Confessions of a travel blogger,  Sunday social travel talk

How instagram ruined travel for me …

… But only for a while so don’t worry, I have not given up on travel nor was my lust for travel ruined forever. It just has changed. Over the past week we have received a lot of questions about our Tasmania trip from people that we saw. Most of them said, from seeing our pics on Instagram and Facebook for example: “the weather wasn’t that awesome, was it?” and I even heard “you didn’t really post a lot this time, did you like it at all?”
 
A while ago, I realized that Instagram was not just great for sharing pics but also for researching upcoming trips, what certrain places look like, what pictures you want to make (instead of browsing through shops with postcards upon arrival) and basically what to expect when you get to a certain place. I used Instagram like that before going to Nepal as I was curious what the town of Gokyo and the Cho-La Pass would look like, for example. Nowadays with Instagram you can basically upload any destination to your images whereas until about a year ago you could only add a location when you had actually taken the picture there. So, the danger is that people upload images to wrong locations, however when researcing the forementioned locations it gave me quite a good idea of what to expect and what the current conditions were. Needless to say that for Tasmania I did the same. I started following some big Tassie minded Instagram accounts and each night before I went to bed I browsed a bit using the #discovertasmania hashtag for some inspiration, while thinking ‘only XX more sleeps until it’s my time!’
 
When I started using Instagram, there was nobody on it, just very few of my overseas friends who talked me into starting to use it. I made an account and started us it as @travelleranto during my Berlin trip. You could call me an Instagram pioneer, my account is alive for nearly 4 years soon, much longer than most blogger accounts are. I was amazed by the filters and the ability to turn a really shitty photo into something that looks awesome. As a blogger, I should probably have deleted all these old photos because the would not match the criteria that are asked from instagram pics nowadays. But they are there because at some point, I thought they were good enough to upload and there for I refuse to delete them. The @travelleranto account changed into @we12travel and soon enough I found out that you could also upload photos that you did not actually take with your phone. I started ‘latergramming’ like crazy and all of a sudden the community seemed to grow and all my friends started creating accounts and uploading their stuff. Friends who I didn’t even know if having great photography skills or just very good with filters and an app. I learned that many bloggers didn’t even use the Instagram app for improving their pics but instead used other apps such as VSCO or Snapseed in order to create the perfect picture.
 
And there you go … they create the perfect picture out of something that is probably not perfect. And that’s how Instagram started ruining travel for me, without me realizing it…
 
The first Instagram post I did from Down Under, said that ‘Hobart and I didn’t hit it off straight away’ and here’s why. Upon arrival in Hobart it turned out to be a dark and gloomy day. Even though the dark skies were spectacular as a background, that first picture I uploaded to Instagram never got a lot of likes and someone even said something like ‘wow, looks like Holland with that grey sky’… Yes well people, that’s what happens when all everybody seems to be doing these days is upload perfect pictures. Instagram is no longer “insta”, it became “later”. Later to wait for days to make the perfect shot, wait until the weather has cleared or wait until that kangaroo is finally right in front of your lens instead of 3 meters away from it. As I’m not a photographer, I don’t have the time to wait for the perfect picture and usually move onto the next spot pretty quickly. We do a lot of multi-day hikes and generally, our trek gives us minimal time for photography. If the sky isn’t blue, that is bound to give me less likes on Instagram, at least with an audience our size.
 
instagram
 
 
So – how did that ruin travel for me? As I said at the start of this blog, it’s not as dramatic as it sounds. However, Instagram tends to only show you (next to) perfect pictures which raises high expectations. Of course I know it rains everywhere in the world now and then and of course I know there is no such thing as a perfect world, nor a perfect picture. I just found myself disappointed with some places I saw during our trip, because it rained, because it was cloudy and because I just had other expectations about it. For example, the Bay of Fires is not nearly as fiery red when the sky is covered with a thick pack of grey clouds. The mountains of Cradle Mountain NP aren’t nearly as impressive as they look when the sun is shining. I could go on forever but you probably get the point.
 
