Instagram is changing travel, and we all know it. But let’s be honest — it isn’t always for the better. We’re all guilty of ‘travelling for the ‘gram’ every now and then, so how about we take a step back and take a better look at the situation?
Disclaimer: This isn’t meant to call anyone out, or pass judgment on anyone. Consider this food for thought, from one Instagram-crazed traveller to another.
1. We stop living in the moment
Sure, we have amazing photos to commemorate our visits to the most picturesque places. But those aside, do we have any actual memories to remember our trips by? Or were we too busy taking photos of (and having our photos taken with) the most Instagram-worthy spots?
Instagram is changing travel. We’ve stopped living in the moment; instead, we live on the ‘gram.
2. We can’t move on until we get the perfect shot
When I was a kid, I hated smiling for photos — so much that I’d want to run away every time I saw my mom reaching for her camera. But Instagram is changing travel, and I’ve changed along with it. I’m pretty sure my past self would be laughing (or cringing) at me if she saw me now!
These days, I spend way more time getting my photo taken than I ever thought I would, to the point that I can’t move on to the next spot on my itinerary until I achieve the perfect shot. And I’m sure I’m not the only one!
But let’s be real — it really is a mood killer, especially for the one taking your photos. Once, in the middle of posing for my nth take on one of my trips, I was hit by a realisation: Are our posed, meticulously directed photographs really the way we want our trips to be remembered? Do they actually say anything about our experience?
3. We feel the need to look good just for the photos
A lot of us are so fixated on updating our social media grids, we feel the need to look Instagram-ready every moment of the day. And this holds true even more when we’re travelling!
We spend on new outfits, just because we’ve already been photographed in the ones we already have (and truth be told, we’ve come to believe that outfit repeating on the ‘gram is a crime). In addition, we overpack, and even lug around an extra outfit just so our Instagram feed will have a little more variety. Even worse, we starve ourselves before (and while) hitting the beach — we can’t have our followers seeing us look less than perfect!
I’m sure many of us are guilty of these things. Remember the days we packed just enough outfits (including several that we planned to rotate)? Or the days we didn’t have to stress ourselves out about how we looked before going on our next trips? Ah, the good old days!
4. ‘Pics or it didn’t happen’ has become the motto we live by
We’ve heard it all before: ‘Pics or it didn’t happen’! We become pressured to validate our travels or to earn bragging rights by posting photos and Instagram stories whenever we visit a new place. (Especially when it’s Instagram-famous!) We see our friends, peers, celebrities, and ‘social media influencers’ at the coolest spots — and it almost automatically feels like a requirement to visit them.
5. We pretend to have fun just for the ‘gram
Sometimes, a trip turns out not to be as fun as we thought it would be. But hey, our followers know we’re on vacation — so we might as well please our audiences by serving them great content, right?
Do you ever have those kinds of moments? When you’re constantly finding something worthy of being posted on your Instagram just so others won’t know just how underwhelming your trip actually was?
6. We do risky things just to get a cool photo
We’ve all heard those stories about people who’ve put themselves in dangerous positions for the sake of getting cool, double-tap worthy photos for Instagram — even to the point of losing their lives. From sneaking a few snaps where they’re off-limits, to disturbing animals in their natural habitats, to striking a pose at the very edge of a cliff, people have become obsessed with bagging the most impressive photos.
But is it worth it when it reaches a point that our own lives are at stake? Like I said — Instagram is changing travel, and it isn’t all good.
Of course, we can’t deny that Instagram has become a big part of our lives. It’s certainly changed the way we travel — it’s even led us to discover some of the world’s beautiful places. But when we’re no longer being our authentic selves, it might be time to take a step back.