Data, Travel

What Travelers Are Saying About Your State

What Travelers Are Saying About Your State


If it isn’t on Instagram, did you even go somewhere? For most people, posting and hashtagging photos is an integral part of traveling. We want other people to know about our experiences and to share in our wanderlust. So when it comes to posting on the ’gram, travelers have a lot to say about Uncle Sam’s backyard.

At Busbud, we decided to see just what people were saying while traveling in the U.S. We gathered almost 2 million Instagram posts that used #vacation and/or #holiday and then calculated the relative frequency of specific phrases used in connection with each state. In the end, these results were compared with the nation as a whole.

Curious to know what vacationers are saying about your state? Keep reading.



Got state pride? When it comes to your home state, a few choice words probably come to mind. But are travelers on the same page? To see just what vacationers have to say on Instagram, we looked at the most common phrases for each state that were used much more often than the national average. (Note: Sizing of phrases does not correlate with commonality.)

It’s one of the most iconic states in the country, and tourists had a lot to say about New York – more specifically, New York City. With 56.5 million visitors in 2014, it’s no wonder that Gossip Girl, Central Park, and the Financial District were hot topics in the Big Apple.

It’s also not surprising that California – the land of sunshine and celebrities – would be on visitors’ minds. Posts like Beach CA, California Dreaming, Hollywood Hills, and the Pacific Coast Highway appeared quite frequently.

Interestingly, tourists found Kansas somewhat humorous, as LOL was a popular post. And even though people were visiting Kentucky, they often talked about Cincinnati, Ohio – likely because the Cincy airport is located there.

Most notably, though, was Mississippi. While vacationing usually induces positive feelings and a reduction of stress, some tourists may have felt quite the opposite in the Magnolia State. For some reason, I’m Sad was commonly posted.



If you’re looking for a good party during your off time, Delaware is the place to be. With over 2,000 percent more posts containing partying-related words, the First State knows craft beer. Dogfish Head is one of its largest and most recognizable craft breweries, and its Wine and Beer Festival was a winner of the “Top 100 Events” by the American Bus Association in 2014.


pit stop at #dogfishhead for some snacks and brews #craftbeer #vacation #brewpub

A photo posted by mchirschhorn (@mchirschhorn) on


Nevada, at nearly 270 percent, is home to Las Vegas, so it’s no wonder that visitors associate it with a good time. This desert metropolis provides all forms of entertainment, including casinos, vibrant nightclubs, fine dining, and intoxicating shows.

In Louisiana (142.9 percent), Mardi Gras dominates the scene, and field parties in Connecticut (121.1 percent) are all the rage. Into moonshine? It has deep roots in West Virginia (81.6 percent).



Traveling, in general, can be fun, but going to one of these five states might offer whole new levels of entertainment. Idaho, at the top of the list, has 87 percent more Instagram posts related to fun. After you’ve packed your winter clothes, visit the Sun Valley Resort and ski your way down the Bald and Dollar Mountains. Or go below ground and walk through the Shoshone Indian Ice Caves, a massive sea of jagged lava rock.



Looking for something a little hotter? Attend the Fiesta de Santa Fe in New Mexico (55.7 percent) and burn away your anxiety. Without a doubt, people are posting about Mount Rushmore when it comes to South Dakota (36.3 percent). And New York (32.8 percent) wouldn’t be New York if it weren’t for the bright lights and bustle of Times Square.

When it comes to Nevada (30.4 percent), Instagrammers don’t only associate it with partying; they also associate it with fun. Las Vegas is such an iconic city that it encompasses all aspects of vacationing.



Coming in at over 200 percent more Instagram posts related to food, Delaware has also managed to cultivate a unique food following. Travelers looking for a hometown favorite will want to try scrapple, a pork trimming loaf. In fact, the world’s largest scrapple manufacturer is located in Bridgeville.



The pork tenderloin sandwich is an Indiana (177.9 percent) staple. Kansas (nearly 156 percent) is known for its wheat and cattle, and Connecticut (119.1 percent) boasts an impressive selection of seafood dishes, including a traditional New England clam bake. Of course, travelers are talking about authentic Cajun cuisine when it comes to Louisiana (almost 113 percent).



Coming in at 69.6 percent, the proportion of happiness-related posts in West Virginia is five times higher than fifth-place California. It seems that vacationers just can’t get enough of it.


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! #cathedralcafe #fayetteville #westvirginia #holiday #christmas

A photo posted by O M A R (@omarabarragan) on


Looking for something a little unusual? Kansas is the perfect destination. Following closely with 64.1 percent, the world’s largest ball of twine is located in Cawker City, and the world’s tallest waterslide is in Kansas City. No joke – it’s taller than Niagara Falls. Adrenaline junkies are sure to be the happiest here.

And if you’re looking for more ways to get your joy on, visit Alabama (46.4 percent) and see its excellent space program, or Hawaii (27.4 percent) with its exquisite beaches, or even California (13.6 percent), where the stars shine day and night.



Partying and drinking tend to be synonymous, so it’s not surprising that Delaware tops the list again for drinking with 313.4 percent more Instagram posts. Besides Dogfish Head, Delaware is home to other craft breweries, including Iron Hill, Stewart’s, Fordham & Dominion, and 16 Mile.


