Lonely Planet launches an Instagram-like Trips app

Lonely Planet has a new app for travel enthusiasts. Called Trips, the app uses an Instagram-like design populated with beautiful images of far away places.

Much like Lonely Planet’s website, the idea behind Trips is to offer travelers an easy way to share their experiences and discover new areas of the world — this time on their smartphones.

However, Instagram already has a healthy amount of travel enthusiasts uploading photos of fantastic places for viewers to check out on a daily basis. National Geographic, a personal favorite, is one of the most popular on the platform, with a following of nearly 80 million. Lonely Planet, by comparison, has about 1.4 million followers on the platform.

Like Instagram, you can “heart,” share and follow profiles on Trips, as well. But Lonely Planet’s Daniel Houghton says the intention is not to compete with the social media giant, but to complement it.

Lonely Planet is an O.G. travel site and has its own loyal niche of travel enthusiasts. Perhaps an app focusing precisely on their passion will be well received.

Trips is Lonely Planet’s second app. The online destinations site launched its first app Guides last year, which provides “tips and advice from on-the-ground experts.” More than one million people have since downloaded Guides. Lonely Planet hopes Trips will be met with the same success.

So why not just roll Trips features into Guides and make one app? Houghton tells TechCrunch Guides is more of a tool, whereas Trips is geared for sharing content.

The app is pretty easy to use; just download, select profiles that suit your interest and scroll through the feed. From there you can pick from a number of the populated stories, many of which will come with maps, photos and some information on tours and things you might want to check out. I was personally checking out Rainbow Mountain in Peru posted about a day ago while scrolling through the app.

You also can hit the discover icon at the bottom of the app, to the right of the home icon, to search for categories like “Adventure” or “Wildlife and Nature.” From there it will lead you to a feed similar to the home feed but with certain trips in mind.

It’s pretty easy to publish your own trips, as well. Like Instagram, you just hit the plus-sign icon at the bottom of the screen. The app will require access to your phone camera and then you’ll be able to add your photos. The app will automatically populate a map of the area and allow you to add content and more info about your trip from there.

The one thing I would say Trips lacks is a search tool. It’s fine to scroll through the places the app provides in the feed, but it’s difficult to look up specific places you are thinking of visiting. If you are like me, you’ll want the ability to look up a place before planning your trip to see what others have to say about it and look at the photos they took.

For those interested in checking it out yourself, Trips is now available for free on iOS and will be available on Android later this year.