By Jenna Berndt
Travel brochures have come alive on our smartphones, especially on Instagram. It’s hardly surprising that the App has become the go-to travel inspiration site for Millennials and Generation Z travellers. An April 2019 survey by EasyJet airline revealed 32% of customers choose a travel destination based almost entirely on the quality of the photographs they’ll be able to upload to their Instagram feed.
However, one traveller’s ideal Insta-worthy vacation might be another’s worst nightmare. Discover which destinations will live up to your expectations with Flight Centre’s approved checklist.
If you’re an adventure seeker
Follow the call of the wild to Canada. From sports such as skiing and snowboarding in Whistler to kayaking with Beluga whales, polar bear sightings in the Arctic Circle, whitewater rafting and the Glacier Skywalk in Banff, Canada is an adrenalin junkie’s playground.
With a thriving gay scene throughout the country, their national pride event, Canada Pride (it’s taking place in Winnipeg in March 2020) and Toronto Pride, one of the largest celebrations in the world, Canada gets top marks from any LGBTQ traveller.
It may not be the most rand-friendly destination, so consider a guided holiday that includes most of the essentials. That will give you the most bang for your buck and protect your wallet from sudden exchange rate shocks, as well as add-on expenses (those daily breakfasts can very quickly add up). Contiki, Trafalgar, Busabout, G Adventures and Intrepid Travel are just some of the guided tour brands to choose from. Do your research as to which traveller they’re most suited to and find your perfect match.
If you’re all about the wellness
Whether it’s yoga, meditation, or simply being mindful and unplugged in nature, the wellness travel market is booming, estimated to be a US$500-billion global industry.
Head to the birthplace of yoga on International Yoga Day (21 June). India’s city of Rishikesh is credited as the birthplace of yoga in India. Nestled at the foothills of the Himalayas in the north, along the sacred Ganges river, Rishikesh is full of ashrams, spiritual retreats and yoga classes. Keep in mind that, as it’s considered a holy city, alcohol and non-vegetarian food is forbidden.
Outside of Rishikesh, the rest of colourful, crazy and chaotic India awaits. In the cities, take an empty suitcase for all the shopping you’ll want to do too. You can buy beautifully tailored cotton clothing made to fit and delivered to your hotel in just a few hours.
Top tip: The Taj Mahal is India’s most iconic Instagram photo, but the buildings surrounding the Taj Mahal complex are also beautiful and far less crowded, creating opportunities for some unique images.
Hit the beach
Thailand is incredibly popular with travellers of almost all nationalities. Thai people are renowned for their friendliness, kindness and inclusivity. For South Africans, in particular, it represents good value for money with a favourable currency – and it’s visa-free. Koh Samui is a favourite, with its Insta-perfect lush mountains, turquoise waters, bustling market, delicious Thai food and sandy beaches. Base yourself in Chaweng Beach for the best mix of nightlife, restaurants and shopping. Enjoy a street food tour, visit Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan by speedboat or board a longtail boat and explore mangrove forests and traditional fishing villages.
Travellers can also follow the call of the ocean to the Maldives and stay in a dreamy over-water villa. Centara Ras Fushi Resort and Spa is a blissful, adults-only resort, ideal for honeymoons and romantic getaways.
If you’re stuck with decision fatigue
Can’t decide where to visit next? Take your pick from these great all-rounder destinations that offer a mix of different experiences.
Cape Town is the mother of all lekker local trips. Kick-start your day at a coffee shop, brunch at a trendy market (the Oranjezicht City Farm market is a favourite in the CBD) or head out to the more than 500 wineries and toast the Cape’s favourite fruit. Or, splurge on a sundowner at the Silo Hotel’s rooftop bar (booking is essential).
Further afield, Bali is another great all-rounder, ticking all the boxes for wellness, culture, adventures and the beach. There is also some great shopping. Purchase the round rattan Bali bag that is on every. single. Influencer’s Instagram feed. Think Instagram-perfect cafés (hello, rand-friendly smoothie bowls and smashed avo), markets and scooters.
“Do your research to ensure you get the real-life experience that matches with your Instagram expectations,” says Divan Viljoen, Marketing Campaign Manager at Youth and Adventure, a division of the Flight Centre Travel Group.
“Canggu has black sand volcanic beaches and is popular with surfers, although they’re not the best beaches for suntanning,” he adds. “Uluwatu has golden sand beaches, also famous for surfing. There are a few to choose from, but not all are recommended for swimming. To come close to the Eat Pray, Love experience, stay outside of Ubud’s city centre, which has become very touristy. Base yourself on the outskirts of the city and, from there, you can easily explore the temples, waterfalls and rice paddies,” Viljoen recommends.
What to do – 3 Insta-travel tips
Get up early – To snap those iconic Instagram photos, get up early to beat the crowds (all trying to do the same thing!) and take advantage of the post-dawn light.
Bring a mini tripod – If you’re selfie obsessed or travelling solo, take along a lightweight tripod.
Birds of a feather – Whether travelling with your other half, best friend or solo, be patient and prepared. For groups, make sure to agree on the itinerary and manage expectations. Setting up a stokvel group savings fund can be an excellent way to save, and everyone pays their part. Check out Flight Centre Stokvel for safe saving options and exclusive deals and advice, which can be especially valuable for first-time travellers.
What not to do
Don’t be an obnoxious traveller. Respect your surroundings and local communities and embrace the new culture. After all, you left home to discover the unknown. Leave no trace on the place you’re visiting and remember to put your phone away every now and again. You don’t want the only memories from your trip to be something you viewed through your phone’s camera or your Insta filter of choice.