Picking the best social media travel influencer is tough for a whole variety of reasons. First, what makes up social influencers is often hard to grasp. You have to be part blogger, part photographer, part salesperson, and part adventurer. The world of Instagram travel influencers and bloggers is peppered with fashion models posing as bohemian vanlifers and everyday people posing as adventure-seeking fashion models. The lines are certainly blurred and, yes, something is being sold to you via sleek (often hidden) marketing.
Still, the power of social media (and Instagram in particular) can’t be dismissed. Millions are spent sending social media influencers and bloggers to the best hotels, trendiest restaurants, and most picturesque islands — all to entice you to do the same one day. And it works. Right now, influencers are pretty much powering the travel industry.
We all have our favorites among this insanely #Blessed, “my god, you do that for a living!” crew. Their feeds fill our heads with travel and foodie dreams, as we swipe and scroll on our smartphones. Thus inspired, we fritter away money until we too can post about #MaldiveMondays. Below, you’ll find some of our picks for the best travel bloggers and influencers on Instagram to follow. Some lean more heavily towards the outdoors or fashion, some lean towards fitness, others food, or photography, or… the list goes on.
Whatever your interests in travel may be, there’s a feed here for you.
CHELSEY LUGER — 13.5k Followers
Chelsey Luger combines fitness, health, sports, and travel through the lens of a young Native American woman fighting for a better world for her people. Luger’s feed is a deep look into a life devoted to staying healthy through diet and fitness, positive mental health, and spirituality around Indian Country.
Luger’s feed is a great place to see Native artists like Wakeah Jhane and fashion designers like B. Yellowtail highlighted, providing a glimpse into the Indigenous side of America that remains very elusive to most Americans. This makes Luger’s feed an essential follow to highlight Native American-focused travel and Native Americans through a positive and renewing lens that’s helping fight stereotypes while also fighting to help Natives live better, healthier lives.
ONEIKA RAYMOND — 63k Followers
Oneika Raymond is traveling the world and asking the tough questions. Let’s face it, the world of international travel is lacking in people of color and that’s just not good enough for her. She’s striking out on her own path and bringing a new voice to the travel conversation.
Raymond’s feed is a bright trip around the world, with a distinctly fresh eye on travel. Raymond’s travel photos are positive endorsements of the places she visits — with plenty of local flare and people. Seriously, this feed will brighten up your daily scrolling with photos of some of the most beautiful corners of the world.
GIARO GIARRANTANA — 422k Followers
Giaro Giarrantana feels like he’s cheating a bit. Yes, he’s an actual fashion model that should immediately be cast as Chris Cornell in a biopic. That doesn’t change the fact that his Instagram feed is dope AF.
Giarrantana’s feed is what the platform was made for when it comes to marketing — beautiful people living beautifully. We can’t help but want to smoke the cigarettes in bed in fancy hotels, eat on far-flung beaches, and live the life of a rockstar when we put Giarrantana in our feeds.
Yes, it’s a fantasy. But that’s the point. We all need a little fantasy in our lives.
DANI CHASE — 14k Followers
Dani Chase works as a photographer out of Los Angeles. Her Insta feed projects a deft beauty and wisdom that’s 100-percent worth following along. Chase’s travels and photography are a balance of introspection and vivid scenes of intimate life around the world. You truly feel like you’re there with her in every shot. That’s huge in this world.
Overall, Chase isn’t trying to upsell you on postcard perfection in every shot. She finds the beauty in the foggy, misty days that happen in the real world. The feed has a nice balance of Chase experiencing the good life as well as Chase turning her lens on the world and people around her. It’s crisp, deep, and refreshing.
ELONA KARAFIN — 54k Followers
Elona Karafin is a cancer survivor in her mid-twenties who found herself with a growing internet audience when she started a travel blog. This turned out to be a blessing, as it allowed her to do a lot more traveling and gave her a platform for her charity: Checkmate Cancer. When it comes to her feed, it’s all gorgeous shots of Elona and female friends in various exotic locales, so it satiates travel, style, and photography fans.
Karafin’s feed will make you anxious to take a trip and the fact that she advocates for mini-breaks and weekend jaunts makes that a genuine option. You can thank her when you are snapping up a $69 ticket to Iceland for a three-day weekend.
GREG CAYEA -– 3k Followers
Greg Cayea doesn’t have a lot of followers on his Instagram account, which makes him a hidden treasure. He is currently the Guinness world record holder for the longest road trip and he just returned from a largely unplanned trip across South America. He knows travel. He is also brash and totally open, and that means his travel photos come with big long, oversharing tales of things like skinny dipping with random women from Canada and Belgium.
