TikTok Travel Guides: The new way to plan a vacation

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VIDEOS FROM Gen Zers and Millennials — and their cats — may satiate TikTok, but spend enough time scrolling through the social media app and you’ll find that it takes you to more surprising areas. Take the Journey Feeds, which offer a stream of fresh footage shot almost anywhere in the world. Type #travel in the search box and you can see cascading waterfalls in Iceland, moose stroll through Wyoming, experience sunsets in South Tyrol or seek out hungry turtles in Zanzibar. Many of the videos are silly vacation snippets, but in the last few years, TikToker has matured a bit. Now some are keen to show off their hometowns, allowing travelers to delve deeper into destinations and get a personal perspective on a place. While some of these TikTok travel guides are just for inspiration when planning a trip, others offer real-life tours as well. Here we present five of the most entertaining ones.

Sherman “Dilla” Thomas describes himself as Chicago’s favorite neighborhood historian.


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Sherman “Dilla” Thomas

Deep dish on Chicago

In Chicago, Sherman “Dilla” Thomas, 40, focuses his TikTok videos on the city’s African-American history and explores issues such as redlining, segregation and gang culture. Mr. Thomas, who calls himself Chicago’s favorite historian, also delves into street names, local architecture, notable figures and the history of deep-dish pizza. Mr. Thomas, a ComEd area owner and voracious reader, joined TikTok in November 2020 hoping to find an outlet for his obsession with local history. “I just need to get the stories out of me, I guess,” he said. Last year, Mr. Thomas began offering occasional personal tours, guiding visitors through historic neighborhoods like Pullman and Bronzeville. His 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 stationed during World War I.

Enocha Edenfield leads walking tours of Savannah’s haunted sights.


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Drawn hunt

Creepy Savannah

Enocha Edenfield, a freelance writer and social media manager based in Savannah, Georgia, also joined TikTok in 2020 and soon began offering virtual ghost tours. “People down here aren’t afraid to share their ghost stories,” said Ms. Edenfield, 40, who backs her tours of supposedly haunted cemeteries and homes with historical facts. “Once again, the truth is far more tragic than fiction,” reads one of Ms. Edenfield’s posts about a home she says was built on the site of an ancient burial ground for free and enslaved African Americans. She attributes the city’s penchant for spooky stories to its bloody history, which has been marked by Revolutionary Wars and civil wars as well as slavery, the yellow fever epidemic and hurricanes. Ms Edenfield started a hiking company in October, offering private two-hour tours six nights a week.

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


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AmandaSimon

Ranch life in the Rockies

Sonya Dodginghorse, 44, is another newcomer to TikTok and opened her ranch in the Canadian Rockies near Calgary to visitors last June. Ms. Dodginghorse, a member of the Tsuut’ina Nation, began posting TikTok videos to promote the ranch’s equine therapy programs. The videos provide insight into Native American ranch life, with footage of local rodeos, daily horse care and scenic horseback rides. In April Ms Dodinghourse plans to offer overnight stays for visitors.

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


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Jacob Knowles

Look at the lobster

Off the coast of Maine, near Bar Harbor, Jacob Knowles shoots his TikTok videos aboard his lobster fishing boat. Mr Knowles, 28, said he and his crew started fooling around on TikTok during the pandemic. Now posting almost daily, he delves deep into lobster anatomy and behavior, touts the importance of sustainable fishing practices, and showcases his most “puny” catches, including the Fanged Wolffish. Mr. Knowles, a fifth-generation professional fisherman, doesn’t offer personal tours, but he’s generous with insider tips about the area that go well beyond where to find a good lobster sandwich.

“Paris from the rooftops is a calm and relaxing Paris,” says parkour practitioner Simon Nogueira.


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Simon Nogueira

A Parisian high flyer

In Paris, Simon Nogueira also rarely offers personal tours, which few visitors will mind. Mr. Nogueira, 28, practices parkour, or freewheeling, to jump over rooftops. Through the video camera strapped to his body, he affords viewers a rare and stereotype-defying bird’s-eye view of the bustling city. As he put it, “Paris from the rooftops is a calm and restful Paris.” Mr. Nogueira is part of the collective French Freerun Family, providing private indoor and outdoor lessons for all ages and levels. Wouldn’t you like to do a backflip off a rooftop to enjoy the skyline? Mr. Nogueira recommends more conventional places to see the city from above, including the top floor of the Galeries Lafayette, the Sacre Coeur Basilica and, of course, the Eiffel Tower.

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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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