Let me say that I totally owe it to myself that I was disappointed in a couple of places I saw because it’s just common sense to know that not everything is as beautiful as it is portrayed and you cannot expect to go to a destination such as Tasmania and have blue skies only. For a few days only I let this influence my mood. Each time I’d open up the curtains or the zipper of our tent, the first thing I did was look at the sky and take a deep sigh … “another cloudy day” … During my worst mood, I actually posted on my Facebook (in Dutch) ‘it would be nice to have some sunshine after it’s been raining 13 out of 15 days’. Posting something like this on my personal profile is so unlike me, I’m never this negative and hate people who complain on social media. However I still found myself doing it and seeing some comments from people coming in, I realized I had been a fool, letting the weather influence an amazing trip. So I decided to keep on posting pictures also of the weather not being perfect and I tried to think of other ways to capture the landscape without actually showing it was poor weather. And more important: leave behind my negative energy and instead become my own sunshine.
 
When I scroll through my business IG feed these days, I more and more realize that I’m getting tired of the perfect world we all want to create. How fake some pictures are, how people are imitating each other and there are less and less instagrams rather than latergrams. It’s fine, really, however it’s not my choice. I’ll keep running the @we12travel account the way you are expected to run it as a business but I’m not sure if I’ll be around much longer. Instead, I’ll go and enjoy the way Instagram used to be with my friends, posting silly pictures of things I do during the week, which probably wouldn’t receive any likes on the @we12travel account because they are not pretty enough… it’s a closed account but you’re happy to come and follow me there if, like me, you are tired of just seeing perfection on your feed.
 
I’m curious – do you agree with me? Or do you think I should just shut up?
 
On Sunday I generally talk about personal travel related things. Here’s some more reading material for you:
6 Things I stopped doing after 2 years as a travel blogger
Pooping while trekking: this is how it works!
How to travel 107 days a year with a full time office job
 
Thank you for sharing!

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Anto is a 30-something outdoor fan who travels the world about 100 days a year, combined with a full-time office job. She loves to go hiking, enjoys a good class of wine and can usually be found with an iPhone in her hand. Favorite destinations: New Zealand, Patagonia, Austria and Alaska.

39 Comments

  • Ellen

    #cloudporn is one of my favourite hashtags actually! 🙂 Cloudy days can be just as beautiful as a sunny day IMHO.

    I think anyone would get slightly annoyed after two weeks of mediocre weather on a holiday. Not just because it looks crap on social media, but because it’s just that little bit more enjoyable with a bit of sunshine.

  • Kimber - Reisgenie

    Totally agree! I barely check my IG timeline these days because it all feels so over the top and even a fake. I’ve been having a personal Instagram account since 4 years also but I stopped using it when I started with Reisgenie. Mabye it’s time to start using that one again ;).

    • anto

      Do it! Mine has been there for a month and I am happy that now I still see what my real life friends are up to. As they are less active, there’s only a few ones to scroll through on my feed rather than hundreds of pics each day from the big accounts.

  • Ted

    Totally agree with what your saying. I did hanoi and halong bay and it was miserable and overcast throughout. It put me down and made finding that great shot difficult but it’s more satisfying I think.

  • Angela

    YES! I really enjoyed this article. I have the same feeling and see a lot of the same pictures over and over again. I plan my trips because I want to do something and not for the photography. I know so many people that are only going places because they are insta-place famous! I’m getting over social media in general and need to keep my head up, but it’s hard. I really like your #liveauthenic idea of sharing what is actually going on. To imperfection!

    • anto

      Thanks Angela! It’s true, the big names all their each other’s pictures and that makes me kind of tired. I follow lots of outdoor minded accounts but in the end, all their pictures are the same, so I’ve started unfollowing them because they barely every come up with something new. Which is a shame because generally their pics are rad, just very uncreative. To imperfection girl 🙂

  • Melyssa

    I might not be the best person to comment on this, as I don’t follow that many accounts on IG, but then, that’s the point – I like to follow accounts that actually interest me, and many professional ones end up being boring, so I follow very few anymore. I tend to follow people I know, individuals who post random sights and things. I do appreciate a pretty, well-composed picture, sure, but when it’s just too sleek, it feels like a brochure and lacks authenticity. I do look up photos of my upcoming travel destinations, but somehow I seem to prefer the less-perfect, more spontaneous type. It’s interesting to read that a seasoned traveller/blogger such as you feels that way.

    • anto

      I loved you Cuba pics, they were awesome! I’m happy I opened up a second account these days so I can still spill some creativity in that one, too. I’ve loved Instagram ever since the beginning and still enjoy using it, most of the time!

  • Pieter Kuiper

    I totally agree. Keep on posting real pictures about real situations. I like to see how you two enjoy travalling in everyday situations. And I like to get adaquate information and inspiration for new travels with realistic expectations.
    Keep up the good work!