As a writer published places like Playboy and Elle, it’s clear Cayea can spin a yarn, and his Instagram is just another vehicle for his amazing travel writing, as well as his drawings. Seriously, we love him and get giddy every time he posts.
KARL WATSON — 8k Followers
Following along Karl Watson’s adventures is always a delight. Watson’s big gig is his Youtube channel where he hosts a very informative, fun, and enticing travel show, Karl Watson: Travel Documentaries. Each episode is a deep dive into a location that’s sure to light a fire under anyone thinking of hitting the road.
Watson’s Instagram feed serves as a great teaser for upcoming episodes of his show, as Watson trots around the globe. HE takes serious travel and makes it fun and, more importantly, accessible. He’s less about showing you how cool he is — although we all know he’s pretty f*cking cool — and more about showing you that you, too, can travel this big world of ours and see all these wonderful sites for yourself.
MEGAN MURPHY — 30k Followers
Megan Murphy leans more heavily towards food and that’s A-Okay as far as we’re concerned. Her gig is literally traveling the world eating amazing food — probably the dream job of about 99 percent of people out there.
Murphy’s Instagram feed delivers on the combination of the two great pillars of lifestyle content: Travel and food. We all want to enjoy new flavors when we travel and Murphy’s feed offers a glimpse into where to find the best.
LAUREN BULLEN — 2mil Followers
Lauren Bullen, or Gypsea Lust, is a powerhouse of social media. Her feed is the highwater mark of what you can achieve in the world of travel and Instagram. Bullen has set the algorithm so many have attempted to replicate for Insta-fame and success: runway ready body + high-quality photographer + postcard-perfect locales.
Bullen’s feed is the siren on the rocks calling Odysseus and his crew. It’s a fantasy for sure. But it’s a fantasy we all want to get lost in.
BELEN HOSTALET — 710k Followers
Hailing from Barcelona, Belen Hostalet hits that aforementioned Instagram algorithm perfectly. Hostalet is a model who gets to travel the most beautiful corners of the world and sell us on the beauty and grace of travel.
Hostalet’s feed offers the usual list of bucket list locations folded in with a surprisingly awesome food angle everywhere she goes. There are the usual staged fashion-model shots around the world, sure. But Hostalet also manages to fold those in with a more natural and comfortable feel. You get a sense that you could be hanging out at the same cafe, noshing on pizza right alongside her — which makes the whole thing feel highly accesible.
KIERSTEN RICH — 505k Followers
The Blonde Abroad, Kiersten Rich, runs one of the most popular travel feeds on Instagram. She travels far and wide while highlighting an array of the most classic travel destinations and experiences around the world.
Rich uses her platform to promote and champion solo travel for women, along with providing tips for practical travel advice. Rich’s feed and brand is a complete package of legit travel advice, tips, and promotions that are essential in a 21st-century world.
AUBRIE LYNN BELL — 217k Followers
Bell created an entire travel lifestyle brand, Globetrotting Ginger Travel, around her fiery red hair. Now, she travels the hippest destinations around the world and offers a glimpse into the higher end of travel.
Reducing Bell’s brand to just the color of her hair would be a mistake. Bell promotes solo female travel all over the world through empowerment and inspiration. Her feed is about opening up to the world and exploring every corner.
HOPE LANE — 13k Followers
If we got to design the ideal friend from scratch, chances are she would be pretty freaking close to Hope Lane — the Volcom art department employee who spends her weekends in a bikini hiking to the top of waterfalls and then leaping off of them with friends. Lane’s feed is all about the free time she spends with her crew Excursion Always, getting sick air over some of the world’s most beautiful water.
For sure, expect a lot of shots of Lane in her swimsuit or hiking clothes staring across beautiful vistas, but the real excitement comes with the sick videos of people flying off of cliffs and doing acrobatics mid-air before slicing neatly into the surface of a lake or ocean. Freestyle cliff diving is an extreme sport that is being legitimized more every day and Lane is marching at the front of that parade.
BRIAN CASON — 75k Followers
Brian Cason has a keen eye that presents the world the way it feels. While a lot of his work focuses on New York, there’s plenty of engaging photography from around the world to make Cason a “must follow.”
Cason’s feed is the perfect balance of city, country, food, bucket list locales, and the people who inhabit those spaces. Like all influencers, there are some products peppered throughout the feed. But they’re obviously integrated so you never feel like Cason’s tricking you into buying anything — which is a huge win.
SAM EVANS — 202k Followers
Sam Evans lives the life that most of us only dream of living. Evans is a photographer who treats the whole world as his muse.
Evans goes and lives his dreams then entices us with his Instagram feed to do the same. He’s able to see the beauty in the world and his goal is to share that beauty with a positivity that you can’t deny. If you get jealous of Evans’ feed, then you’re missing the point.
