How Instagram helped plan my trip to Milan

14 August 2018

I’ve talked before about the dangers of social media, discussing whether we as a generation spend too much time using social media and the negatives of this on our mental health. But what I did miss out was the positives of the ‘gram and other social platforms when it comes to travel planning. According to a recent survey,  87% of Millennials on Facebook said they use the social media site for travel inspiration, while 20% use Twitter and Pinterest.

I recently took a trip to Milan. Like my past trips, before I leave the U.K., I will always consult travel guides such as Lonely Planet to source all the must sees, as well as read up about the culture and local history of a place (nerd alert). As of my most recent trip to Milan, I will now turn to the ‘gram to see where I should be going when I’m in a new place. 

To highly caveat, planning an itinerary through Instagram is solely basing the destinations on solely what looks nice to the eye. It certainly doesn’t account for all the culture and local experiences that exist when visiting a country, but it can sure give you a head start for when your plane lands at the airport. 

From day dot, Instagram has always allowed you to tag your location in posts. So, quite logically as soon as I book a holiday I will immediately type in the destination and see what are the most recent and most popular photos. For Milan, it was the Duomo. The Duomo di Milano is fifth largest Christian church in the world.

So, Duomo metro station was my first stop.

The Instagram stories tool also allows you to enter the location of a city, for example ‘Milan’ – and then presents you with a collection of stories to watch, thoughtfully put together by one of the infamous algorithms of Instagram.  Watching the stories of people who I don't follow allowed me to find out about the terrace at the top of the cathedral. The architecture and imagery of the cathedral infrastructure looked stunning, but then I went on IGTV to watch a couple of (random) people document their experiences - most of which claimed that the terrace on the cathedral was underwhelming and not worth doing. 

But in true Maya style, I failed to listen and bought a ticket to the top of the cathedral, walking up stairs for about 10 minutes in the 32-degree heat, to be greeted by the most stunning views of the cathedrals spires and the city of Milan. I highly recommend this – there’s a ticket that gets you entry to the Duomo, the crypt, roof terrace and the Duomo museum for 12.50EUR. Apart from the shopping and the food, the Duomo is one of the main attractions in Milan, so for me it made complete sense to buy this.

What’s great about looking at platforms like Instagram and Youtube prior to travelling is that you can gauge how busy a place is and its popularity based on the reactions of people - whether individuals are genuinely excited to be there or whether they just go to get the highly pretentious 'i've been here' gram pictures!

Of course, food is a big part of travelling. And when in Rome (or Milan as I was), eat what the Romans (or Milanese) eat. Walking around and finding a restaurant is great, but sometimes you’ll have a place in mind that you want to eat at even before you board the departing plane. I wanted to eat around the Navigli district, as it's the nightlife centre of the city – and more importantly I wanted aperitivo and by checking social media, Navigli looked like the perfect place for some (Apreitivo = alcohol served with finger food)

Got a restaurant in mind? Open Instagram and let it act as a real-time menu. You can choose what to order off the menu based on people's photos and micro-reviews i.e. captions. (I mean, it's 2018, who doesn't take a picture of their food?)

The tourist board accounts for a town, city or country are also a great shout. 

Milan has some beautiful parks, and the local tourism boards often post pictures of the ‘hidden gems’ of a place. Parco Sempione in Milan is one of these.

Let’s not forget travel bloggers and local photographers. After all, travel bloggers do blog about travel. Bloggers are supposed to be trusted, so it’s always worth checking the social media of a few travel bloggers that have been to your holiday destination to get the low down.

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