Truth be told, I tend to hate lists but readers seem to love them. The reason I hate them is because it requires me (or one) to choose. As a parent, if someone asked you if you had a favorite child, it's like asking whether you have more love for one or the other, not necessarily who you align with the most. As a traveler, when someone asks you what your favorite country is, dang....it's hard, at least it is for me. I have my least favorites but even in the gloom of some treacherous experiences I had in China when the doors first opened up to westerners so many moons ago, when our room was broken into in Naples or when we were scammed in India, there were insightful outcomes from all of these incidents. And, as all travelers know, one isn't like the other and as easy as it is to stereotype (and I do at times based on a myriad of similar experiences in one place), one STILL isn't like the other. It's important for us to be open and to constantly yearn to learn, for it is in that openness that magic happens, on the road...or not.
Above is a shot I posted on my feed towards the end of 2016 which we took near my home along the northern California coast. There's a little distortion from it when I blew it up to nearly 2,000 pixels, but I love how I felt that day and so here it is. Taken on my iPhone 6.
I curate this list with trepidation because there were so many feeds that inspired me this past year and 2016 marked a shift for me with Instagram; I became more addicted to the platform and therefore more engaged. As time consuming as it is, I have begun to think about Instagrammers I have met through my travel world and my foodie one through my food Instagram account @LuxuryFoodies, and their lives on a regular basis. This is building community at its essence, at least in an online world. Unlike other platforms, I learn more about their inner worlds and perspective on life -- it's the combination of carefully thought out language, creative descriptors and powerful photography that even long form blog posts like this one can't capture. Note that I didn't select these because they necessarily have the best photos but because I "felt" something powerful through their posts over time, which included their engagement with me and with others. Taking the time to inspire AND be inspired by others is hard and time consuming and deserves applause.
Photo credit: @dotzsoh, taken of Singapore, where she says in her description: Never let a little stumble be the end of your journey! (Hear Hear)
As a nature lover, there's no doubt that I have had more photography aha moments from folks like @earth.pro (198K followers), @jacob (443K followers), @nature.geography (1.4m followers), @tree_magic (111K followers), @earthpix (10.3m followers), @destinationfervor (389K followers) and one of the earliest feeds I discovered @dotzsoh (@742K followers) whose tagline is: Live the Life you Love and Love the Life you Live.There's plenty others who have truly inspired and touched me this year (and where I felt 'understood' because they resonated with what I wrote or posted), so this Top 12 List could easily be 100 if I had more time. There's a rawness and authenticity to those on this list however and I love that aspect of their feeds. Note: I have listed them alphabetically to keep things simple.
Amrita and Rich are Canadian-based and it shows through their authenticity. They share their own shots but occasionally of friends they meet on the road; I love the sharing and pro-community piece of this, which is a gift to us as followers of their feed. Their account is genuine and raw and weaves in questions for us to ponder with real-live shots of both their urban and natural experiences. Their tagline: they want to help inspire the traveler inside everyone.
She's more of a new discovery for me. Danielle Ashley calls herself a photographer first, not a traveler and while she doesn't have a lot of posts yet, I love the dreaminess and colors she chooses in her editing process. There's plenty of beach shots and sunsets, something that calms my mind in the flurry of stressful moments when I'm not on the road. Her tagline: This is the incredible world we live in. She hopes that her photography will inspire others to travel.
Esther makes me laugh -- she provides insights, asks questions and makes us think. Based in Portland Oregon, her tagline has her moving to a new city every year, which will undoubtedly give her a very unique perspective on the U.S. and the world around her. Bravo!
Sarah and Kris call themselves JetSettingFools, so there's a bit of humor in their perspective and feed, which I love. Their tagline: One Life, One World -- we want to experience it, not just exist in it. How can you not love that mantra and way of looking at the world? Experiential travel (and I'd argue life), is what truly transforms us.
Janie and Scott are independent travelers based in San Francisco and yet we still haven't met. No tagline, but all photos are theirs and I find them everywhere -- in other words, they seem to really take the time to engage with their community with words that go a little deeper than I often have time for, even though I almost always feel more moved than perhaps the words "Fabulous shot" invoke. I should create a glossary of what's going on in my head when I say fabulous versus nice versus awesome versus wow moment versus incredible versus you had me at hello. Who doesn't want to feel seen and heard? They make you feel that way by adding more texture to their shares on a regular basis.
I love nature and dreamy skies and it shows in my posts, so it should be no surprise that I connect to photos that bring color to life in unique and creative ways or simply happy and joyous ones. This feed is more realistic in that its not full of pinks and oranges that I often gravitate to in nature or cloud porn that makes me reflect. Colors do pop in this feed however which I love -- it's hard to believe that I have shot so many black and white shots in my life given how much I connect to dreamy colors in my life today. Their tagline? There are on foreign lands, it's the traveler who is foreign. I love this and it's so spot on.
Traci shares a lot of street and urban shots as well as nature, posting her own and occasionally highlighting others on her feed. She seems to be present; it's what I feel through her feed although we've never met. Her tagline? Dance me to the end of love -- Leonard Cohen. I so so LOVE this! Let's go on a hike together someday Traci.
Could I be biased because they're kiwis and I absolutely fell in love with the authenticity and generosity I experienced in New Zealand? Who knows, but I do love the energy of Terry and Maura's feed. How brave is this? They sold their home to travel. I do feel like I'm browsing through a photo album of sorts but it just works and they draw me in for reasons I can't explain. Perhaps it reminds me of my first world trip or perhaps its their genuineness that just shines through again and again.
Anthea seems like someone I could travel with and well, she's from South Africa, one of my top countries, so we'd likely share a lot of "favorite spots." Remember I lived there twice and my ex-hubby is South African. Now based in Heidelberg, also a gem destination for photography, her tagline is: Photographer, Traveler, Dreamer and Light Chaser. Simple but beautiful, right? Light is so critical to all that we capture, whether it shows up in reality in our photography or remains just in our mind's eye.
I discovered this traveling couple a little more recently. Their tagline is: Travelers. Adventurers. Storytellers. AND, they want to prove that you are never too old to explore. Often, I hear people who say they're too old for adventure travel or to change the way they travel or even live their life. You're never too old for a new perspective or a new routine in your life and let's face it, life truly begins just outside your comfort zone. I love that they seem to be big believers and advocates of this viewpoint and are living their dream with new remarkable views each and every day.
Lori seems like she'd be a blast to travel with -- she covers food, culture and experiential travel around the world according to her tagline and this is reflected in the photos she shares. I think food is such a big part of my travels and always used to incorporate food shots into my @weblogtheworld feed and only separated it out over to @LuxuryFoodies in 2016, but I applaud people who can weave both into their feed and make it work. She shares a bit more culture than nature, but she does a great job at both. Two thumbs up! I'd love to explore a village or two with her one day.
Michaela posts a lot of photos from Asia, especially dreamy sunsets, whether that be traditional beach ones or those from a magical experience like a balloon ride. Words that she uses to define her? Cultural, Stylish and Luxury. Bucharest based, her tagline says she loves Asia, sunsets and sunrises and rooftops. I resonated with rooftops since my grandfather was a roofer and I spent most of my childhood looking at the world from the top of them.....and, I'd argue that it has changed my life. One of these days, I have a feeling our paths will cross.