TikTok Travel Guides: The New Way to Plan a Vacation

VIDEOS OF Gen Zers and millennials — and their chats — can saturate TikTok, but spend enough time scrolling through the social media app and you’ll find yourself led to more surprising areas. Take Travel Feeds, which offer a stream of new footage shot just about anywhere in the world. Type #trip into the search field and you can watch waterfalls gushing in Iceland, elk roaming in Wyoming, sunsets unfolding in South Tyrol or hungry turtles lying in wait in Zanzibar. Many of the videos are goofy holiday snippets, but over the past few years TikTokers have matured a bit. Now, some are eager to show off their hometown, allowing wheelchair travelers to dig deeper into destinations and get a personal perspective on a place. While some of these TikTok travel guides simply serve as inspiration for trip planning, others also offer actual tours. Here we highlight five of the most entertaining.

Sherman ‘Dilla’ Thomas calls himself Chicago’s favorite neighborhood historian.


Sherman “Dilla” Thomas

Deep dish on Chicago

In Chicago, Sherman “Dilla” Thomas, 40, centers his TikTok videos on the city’s African-American history, exploring topics like redlining, segregation and gang culture. Calling himself Chicago’s favorite neighborhood historian, Mr. Thomas also delves into street names, local architecture, notable figures and the history of deep pizza. A ComEd area operator and voracious reader, Mr. Thomas joined TikTok in November 2020, hoping to find an outlet for his obsession with local history. “I just have to get the stories out of me, I guess,” he said. Last year, Mr. Thomas began offering occasional in-person tours, guiding visitors through historic neighborhoods such as Pullman and Bronzeville. Its two-hour bus tours stop at places like the Pilgrim Baptist Church, considered by some to be the birthplace of gospel music, and the Eighth Regiment Armory, where black soldiers were based during World War I.

Enocha Edenfield organizes walking tours of Savannah’s haunted landmarks.


Drew Hunt

spooky savannah

Enocha Edenfield, a freelance writer and social media manager in Savannah, Georgia, also joined TikTok in 2020 and soon began offering virtual ghost tours. “People aren’t shy about their ghost stories here,” said Ms Edenfield, 40, who backs up her visits to cemeteries and allegedly haunted houses with historical facts. ‘Once again the truth is far more tragic than fiction,’ reads one of Ms Edenfield’s posts about a house she says was built on the site of a former cemetery for African Americans. free and enslaved. She attributes the city’s affinity for scary stories to its bloody history, marked by both Revolutionary and Civil War battles, as well as slavery, the yellow fever epidemic and hurricanes. Ms Edenfield launched a walking tour company in October offering two-hour private tours six evenings a week.

Sonya Dodginghorse (right) and her daughter Cayda work with horses at the Dodginghorse Ranch in the Tsuut’ina Nation near Calgary.


Amanda Simon

Ranch life in the Rockies

Another recent arrival on TikTok, Sonya Dodginghorse, 44, opened his ranch in the Canadian Rockies near Calgary to visitors last June. Ms. Dodginghorse, a member of the Tsuut’ina Nation, has started posting TikTok videos to help promote the ranch’s equine therapy programs. The videos capture glimpses of Native ranch life, with footage of local rodeos, daily horse care, and scenic horseback rides. In April, Ms Dodinghourse plans to start offering overnight stays to visitors.

Jacob Knowles, a fifth-generation commercial lobster fisherman in Maine, posts videos of his work on TikTok.


Jacob Knowles

Consider the lobster

Off Maine, near Bar Harbor, Jacob Knowles, shoots his TikTok videos aboard his lobster fishing boat. Mr Knowles, 28, said during the pandemic he and his team started having fun with TikTok. Now he posts almost daily, diving deep into lobster anatomy and behavior, extolling the importance of sustainable fishing practices and showing off his ‘grossest’ catches, including fanged wolffish. A fifth-generation commercial fisherman, Mr. Knowles doesn’t offer in-person tours, but he’s generous with insider tips about the area that go far beyond where to find a good lobster roll.

“Paris from the top of the roofs is a calm and relaxing Paris”, explains Simon Nogueira, parkour practitioner.


Simon Nogueira

A high-flying Parisian

In Paris, Simon Nogueira rarely offers in-person tours either, which will bother few visitors. Mr. Nogueira, 28, practices the sport of parkour, or free running, to jump on rooftops. He gives viewers a rare, stereotype-defying bird’s-eye view of the bustling city via the video camera he attaches to his body. As he said, “Paris from the top of the roofs is a calm and relaxing Paris”. Mr. Nogueira is part of the collective French family freerun, which provides private indoor and outdoor lessons for all ages and levels. Prefer not to do a backflip off a rooftop to admire the skyline? Mr. Nogueira recommends more conventional places to observe the city from above, including the top floor of Galeries Lafayette, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and, of course, the Eiffel Tower.


What’s your favorite travel TikToker? Join the conversation below.

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Appeared in the January 15, 2022 print edition as “A World Tour, One TikTok at a Time”.

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