Traveling: Despite or Because of Instagram?

The perfect sunrise in a dreamlike national park. No people around and complete silence, despite the sounds of the river and wild animals. At least, this is what you might anticipate when looking at one of many photos like this on Instagram.

What this photo does not show is the crowd of people behind the camera – all desperately waiting to take the perfect picture.

Today, Instagram is one of the most popular social media apps around the globe. People not only use it to post selfies or their lunches, but they also use it for their travel inspiration. You can follow millions of travel bloggers, photographers, or even official tourism offices.

You can quickly be overwhelmed with all these places you can discover with a single hashtag. However, there is a massive misconception in why and how people travel to places all around the world.

I experienced similar situations – as I described before – myself. And to be honest, I discovered many of my previous travel locations on Instagram or Google Maps. What I realized during my earlier travels are two key points which I want to talk about:
1. People are traveling with wrong motifs
2. Travel photos on Instagram (most likely) don’t portray the reality – at least not the truth.

The Perfect Life

Instagram is providing people an environment where they can showcase their life. Many people use it to fake a perfect life. Instagram becomes an inspiration, where people pick the most exciting locations to copy this experience. However, it does not stop by merely traveling the same regions. Because many people travel because of wrong motifs, traveling fades into the background. People don’t enjoy the moment anymore. What people look for in foreign countries are the perfect shots. The most exciting photos to impress the world.
The problem is that those who primarily travel to take photos tend to blend out the negatives intentionally. Besides, they are incredibly frustrated when the location they are visiting does not turn out to be as great as in the photo.

Losing Touch With Reality

There are millions of travel photos on Instagram. The problem is they don’t necessarily portray the reality. Professional photographers shot many of the most amazing pictures on Instagram. These professionals wait for the perfect time to make the perfect shot. Which means that they are planning at which sunlight conditions they shoot the photo, and well they have the time to wait for the ideal weather. Besides, most pictures are professionally edited – keyword Photoshop – before they are posted on Instagram.
While it is the job of a professional photographer to use his equipment to make great shots, the average visitor cannot reconstruct these perfect shots. When photographers use expensive cameras, drones, or even helicopters to capture the landscape, they are portraying the nature in an angle unaccessible to most people.
Instagram-inspired tourists are more often than not disappointed when they don’t see the perfect picture in reality. It might be that the photo was taken with a drone, or that the weather is dizzy. However, this disappointment is avoidable when people travel with real motifs.

I think that Instagram is a great tool to find some inspiration to plan the next travel experience. However, we must be aware that there is nothing like the perfect photo. I also think it is toxic to travel solely to show off on Instagram. By intentionally not posting on Instagram, traveling might become exploring again.

This photo by Rodrigo Soares might be a great example even though published on Unsplash.

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