Anywhere, say Las Vegas social media mavens behind ‘Wonderful Places’
“Oh, the places you’ll go!”
Dr. Seuss said it first. Isaac and Suzanne Bruch are certainly living it. As masterminds of Wonderful Places, one of the biggest travel social media accounts on the web, they’ve gone all over the world and back, taking their 15 million followers with them.
Created in 2012 by Suzanne, Wonderful Places began with a simple idea: post photos so magnificent anyone viewing them would want to immediately pack a suitcase and start traveling. Suzanne launched her baby on Facebook and then expanded to other platforms including Instagram.
“I’ve always been so passionate about travel and visiting beautiful places,” she said. “Back then in 2012, there weren’t as many travel sites as there are today and our audience grew quickly.”
These images of dream destinations became daily escapes for friends and growing numbers of followers who craved midday, mini-vicarious vacations.
“A lot of people work from 9 to 5 in an office,” Suzanne said. “I wanted to remind them, ‘Hey, there is a big, beautiful world out there. Go visit it when you can.”
Some of her favorite stops have included Bora Bora, Italy (“It’s just stunning there”) and the Swiss Alps. “Don’t get me wrong. I love being on a beach under the sun, but the Swiss Alps were so majestic. It’s amazing to look at that view,” she said.
Of course, there have been some rough moments. “The biggest problem is canceled flights,” said Isaac. “We spent a night in Beijing in a blizzard and had to fight our way to even get on the bus to the hotel. There must have been 1,000 people in line.”
“You have your moments when you think, ‘Oh my God, I’m just so tired and I just want to go home,’ ” Suzanne said. “But when you look back, it’s all worth it.”
Even when you’re in danger of losing some digits … it’s worth it.
“One night we were shooting the Northern Lights in Alaska,” she recalled. “It was minus 30 (degrees) outside, so you stood inside until the lights came out. Even that five seconds of taking your gloves off to shoot the picture meant your hands were literally freezing in place. It was so beautiful that you forgot that part of it and just stood there admiring nature.”
There have also been times when the accommodations have been a little odd. “This past winter in Germany, we were staying near a castle we wanted to shoot at sunrise. The only room left in town was billed as a bed and breakfast. It was really more like a hospital ward or prison. Our room was a box in a corner with a tiny window,” he said.
“It was still kind of romantic,” Suzanne said.
On that front, life is beautiful for the couple that just celebrated their 10th anniversary last December. “We were in the Maldives and I was sick,” Suzanne said. “At least, I was sick in a pretty location.”
Suzanne, who hails from Indonesia, met Isaac while he was working on an IT project in Philadelphia. “She was in town visiting her aunt. We met, went out and decided to get married pretty soon afterward.
Here we are 10 years later,” Isaac said.
They were living north of Chicago in Antioch, Illinois, when Wonderful Places began to take off.
“I stepped away from my job at a software company three years ago to help Suzanne with the business. It was a little scary to cut the umbilical cord because nothing is guaranteed.
If this wasn’t the time to do it, there would never be a time,” Isaac said.
“I begged him to spend more time with the business,” Suzanne said. “I had so many requests and even more now. I couldn’t handle it on my own. Plus, we wanted to go see all of these amazing places together.”
It wasn’t long before Wonderful Places was one of the top 500 Instagram accounts.
By 2015, they were getting sick of the Chicago winters. “It was after another winter with the polar vortex bearing down on Illinois where we looked at each other and knew we were ready to move,” Isaac said. “We said, ‘No more snow.’ ”
At the same time, Suzanne’s older sister was living in Chicago, but then her husband got a job offer in Henderson, Nevada.
“We visited and fell in love with Henderson,” Suzanne said. “We came home and said, ‘I kind of want to move there.’ Three weeks later, we were moving and I’ll never regret it.
“Henderson is a great place for us,” she said. “Having Las Vegas as a home base means there are so many places for us to shoot for the site. We can jump in the car and the next thing we know, we’re in Utah or California. A sunset in Henderson can also create a gorgeous moment and photograph.”
“We live up in Anthem and walk our dogs at sunset when everything is changing,” said Isaac.
“The colors go from orange to purple to pink blue or “pink to blue.” People ask us all the time, ‘Where is this place? It’s so gorgeous.’ ”
They are among the lucky ones who can make a living doing what they love, largely because they have such a large following.
“Now that we have 15 million followers, we do a lot of work with travel brands, advertising companies, tourism boards and other companies,” Isaac said.
They also lead photo tours and do social media consulting along with speaking engagements. A new app is coming soon.
Next up is a quick trip to the Pacific Northwest for tulip season and a short stay in Portland. Then it’s back to Henderson to say hi to the dogs and dog-sitter. A blink later, they’ll be on a jet to Amsterdam to shoot more tulips before spending a little bit of summer in northern Italy to lead a photo tour.
“We know we’re fortunate to travel for a living,” Isaac said. “What I love about it the most is visiting the places and meeting new people. You try local food and learn about how the local people live.”
“With the internet, you can also make friends from all over the world. The other day in Seattle, I met one of our Instagram friends for the first time, although we’ve been writing to each other on and off for six years,” said Suzanne. “It doesn’t take long for new people to become old friends.”