Dreaming up your next vacay? Skip the travel guides and turn instead to that timeless source of inspiration – your social media feeds.
Scrolling through Instagram and TikTok has become the new way Gen Z and similarly minded travellers research and discover destinations to add to their travel bucket list. In just seconds, you can visually position yourself across the globe.
Before you’ve even set foot in the airport, social media serves up endless wanderlust fuel, from glittering metropolises in the desert to ‘soft hiking’ and how to prep for your trip.
But what exactly are the hottest travel trends and destinations being showcased on most feeds right now? We break down 2023’s most picture-perfect vacations going viral on the ‘gram and TikTok. But be street-smart – even on your phone.
Trend influenced travel
#RomanEmpire: Natural wonders aside, what about travel experiences that offer a touch of whimsy? TikTok is serving up plenty of inspiration in this department in 2023. One of the biggest trends involves men embracing their inner Russell Crowe in Gladiator through the viral #RomanEmpire hashtag.
It all started when one TikToker asked how often men think about the glory days of this ancient civilisation. The responses came pouring in, with people eagerly detailing their frequent daydreams of Roman conquests, culture, and gladiator glory. Searches for ‘Roman Empire’ even hit a 10-year high on Google.
While reliving the days of Caesar may not be on your travel bucket list, you can still visit historic Roman ruins and sites across Europe, from the Colosseum to Hadrian’s Wall.
#SoftHiking: If you prefer a more leisurely vacation, check out #SoftHiking, another trending TikTok topic with 2.2 million views. This relaxing take on outdoor adventures involves gently exploring nature without pushing too many physical limits. This is a perfect trend for those who find intense hiking intimidating but still want to enjoy wandering through gorgeous landscapes – and getting the snaps to prove it.
#VacationPrep: And don’t forget the latest TikTok travel prep craze: pre-vacation beauty routines, from Botox to Brazilian waxes. Travellers are sharing their full holiday glow-up checklists to look flawless for all those dreamy vacay photos. Apparently, with enough injectables and laser treatments, you too can stage bikini-ready photos straight out of the next Sports Illustrated issue!
The most hashtag-ed destinations on TikTok
Analysing travel hashtag data reveals exactly which hotspots are racking up the most video mentions so far this year.
Taking the top spot is Dubai, with the destination pulling in a whopping 140.4 billion views. All those over-the-top luxury hotels and glittering skyscrapers set against desert vistas clearly translate well to the short video format.
New York City comes next with 101.8 billion views for #NYC. From iconic landmarks to fabulous food and nightlife, the city that never sleeps delivers endless trending content.
In third place is #London at 72.8 billion views, followed by #Paris at 68 billion. It seems classic European capitals never go out of style on social media.
Completing the top 10 are sunny hits like #Miami, #LosAngeles, and #Bali, plus European favourites #Istanbul, #Madrid and perhaps surprisingly, #Chicago. So, whether you’re looking for desert glamour or big-city energy, TikTok users have already scouted the hottest destinations to round off your 2023 or inspire your 2024 #vacation.
Snapshots from Trending Experiences
First up, what are the trendiest natural wonders lighting up Instagram? The travel and luggage experts at Bounce analysed view counts for some of the most iconic landscapes. Taking the crown for the most posts is the magnificent Grand Canyon, with over 4.2 million snaps dedicated to the gorgeous gorge carved out by the Colorado River.
Coming in second place is our very own Table Mountain, which ranks as the world’s #2 most Instagrammed natural wonder, with 1.2 million stunning shots. The Mother City’s iconic treasure is clearly social media gold.
Rounding out the top three is Vietnam’s breathtaking Halong Bay, boasting over 1.1 million posts.