Instagram Stories: Kelly Lack's Global Travel Diary

Call it a case of there and back again. One travel writer explores the world—and inspires wanderlust with every snap

Travel writer Kelly Lack surveys the scene near her home in San Francisco. 
Travel writer Kelly Lack surveys the scene near her home in San Francisco. 

When Kelly Lack says, "I've been everywhere, man," you know she means it. The peripatetic writer—whose work has appeared in Martha Stewart Weddings, Travel + Leisure, and AFAR—and content and community lead at the new crowd-sourced travel start-up Spot captures envy-inducing scenes in some of the world's most spectacular locales, all from the tiny lens on her standard-issue iPhone. Whether a dreamy secluded chapel in the Icelandic wilds or the perfect sunset in her native California, Lack's snaps have the soul of a wandering spirit, the sunny disposition of a classic West Coaster, and the exacting point of view of a woman who knows what makes a good story. Here, she opens up about her favorite destinations, her partners in crime, and the places that continue to inspire her. Join us for a trip there and back again. 

Kelly Lack's Global Travel Diary
Kelly Lack's Global Travel Diary

THE BEGINNING

“I wasn’t a super-early adopter [of Instagram]—I signed up a little over two years ago. When I finally did, it was because it seemed like hearing about it from friends had reached a fever pitch. I thought the real-time peek into someone’s life—and the cool places they were going—sounded intriguing. (I for sure have voyeuristic tendencies—but who doesn’t?) I’ve also always taken a ridiculous number photos when traveling, so it was kind of an 'I think I can do that' moment. 

It seemed weird to open an account and only have like one random photo on it, so I started out by uploading about 20 I’d taken on a recent trip to Palm Springs for a wedding. I didn’t have any followers yet, so it wasn’t like I was flooding people’s feeds like crazy. Back then I was way into borders, iffy lighting situations, and heavy filtering!” 

THE PROCESS

“During the week, I shoot a lot in the morning and evening on my walk to and from the BART station: abstract mash-ups of color and pattern; rows of pretty SF houses; flowers in trees backed by the sky, crawling up fences and against colorful walls; and so many rad vintage cars I started #wheelsandwalls to corral them all. On weekends, my husband and I hike a lot because our dog, Levon, gets crazy-antsy if he doesn’t get outside, so I take a lot of coastal shots: sea meeting sky, dramatic cliffsides, beaches where the wet sand looks almost black.”

Instagram Stories: Kelly Lack

THE PLACES

“When I’m traveling, I go nuts trying to capture it all from sweeping scenic shots to quiet moments in markets to the comings and goings of locals. Our last big trips have been to Peru, Colombia, and Iceland, so I kind of just want to lose a week drinking beers on the beach somewhere. But Iceland takes it. We rented a car and took two weeks (not long enough!) to drive the Ring Road, which circumnavigates the island. It’s this mind-boggling mix of folksy, endearing moments—peat-covered cabins, baby lambs, thick-cabled sweaters, cups of steaming coffee—encapsulated in the most insane landscape, with 100-foot cliffs dropping down to black-sand beaches, hot springs in otherworldly colors, calving glaciers, so many waterfalls you almost stop caring, and the fiercest weather. The whole country is like a poem.”

Instagram Stories: Kelly Lack

THE POINT

“I love an adventure; I get bored when standing still. I also love how [traveling] smashes the pre-conceived notions you have about the world, even when you don’t realize you have them! We’re all human, trying to get by and struggling with and finding joy in the same things—only in different settings. When I lived in Buenos Aires, we’d bussed down to Patagonia and were crossing the Strait of Magellan by auto ferry. You learn about the Strait of Magellan in school, and it seems so far away it might as well be the end of the Earth. Like it’s so out there it’s not even real. And I remember looking at one of the deckhands and thinking, This is his everyday reality. This is his home. Nothing about this feels like the end of the Earth to him ever. And after his workday is over, he’s probably heading home to his wife and kids, just like my dad. When traveling, you get smacked with those amazing—yet ridiculously simple—realizations over and over.”

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