Who doesn’t love travel? Seeking out new experiences, seeing the sights, and immersing yourself in different cultures is a widespread and ever-growing activity. One survey conducted by Travel Leaders Group even found that 91% of North American consumers plan to travel the same amount—or more!—this year. That enthusiasm naturally bleeds into social media feeds, where users constantly post about places they’ve been. #Travel was the top trending hashtag on Instagram last year during the summer months, with 1.8 million posts using it in March alone. With that many showing up in just one month, it’s easy to stumble upon an amazing vacation shot from friends when browsing the feed.

Wondering how to achieve the same thing? If you’re planning a trip and want to keep your followers connected, having visually-pleasing posts is the key. Here are five travel photography tips for capturing the most Instagram-worthy scenes.



Be on time.


What does being time-conscious have to do with taking great photos? Well, other than sticking to your travel itinerary and catching the right buses or trains, it’s all about the light. While being spontaneous and taking photos at any time of day is part and parcel of the travel experience, when you have the opportunity, nothing beats golden hour—according to professional photographer Alex Waltner, on Instagram as @swedishnomad: “Light plays a big part in how your pictures will turn out, and many of the best images are shot during the golden hour, which occurs twice a day.” To catch it, Loic Lagarde recommends waking up early: “Wake up early to get the best light and atmosphere, regardless of whether you shoot landscapes, cities or even people.” Plus, waking up early means you get to see the best sights before any other tourists arrive.



Know the hot spots.


Pick a background based on your main subject. If you want to showcase your picture-perfect #ootd, choose a spot that won’t split attention from what you’re wearing. Why else are so many shots taken in front of attractive walls and doors? Most importantly, though, do your research. Find out the best popular (and hidden) attractions wherever you’re going and you can hit two birds with one stone: find a spot that gives an unforgettable experience but also acts as a beautiful backdrop. Christine Tran of @tourdelust says it like a secret: “One thing that I don't share—even on Instagram stories—is the planning process and researching places.” On the other hand, if you want to be more spontaneous, one tip for dreamy vacation photos is to use places with interesting color combinations as a background.



Identify good composition.

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You won’t always be able to arrange scenes exactly to your liking. But honing your skill with photo composition will let you find a spark of beauty in every scene. A good tip for any photographer is to follow the rule of thirds. According to influencer Nicole Warne, “If you turn on your ‘Grid’ mode in your settings, this helps break your camera screen into three columns on your screen, which helps you to frame your photo and subject. Try shooting your subject in one third of the frame, with the surroundings filling the other two thirds of the frame and see if you like the results.”



Have the right tools at your disposal.


Taking great Instagram-worthy photos on the go is a piece of cake if you bring the proper tools. The great thing about mobile phone photography is most of what you need can be used from apps with the click of a button. Having an app with a large variety of photo filters, like Instasize, can take the guesswork out of post-processing. Just select a filter, see how it looks on the original image, and move on to the next one if it doesn’t meet your standards. Instagram has their own in-built filters and editing tools, but it never hurts to have more options for when that doesn’t make the cut.



Complete the presentation.


One of the most underrated travel photography tips is that no Instagram post is complete without a great caption. Ciara Johnson emphasizes finding your “why.” Select your niche and purpose, whether it’s imparting helpful travel advice, showcasing different cultures, or just appreciating the sight of a good-looking location. She says: “Finding a niche will help you establish your voice. If you can establish yourself as an expert in a few areas, then your audience will know what to expect. They will come to trust you to provide more information and inspiration. When they need inspiration about how to plan their first solo trip or what to wear to their beach vacation, they'll know exactly where to look.”