Is Instagram Changing the Way You Travel?

Is Instagram Changing the Way You Travel?

I peered through my binoculars from our Jeep, which had
stopped alongside others on a dirt track in Yala National Park in
Sri Lanka, I managed to catch
sight of a leopard’s tail that dangled down from the branch it was
lying on. This was the third time that day we had been lucky enough
to spot the elusive creature but it was no less magical.

Not so, it would seem, for the American man in the Jeep next to
us who loudly proclaimed that he had seen them on a documentary so
didn’t need to look.

We were baffled…was that not why we were there, to see the
wildlife with our own eyes? Is seeing it through a screen enough
now? I have seen plenty of exotic destinations and animals in
photos and videos but that means, if anything, I am even more eager
to see for myself now.

Instagram is my go-to for inspiration – it helps us to discover
the world as others travel it and enables us to decide for
ourselves where we would like to visit next.

I’m not alone, this photo-sharing app has more than one billion
users worldwide, uploading around 95 million photos everyday.

The most followed travel brand, National Geographic, has 100
million followers on Instagram and, in its own words, allows you to
experience the world through the eyes of its photographers.

There’s no denying that we are keen to both share and scroll
through images – especially ones that depict far-flung

In fact, according to Facebook for Business, 60% of millennials
turn to Instagram for travel inspiration. Meanwhile, a study by
Schofields Insurance found that 40% choose to travel to places
based on its “Instagrammability”.

But the latter is part of a growing problem. We are seeing the
same “Insta-worthy” locations appear in our feeds time and time
again. As more people head to get their own shot of these
destinations they become overrun with tourists, not only having
negative implications for the environment, but ensuring that it
isn’t as tranquil and idyllic as these carefully curated feeds
would have you believe. Step outside of that little square and
you’ll no doubt find a queue of people waiting to get their own
photo to share on social media in a bid for likes.

Travel blogger Vicky, from Vicky Flip Flop, agrees that social
media is changing the way we travel. She said: “There are the
classic insta-shots – the hot-air balloons of Cappadocia, the
colourful riads of Morocco, the impressive mountains of Norway, for
example. Tourism in these locations is booming, just so people can
“get the shot”. There’s even a fake breakfast spread set up in
Cappadocia, so you can look like you’re having breakfast with the
balloons behind. There’s apparently a long queue of people waiting
to pose by the impressive “food”.

The twirling dress, hat in hand, in front of a landmark look
just doesn’t appeal to me, and I hope it will soon have its day. I
feel like it’s been done now and we need something new: travellers
who actually care about the places they’re visiting and

“Like a lot of travel bloggers I have a love/hate relationship
with Instagram, but I continue to use it every day and even more so
when I travel. It’s a great tool for finding amazing spots, and for
inspiring others to travel more, but I think in the wrong hands and
minds it can be toxic.

“I just think you need to be careful with who you follow,
whether you can believe their stories and advice, and how their
pictures make you feel. Use that follow button carefully and

Seeing an image and flying off to recreate it ourselves is also
causing us to lose the true essence of travel – discovering places
with our own eyes instead of seeing every part of it through
others. We can instantly conjure up images of the Taj Mahal and the
sea swing in Bali, for example, even if we haven’t been. But does
this take away from that incredible moment when you see it for

Blogger Flora McCormick thinks so: “Social media is great for
inspiration, or seeing parts of the world we’re otherwise not able
to see for ourselves due to money, physical ability, safety, etc.
But there’s something sad about realising there are very few
corners of the planet you’ll ever truly see for the first time.
We’ve all “seen” killer whales or the Northern Lights online, which
makes you wonder – how much of its impact is lessened for us
compared to earlier generations?”

Aspiring to travel to places simply because they will fit our
feed or we have seen them on another’s means we will miss out on
discovering so many other wonderful corners of the world. However,
when used correctly, it is one of the best ways to introduce us to
new places. Watching stories, looking through photos and reading
the description of the destination will ensure you can make the
most of your time when you go.

When Broadway Travel predicted the travel trends for 2019 it
found that two of this year’s destinations are popular because they
will be on the big screen. Head of marketing Tom Davies said:
“Set-jetting – travelling to part of a country that you have seen
in a film or on television – is going to be on trend this year
especially with the release of the final series of Game of Thrones
in April when even more holidaymakers will flock to the
destinations seen on screen such as Dubrovnik in Croatia. We think
this is a great way to show people parts of countries they may not
have considered. In the same way, Instagram is ideal for sharing
travel images and experiences, and giving an even better insight
into what it is like to actually be there, inspiring others to
visit for themselves.”

Perhaps we just need to head away from the overdone staple shots
because there is so much more to discover and then think about
travelling in a more ethical way and using platforms to promote
this. We need to make the most of our time on earth by seeing as
much of it as possible and, as we do so, helping it to remain a
place of natural beauty rather than adding to the problem. This
needs to be done with our own eyes, not vicariously through a
stranger’s photos and videos – or around getting likes on social

Travel the world and take photos but don’t just do it for the
‘gram – do it to make memories and preserve them. So, in years to
come, when Instagram is spoken about in the same way as Myspace is
now, you’ll be able to look back on the pictures fondly. They will
have captured your experience rather than being a reminder of what
you missed out on because you were so desperate to take the perfect

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