Finding Travel Stories on Snapchat

Iowa State Fair on Snapchat

Iowa State Fair on Snapchat in August 2015 (good Story but needed more about the famous Butter Cow)

I wouldn’t yet include it in my list of favorite travel apps, but the see-it-once-and-you’re-done photo/video app Snapchat is an intriguing development in the world of digital travel communications.

If you think Snapchat is just disappearing boob shots between teenagers, it may be time to reconsider.

I’m still pretty incompetent at sending snaps myself – my brain thinks in text rather than visuals – but I follow some accounts that are really clever, like LACMA (the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.)

What draws me to the app every day, though, are the Snapchat Live Stories.

What are Snapchat Stories?

In contrast to disappearing snaps sent between people that are gone after you tap and see them once, Stories are put together by Snapchat’s editors, they are available for 24 hours, and they can be viewed over and over. You never know what’s coming up, which is how they get you to check the app frequently.

They are a mashup video of people’s snaps taken in various locations and at events. The number in the upper right circle is a countdown of seconds remaining in the video. You can tap your screen to skip sections.

Snapchat screenshot from the Guadalajara Story

Snapchat screenshot from the Guadalajara Story

Stories are raw representations by the people who are there, and they give the viewer a sense of immediacy, immersion, and personality that I haven’t seen with other apps.

Having a bowl of gumbo on the Mississippi in New Orleans Snapchat Story Aug 2015

Having a bowl of gumbo on the Mississippi in New Orleans Snapchat Story Aug 2015


Where in the World is a Snapchat Story?

I’ve watched everything from the opening night of University of Kentucky basketball to the Iowa State Fair to surfing events in Australia to bagpipe championships in Glasgow, Scotland.

Team Sri Dasmesh Pipe Band at the Bagpipe World Championships Glasgow on Snapchat

Snapchat screenshot of Team Sri Dasmesh Pipe Band members who were competing in the Bagpipe World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland

Featured places with Stories have included Cairo, New Orleans, Kenya, Madrid, and Perth, Australia.

In the New Orleans one I saw paid content for the first time – a couple of sections of the video included musicians who live in New Orleans, sponsored by Apple Music. It didn’t ruin the experience with marketing, although those clips were a professionally-produced, artsy black and white as opposed to the less-polished clips from regular people.

Screenshot from LACMA's Tumblr of one of their funny Snapchat posts

Screenshot from LACMA’s Tumblr of one of their funny Snapchat posts

There is also a Discover section with snaps from brands like ESPN, the Food Network, and National Geographic, but I never seem to check them as often as I do the daily Stories.

Snaps in Your Town

I woke up to a story this morning in my local Statesman news media about people in Austin making Snapchat geofiltered graphic overlays for snaps taken around town. Other people can use this artwork on their own snaps, once the design and geofilter are approved by Snapchat.

Go here to learn about making Snapchat overlays in your town.

Even if you aren’t ready to do much on Snapchat yourself, download the app to check out the daily Stories for a dose of you-are-there travel experiences.

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