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Follow the tourism board

When possible, start with the official tourism board account for your destination of choice. If it’s a good one, you’ll be inspired right off the bat with gorgeous photos. See something you like? Save it by selecting the little banner icon under each pic. Click through to the board’s website (typically in the bio); these are usually a good one-stop source for festival dates, major promotions, downloadable brochures, maps and newsletters. All handy for trip planning.

Follow locals

Looking at photos on that account, pay attention to the captions: Often they will be credited to other handles. Go check them out. Look for people who live in the area you’re planning to visit, or who appear to travel there often/have a deep love of the place. Now start following those accounts. These are the folks who will take you beyond the highlight-reel sights and into secret local spots. An influencer who simply popped in for a few days can only provide so much insight.

Follow relevant hashtags

This is another excellent way to find useful accounts. Again, start with the tourism board and its official hashtag. Move on to ones your new-found locals are using frequently. When you select one hashtag to follow, Instagram will suggest others, making it even easier. But be as specific as you can. Following #travel won’t help you here. You want to get down to the city or regional level. It’s the difference between looking at pictures of England versus Yorkshire versus the Yorkshire Dales.

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Like, like, like

The more you double-tap photos of a certain topic or destination, the more you can make the algorithm work in your favour. Tap on the magnifying-glass icon to check out your personalized Explore page. If you’ve been liking a lot of photos of, say, moody English landscapes, you should see at least a few images of foggy moors. As above, click through to see if it’s from an account worth following, and continue to grow your carefully curated collection.

Reach out

One important thing to keep in mind as you follow people: Look for Instagrammers with low follower counts. By all means, follow the professional photographer with 50,000 or more, but don’t overlook the amateur shooter with 937. Why? Because that person is likely to answer if you send a direct message asking where to find the best coffee in town. Or to help you make sense of a rural bus route. As always: Be nice, polite and grateful. You might just find yourself a new real-life friend to visit.

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