2020 was the year of closed borders, grounded aircraft, and endless days working from home. Traveling and exploring new places was off the table. What was on the table, however, was TikTok.

Like many during that time, TikTok was my escape. My FYP (For You Page) was a positive space filled with loveable animals, hilarious skits, and great travel content.

In early 2020, when I was oblivious to the troubles to come our way, I had created a vision board where I had pinned photos of my bucket-list destination: Greece. That whole year, I dreamed of the day I’d be able to dive into the country’s clear blue waters and explore the labyrinth streets of Santorini. By 2021, after spending countless hours on the app, TikTok’s top-notch algorithm was inundating me with content about the Aegean Islands. One of the videos I obsessed about, “Top Beaches in Milos” (an island I had never heard of), included a familiar-looking beach, Fyropotamos. Lo and behold, that exact picturesque setting was on my 2020 vision board. I took it as a sign. I was going to go to Greece, and TikTok would help me plan my vacation.

@annitakatee vision board to reality 🤍#manifestation works ✨ #greece #travel #milos #visionboards ♬ original sound – Taylor Swift

TikTok, lead the way to vacation perfection

The beautiful thing about the travel content on TikTok is that it’s made of stunning snippets that leave you wanting more, pushing you to go see the places featured in the videos with your own eyes.

Travel content is one of the most popular video categories on the app, with #travel being viewed over 67.6 billion times at the time of writing. But even with the huge amount of content and over one billion active monthly users worldwide, I never found a video of someone using TikTok to plan their vacation.

So, I decided to give it a go. And to make sure that letting TikTok plan my vacation was not a total disaster, I created a four-step process:

1. Research by hashtags

I started by searching for specific hashtags. By using relevant tags such as #santorini #toursantorini #thingstodoinsantorini, I was able to find activities, accommodation, great places to eat, and narrow down appropriate content. For example, when I searched #santorini, many videos featured cruising around the island. Inspired by this TikTok video, I booked a sunset cruise and it was one of the most magical experiences of my life.

2. Save every video

If there’s anything at all that I liked, even if it was clearly out of my budget, I still saved it and worried about the finer details later.

3. Categorize your favorite picks

I started by choosing four categories that would encompass what I was looking for:

  • Accommodation
  • Activities/Entertainment
  • Transportation
  • Food/Culture

From there, I broke each of them down into three categories:

  • Accessibility
  • Affordability
  • Aesthetics

After doing this, every saved video had a home and was filed accordingly.

Graphic of the method to use TikTok to help you plan your vacation

Photo: Annita Katee

As for the clips I knew featured places that were out of my budget, I thought about what it was that I liked about them and tried to find that element elsewhere. This process also made me rethink what I really wanted for my trip. For example, initially, I was determined to stay at a place that had an infinity pool. But when I thought about it, I realized that I was planning on spending very little time at my accommodation besides sleeping, so while aesthetically pleasing, it wasn’t worth the extra money.

@matadornetwork #Mykonos is a beautiful #GreekIsland known for its beaches and nightlife 🎥 @handluggageonly #greecetravel #traveltiktok #quickbooksvictorypose ♬ Chiquitita x Twilight – twibytez

4. Get booking

After I narrowed down my top contenders, it was time to schedule and book my trip.

Thanks to a Google Flights hack TikTok video, I had managed to book a $600 return flight to Athens, so I knew exactly where and when I was starting and ending my trip. I had also made the decision to limit my trip to four places: Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, and the vision board island that started it all, Milos. With a large blank piece of paper and a drawn-out calendar, I started filling in the potential activities and ideal resorts I had seen on TikTok, and the transport options between them.

Then it was time for the real nitty-gritty of actually booking. Some places that I loved had no availability, but because I had a long list of options saved on Tiktok, I was able to make at least one work.

Tried and tested: TikTok can help you plan a vacation

What I loved most about using this method was that TikTok’s travel content was a pretty fresh and authentic view of what to expect. I went all in trusting TikTok when booking and it worked beautifully.

@annitakatee Athens day 2 #athens #whattodoinarhens #greece #travel #vacation #acropolis #visitgreece ♬ Fly Away – Tones And I

That said, I may have been very lucky, so don’t skimp on a little Googling and review-reading before you book. For example, some research would have shown me that public transport was very basic on Greek islands and that buses only took cash on board, which I was not prepared for.

Letting TikTok plan my vacation was a successful strategy, and one that I’m ready to try again. I hope that my experience proves that TikTok can help plan your vacation, too.