late this spring.
Lake Hillier, Australia
Millennial pink totally your color? Head for Western Australia ASAP, where you can pose alongside numerous pink lakes, the largest of which is Lake Hillier. While no one can say for sure where the color comes from, scientists speculate it's due to a dye created by bacteria that live in the salt crusts (okay, so you may not want to swim in it).
Rangali Island, Maldives
A popular honeymoon destination, the exotic Maldives were practically made for Instagram. But Conrad Maldives Rangali Island takes it to another level with a dedicated Instagram butler on staff who'll take you to the best locations around the resort for photos and teach you how to capture the perfect shot during the magical golden hour, right after sunrise or before sunset. (Related: 4 Reasons the Cayman Islands Are the Perfect Trip for Swimmers and Water Lovers)