@mispillion has my vacation starting off right. #beer #craftbeer #vacation #delaware

A photo posted by Doug Hart (@dhart722) on


Up for a challenge? If you are going to visit Wisconsin (220.8 percent), prepare yourself. The Badger State has been dubbed the heaviest-drinking state in the country. As for Michigan (170.8 percent), Bell’s Brewery’s Two Hearted Ale is ranked among the best IPAs in the world. Arkansas (about 128 percent) also features craft breweries, such as the Diamond Bear Brewing Company. And Vermont (112.7 percent) leads the way with the most craft breweries per capita in the U.S.



Need to be outside? The West and Midwest should have you covered. With 341.1 percent more Instagram posts, Utah can’t be beaten. With five national parks, five national forests, and 43 state parks, you’ll have countless hours of adventure. In need of some adrenaline? Soar down the Cossatot River aboard a whitewater river raft in Arkansas (322.4 percent) or climb the 1,011-foot Pinnacle Mountain.


Beauty is all around! #Utah #vacation #vacation2016 #makingmemories #devilscanyon #canyon #nature

A photo posted by My Milwaukee Mommy (@mymkemommy) on


Montana (316.7 percent) is also getting some love because travelers recognize its unique outdoor experiences. Visit the Glacier National Park at night and you might just see the northern lights. Or visit Beartooth Highway to see the Milky Way a little bit clearer.

Nature is good for the soul, so it’s no wonder West Virginia offers the perfect cleanse. Coming in at 192.7 percent more posts, the Mountain State is exploding with raw and natural beauty. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy more than 1 million acres of national forest lands, skyscraping mountaintops, and gushing rivers. Finally, Kansas (149.7 percent) boasts the incredible Ozark National Scenic Riverways.



Need to get away? Need some peace and quiet? Delaware has that too. Coming in with 107.3 percent more relaxation-related posts, enjoy a peaceful walk on the beach at sunrise or sunset in Cape Henlopen State Park or savor a refreshing meal by Lewes’ bayside. Following closely behind with 92 percent more relaxation-related posts is, of course, Hawaii. Take a hike through Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park or spend a few days at one of its many luxurious resorts. Time goes much slower in Hawaii.



If the Midwest is more of your style, Iowa (88.7 percent) offers magnificent glacial lakes, museums filled with rich history, and picturesque rolling hills. Put your head up in the clouds by climbing one of the many lighthouses in Maine (85 percent) or enjoy scrumptious lobster by the coast. Finally, become one with nature by touring the Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary in Nebraska (65.6 percent).



The great journey to the West was great for a reason. Many of the states in this region and the Midwest are held in high regard for natural beauty. Some would even call them wonders. With 123.2 percent more beauty-related posts, Kansas offers some awe-inspiring views, including its Monument Rocks and Cimarron National Grassland.


Kansas Sunset #wintersunset #lecompton #kansas #vacation #familytime #nofilter #beautiful

A photo posted by Elizabeth (@lizlove6455) on


Almost as popular is Virginia with 119.3 percent more posts. Its Natural Bridge has been referred to as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the Modern World, and its Luray Caverns is the largest cavern in Eastern America. Instagrammers are also really fond of New Mexico (88.4 percent), which is home to White Sands, a 275-square-mile desert of glistening gypsum sand. Vacationers also have eyes for Arkansas (62.0 percent) and North Dakota (46.7 percent).



Coming in with over 4,000 percent more exploration-related posts, South Dakota is home to the Badlands and some great exploration. There is a lot to see and do in this plains state, including hiking, fishing, horseback riding, and hunting.



Next on the list is Montana (3,169.4 percent) with its untouched beauty and Wyoming (1,669.4 percent), known for its cherished Yellowstone National Park. Utah (1,637.8 percent) and North Dakota (1,092.6 percent) also have a large following.


Need a vacation yourself but not sure where to go? From the looks of it, Delaware might be a good place to start. This New England haven seems to have it all when it comes to partying, food, and relaxation. And based on Instagram posts, the West and Midwest regions should be your next destination. Nothing says vacation like wide open spaces!

Social media can be a powerful influence, especially when it comes to traveling. So if you weren’t convinced before to explore different U.S. destinations, you should be now. No matter what you are into, every state has something to offer. So put down your phone and experience it yourself.

Want to see what this country has to offer but need to stick to a budget? Busbud has you covered. Partnering with hundreds of bus companies, Busbud offers affordable tickets to anywhere you can possibly think of.

We gathered 4 million Instagram posts with #vacation and/or #holiday and then included only the geotagged posts, which resulted in nearly 2 million total posts. We then cross-referenced an extensive list of cities paired with geographical coordinates and found the nearest city to each of the geotagged posts. With that data, we then segmented the cities by state and ran a text analysis on the captions of the Instagram posts.

We determined the frequency of commonly used words and phrases but excluded extremely common single words (for instance, articles such as “the”) and nonsensical phrases. We then calculated the percentage occurrence of those words and phrases in posts across the United States as well as within each state. We calculated the percentage variance between the percentage occurrence in each state and the benchmark percentage occurrence across the nation. This final calculation revealed the frequency of each phrase’s use in each state compared with the nation as a whole.



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