“Travel is a fantastic self-development tool,” writes Mark Manson, author of the NYT bestseller The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. “It…forces you to reexamine what seems obvious in your own life and to consider that perhaps it’s not necessarily the best way to live.”
Each of these travel accounts transports both the eye and the mind to far-off locales while inspiring you to rethink the world around you, some even going so far as to challenge cultural stereotypes and push your social justice buttons. These aren’t your typical travelers, so forget about the cliche silhouettes against a Bali sunset or the often-copied-but-never-improved-on “falling off a cliff” photos at Potato Chip Rock.
If you want an Instagram feed that will make you want to immediately pack a suitcase and reach for your passport, hit “follow” and start racking up your virtual travel miles.
Lauren Carey – @girlgoneabroad
Lauren focuses on solo female travel. She’s actually hiked from Cusco to Peru’s Rainbow Mountain (with an elevation change of 17,000 feet) alone, on foot. She’s proof that you don’t need a travel partner to see the world.
Kirsten Alana – @kirstenalana
So often, travel bloggers on Instagram feel too curated, focusing on the perfect shot without giving context of where they are or what it took to get there. That’s not the case with Kirsten. She invites you to join her journey. Each of her posts include a wealth of information and travel tips that she’s picked up along the way. On a recent post, she shared a bit about the history of Mumbai, then gave some reviews on where to stay and what to look for.
Gareth Leonard – @Tourist2Townie
A common criticism of the Instagram travel world is that other countries are only portrayed from a privileged, one-dimensional perspective. One very prominent travel blogger even called the trend “unbelievably damaging” stating that it “perpetuates colonialism and turns travel into a new form of imperialism.” Not so with Gareth, who travels the world to help himself (and his 73K followers) understand other people and other cultures. His photos are gorgeous and many of his posts champion social justice initiatives and fundraising.
Travis Burke – @travisburkephotography
Did you know the United States has 60 national parks, many of which are designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites? For three years Travis has been profiling America’s astounding natural beauty, from the snowy peaks of mountains down to the sunny and sandy beaches of the east and west coasts. He is proof that you don’t have to go abroad to have your breath taken away.
Drew Binsky – @drewbinsky
Many travel bloggers make it look like you need to spend a fortune to see the world. If you want proof that you can go far on a few dollars, Drew volunteers as your guide. His profile includes various video series that highlight what you can do in certain cities for 10 dollars or less.
We can’t possibly list them all, but there are several other outstanding accounts that put their own unique spin on travel:
- @sailingtotem – Would you ever consider raising your family on a boat? In 2008, Jamie and Behan Gifford quit their upper class lifestyle in Seattle, packed their kids onto a boat, and haven’t looked back since. “Our children have gained an appreciation for how rich their options are in life, their control over their destiny, and how precious and uncommon this is in the world,” the family recently told Alive magazine. “It’s a priceless education.”
- @packingitout – Three friends hiked the epic Appalachian Trail and were horrified by the amount of trash left behind by campers and hikers. Their travel Instagram isn’t just travel porn for camping enthusiasts, but also a force for good as they work to bring awareness to the Leave No Trace philosophy.
- @idletheorybus: #VanLife is a minimalist movement aiming to help us simplify and disconnect. There are thousands of campers who travel across the Americas in their trendy vans that double as their homes. Kit and J.R. do exactly that, and share jaw-dropping shots of the U.S. and their nomadic life.
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By day, Josh Duvauchelle is the co-founder of Frey Union, a marketing firm in Vancouver, BC. By night, he’s a health and wellness coach featured in Teen Vogue, Men’s Journal, Shape, Men’s Fitness, and more. Find him on Instagram under @joshduv. Josh is a member of #ThePaidCrew editorial team.