His point is to not be jealous. It’s an invitation to go and live grand adventures yourself.
CHRISTINE TRAN — 219k Followers
Christine Tran, or Tour de Lust, projects a real positivity in every post and it’s infectious. Tran’s travels far and wide and captures a world of luxury in idyllic settings. The bit that makes Tour de Lust stand out is the fun spirit and positivity Tran exudes in each post. It’s less about modeling in beautiful locations and more about just having fun while there. That’s so refreshing in the world of uber-serious Instagram modeling and influencing.
Overall, Tran’s feed offers a glimpse into the fancy and beautiful side of travel with plenty of amazing food, plush hotels, and wanderlust-y locales.
ALYSSA RAMOS — 198k Followers
Alyssa Ramos is living the dream as a travel influencer crisscrossing the globe while enticing us to do the same. Ramos’ feed is a whirlwind tour of the world from the finest spas in Europe to the far reaches of the Antarctic. Ramos doesn’t just lounge on beaches, she climbs mountains, hikes trails, and dives into the adventure waiting just outside those resort gates.
Ramos’ feed is a must to inspire your daydreams of travel. After a while, you’re going to want to start turning those daydreams into real experiences out there on the open road.
BROCK + CHRIS (YUMMERTIME) — 137k Followers
Brock and Chris of Yummertime run one of the dopest influencer feeds on Instagram. They’re models, sure. They’re also traveling the world, eating great food, and having a blast along the way.
All the fun and sun come with a very important and positive message for the LGBTQ+ community around the world. Brock and Chris take the time to highlight local communities and support those communities in countries where freedoms are still at risk. That’s hugely important work, layered into one of the best food and travel feeds out there.
BRUIN ALEXANDER — 115k Followers
Bruin Alexander lives an adventure-centered life up in the wilds of Canada. And that’s what makes his feed stand out. Canada serves as the perfect backdrop for Alexander’s expert photography. His pals serve as the subjects as they explore the backcountry, back roads, and hidden gems of the wilderness.
Alexander’s feed will make you fall in love with nature, hiking, skiing, and exploring the wilder side of the world. Hell, you may even fall in love with camping in the process.
HALEY PLOTKIN — 119k Followers
Haley Plotkin of Ready Set Jet Set offers a post-millennial look at the world of food and travel. The beautiful shots of cityscapes, perfect food presentations, and all the beaches are there. But there’s something about Plotkin’s feed that feels like the next generation of travel. It’s fresh and familiar at the same time.
Following Plotkin’s travels on Instagram is inspiring for sure. What makes the feed stand out is how accessible the experiences feel. Nothing Plotkin’s showing us of the world feels out of reach. It’s all there for the taking.
RICHARD TILNEY-BASSETT — 2k Followers
Richard Tilney-Bassett of The Glass Passport Project travels the world by bartering for transport, accommodations, and meals. Though he only purchased his first camera in 2014, he has advanced skills, which people are more than down to trade for a spot in their guest room or a plane ticket (or both). And people who follow his Instagram get the joy of the images he takes. They also get to see his trades and read about them.
Following Tilney-Basset is interesting because you get taken along on this grand adventure. It’s Around the World in 80 Days for the millennial set, and we could not be more excited to turn each page. Who wouldn’t wanna see Phileas Fogg learn to surf in Australia (trade 97) or eat Satay on the streets of Singapore (trade 88)?
ERIN ROSE BELAIR — 14k Followers
You may recognize Erin Rose Belair because she writes for Uproxx. Her recent article about being a “clean water courier” was an insightful read, so her nuanced Instagram feed is no surprise. Followers are treated to moody, interesting shots of Belair that look like they came out of a Nylon spread or gallery show, and they alternate with short poems from the writer.
Followers of this account get access to a travel POV that few people can offer. It’s the cerebral, artistic approach, rather than the cute couple or 21st century Indiana Jones (both of which archetypes we heart). Sometimes, you want to see the world in a way that is entirely unexpected. This is the feed for that.
CAPTAIN LIZ CLARK — 103k Followers
Captain Liz Clark is an inspiration. Straight up. Bottom line. She has been sailing the world solo in Swell, her 1966 Cal-40. She was a national champion surfer in college. And, she is committed to the environment, relentless positivity, and loving kindness. You want to see great shots of various ports and ocean views? Done? You want them accompanied by inspiring writing? Double your pleasure.
Clark recently published a book about her travels with Patagonia Books, so much of her recent feed is related to that process, which is really interesting. But, peppered in between are also a lot of surfing and sailing shots. It’s a classic for the wanderlusting would-be pirate.*
*We were really sad to see that Clark’s feline traveling companion and frequent photo subject Tropicat passed recently. The account won’t be quite the same without her.
