Jess Last and Charlie Wild, both 29 years old, have been together for almost 10 years. Last year they quit their jobs in advertising and set out to travel the world.
Using Instagram as their only guide, they decided to explore under-the-radar destinations through the lens of locals.
“The Instagram community is full of creative people wanting to meet other creatives and you can feed off each other,” Last told Business Insider.
Wild adds: “It’s essentially your shop window, or a mood board of your tastes and you can tell quite a lot about a person from their Instagram.”
Their route began in India, and then they travelled to Singapore, through Malaysia, Myanmar, and ended in South Africa.
As the couple landed in new cities they used Instagram for tips and hints on what to explore using the hashtags and geo-location settings. They found that every country they visited used the app differently. In India users open up their homes to fellow Instagrammars, while in Hong Kong users reserve certain information for the locals.
In the Himalayas they taught English to refugee monks. In Myanmar they met the tattooed women of a remote tribe. The custom began, according to legend, as a means for young women to repel an ancient King and avoid enslavement.
Overall, they met about 50 other Instagramers on their trip. While they didn’t have any “dodgy” experiences during the six-months they spent connecting with strangers, the “coolest and edgiest” experience they had was at a boxing club in Johannesburg.
The couple racked up 12,500 followers on The Travel Project account, and are keen to grow this further on their next stint to the Southern states of America. They funded the first six months with their own savings, but by the end of their trip (and once they’re follower base hit 10,000) they were being approached by tourism boards for sponsored content.
Scroll down for a sneak peek of their stunning trip, made possible through the use of the photo sharing app.
Prior to forming The Travel Project, the couple both worked at creative agencies in London. Last was an account director and Wild was head of social, but they grew tired of the same old routines.
… It began with a one-way ticket to India, where they spent two months. One of their favourite places was the ancient village of Hampi, in Karnataka, South India. “The only way I can describe it is as if you’re on a film set of The Flintstones,” says Last.”There are huge boulders everywhere, next to rice paddies, palm trees and amazing wildlife.”
“Lots of people tip you to go and see different ruins, which are amazing, but our favourite thing was when someone said go to the other side of the river, get a motorbike, and just drive.”
Instagram is huge in India, according to the duo. “It was probably the best place in the world we could have started,” says Wild.
The couple soon learned that Instagram users in India frequently open up their homes to fellow users that they have never met before.
Jess adds, “We would reach out to people with 100,000 plus followers (when we had hardly anything) and they’d invite us to meet up.”
One girl in Delhi invited the couple to go and stay with her family, “it really felt like we were living like a local.”