CHELSEA GILLIGAN — 60k Followers
Chelsea Gilligan works as a model and actress by day and travels the world by night. It’s hard for a lot of people to disassociate the fact that social media influencers tend to be models selling us on travel, hotels, food, and so forth. Gilligan doesn’t hide that she’s a model who travels the world for work and life. And that’s refreshing honesty.
Gilligan’s feed leans towards fashion through travel. Expect cool locations and great clothes more than food stops and hotel endorsements. Still, when she lands in a foreign place, Gilligan makes a great tour guide that’ll get you following your travel dreams.
DAVID DURAN — 55k Followers
David Duran is pure fun to follow on Instagram. As a seasoned travel writer, Duran’s take on the travel and food world is always fresh and insightful. Plus, he gets to go places some of us only dream of going.
Duran’s feed folds in great shots of him off on adventures with plenty of delicious food and some of the best hotels in the world. Some of it may be inaccessible when it comes to price, but all of it piques our desire to hit the open road.
CHELSEA YAMASE — 552k Followers
Chelsea Yamase, or ChelseaKauai, has an Instagram page that hits a lot of sweet spots: Adventure, surfing, hiking, Hawaii, the sea, nature, and so much more. Living among the beauty that is Hawaii, Yamase has created an Instagram feed that is the gold standard of adventure travel, sports travel, and nature travel. Her diving, surfing, climbing, and camping posts are some of the best around full stop (having go to photographer Travis Burke in the pocket is a big help).
Yamase’s feed is a must have. At the very least, the photos will entice you to get your ass to Hawaii as soon as possible and finally learn to surf. And that’s a win all around.
Karl Shakur — 135k Followers
Karl ‘Shakur’ Ndieli leans heavily into the photography side of the influence-game (too bad, he’s a handsome dude and a few pics of him wouldn’t go amiss). We’ve included him because his shots are dream-y and vibe-y and those emotions definitely make us want to travel.
Whether he’s adding fairy lights to tree houses, or building a fascinating depth-of-field into his adventure shots, Shakur has a unique eye that will definitely leave you itching to hit the road.
Emily Hart — 6k Followers
As far as we are concerned, one part math teacher and one part solo adventurer is the ideal recipe for a well-rounded bad ass, which is totally what Emily Hart is. We check out her Instagram on the regular to catch her well-composed shots of national parks (she has hit 36 in the US and five in Canada). And we love her captions, which often explore her life as a traveler and a teacher from a deeply philosophical standpoint that’s at once meaningful and inspiring.
Emily is a solid choice for a follow on Instagram, especially if visiting public lands is on your list of things to start doing or continue doing. If you’re someone who digs on travel and adventure but feels weird doing it alone, Hart will be the inspiration that you need to explore solo.
Marlina Moreno — 13k Followers
Well-rounded people make for the most interesting travelers. For instance, Marlina Moreno’s pedigree as an award-winning conservationist filmmaker makes her someone we want to know more about. But, the fact that she has both an MBA and a master’s in conservation-focused biology, as well as a dance background that includes working with the NFL means she has a perspective we’ve never encountered before, and we are so there for it — especially all the beautiful portraits of African wildlife she’s been posting lately.
People who follow Mar Gone Wild on Instagram will see a lot of great animal pics, but there are also stills of Moreno in her environment and a lot of really slick videos that will make you want to explore the African bush or sail along the continent’s shores.
Annette Richmond — 3k Followers
Annette Richmond is a writer, fashion stylist, and digital nomad. But, the travel community worships her primarily for being the creator and driving force behind the Instagram account and private Facebook group Fat Girls Traveling. Richmond created a much-needed space for plus-sized women in the travel sphere to connect with others and normalize their desire to adventure in a world that isn’t always welcoming. As a large woman living abroad, Richmond can speak directly to the community in ways that are valuable and exciting.
If you opt to follow Fat Girls Traveling, you will be treated to exceptional travel photos with big women as the primary subject. It’s bomb for body positivity. If you go for the OG experience and opt to follow Richmond herself, you get to watch her travel the world and get links to stories she has published on her blog. It’s nice to get the narrative that undergirds her photos.
Ciara — 28k Followers
Ciara, of the feed @Hey_Ciara, likes to keep her last name on the low. That’s fine, because her travels and approach to adventure are so inconic that she’s a natural fit with other one-name creative folks like Madonna, Bey, and Prince.
Sound like we’re gassing her up? Well, what can we say? We’re fans. Ciara’s feed has a fantastic visual flow and her captions add insight to her posts. For those who get hooked and begin checking Ciara’s blog, you’ll find expert advice, travel philosophy, and more fantastic photos.