  • Denise - Follow my footprints

    I understand, but I DO use instagram to post my best pictures (only just sometimes something private), and I love seeing beautiful pictures of others and NOT the silly pictures. That’s why I’m using my private Facebook account for, for seeing ‘normal’ (and strange) things of normal people I know. But on instagram I do want to see beautiful pictures. The only thing I find important that pictures have been made by the person him/herself and NOT those pictures you’ve seen a hundred times.
    And even when it rains you can still make beautiful pictures!

    • anto

      Yeah same here, I always pick the best photo because it’s as simple as that, when I upload a not-so-great pic it nearly doesn’t get any likes. I hate people who share stock photos, that’s so unoriginal. Your pics of Scheveningen were gorgeous btw!

  • Fiona Maclean

    Perhaps I am just a little more sanguine. I never expect things to look as wonderful in real life – that way, when they are BETTER I am astonished and amazed and when they are not, I don’t feel disappointed.

    I still love instagram – I post a mix of ‘real time’ VSCO filtered and pictures that I’ve uploaded from my camera. Yes I want my best shots, but I don’t post things that are SO doctored they look unrealistic

    • anto

      That’s the way to go and the way I’ll keep on thinking on my upcoming trips. I’m definitely spending less time on IG than before the trip and let my mind wander instead of eyes fixed on my iPhone screen…

  • Trisha Velarmino - P.S. I'm On My Way

    Arrrgghhh, totally with you on this. Just stopped curating my Instagram as I’ve been flooded by the same travel pics on my news feed. Additionally, Facebook bought them and they already have the “boost” feature (paid). Apparently, not all our followers can see our photos anymore hence less likes for the # of followers that we have. Really enjoyed this article, Anto!

  • anna

    I get you!!! Sometimes as bloggers we have to tell our readers about the real side of traveling…we try to be honest about it as much as possible. Beneath the pretty pictures and awesome shots..there are long bus rides, travel illness, getting tired of moving around, and all that stuff.

  • Jackie

    I do use Instagram to post good photos, Anto, and I like having a wall that looks like my best. But, I have no preconceived notions about what best is. Sunny does not equal best. Whether it’s smart or not, I don’t do hashtag research before a trip. Maybe it’s a bit naive because there are already a ton of photos for every place imaginable out there. But, when I see a place in person, my photos reflect what my eyes see and what I captured. Besides, I also find that some of my “most liked” photos are the ones of the most iconic places like Big Ben in London that have been photographed to death. It’s more fun knowing I took the photos I wanted and not the ones I thought I should take to outdo another travel IG account.

    • anto

      Great suggestions Jackie. Indeed, my most liked photos are the icons for sure, not necessarily the best photos or the most original ones. I guess that’s just what people like to see.

  • Tess Andrade

    Yeah, I can see how particularly IG could be very deceptive – I personally have taken photos and ramped up the filter settings to make a location look out-of-this-world beautiful – but the reality was a different one. It was just another average sunset. But on IG it looked like THE sunset of a life-time haha! I’ve only ever used Pinterest or Trover to do trip planning. And probably will stick to these two apps. Or maybe use the new Tread app.

  • Curious Claire

    It’s true, we do focus on the ‘perfect’ picture too much. I feel myself getting upset when the weather ‘ruins’ my pictures. I don’t upload many pictures from my Oslo trip because of the grey sky. Maybe I should!
    Very interesting post. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • chrysoula

    I feel like cloudy days are a s beautiful as sunny days from a different perspective. I am not the best photographer but I try to capture the place as it is. something that I don’t like you may like and this is how it goes.

  • Dariece

    Okay, first off, my favourite line in your post is “leave behind my negative energy and instead become my own sunshine”!! YES YES YES!
    And I totally understand what you’re saying about the portrayal of perfection. It irks me too….and not just on IG, it’s basically every aspect of social media! Definitely gives up false expectations if we don’t realize what we’re looking at is someone’s best version of everything.
    Good for you for realizing that life might always look “perfect”, but it’s what you make it….what you take out of it.
    I appreciate real. Not perfection. So, cheers to being real!

  • Danielle Des

    Since there are so many ways to alter photos on Instagram I don’t count too much on it to show me how a destination will really be. I would have to agree – Insta can really hype things up.

  • Michelle W

    Just gave your we12travel account a follow. I”m annoyed with the perfection- but I’m also annoyed that if I post a photo of myself looking at scenery with my back in the photo and have a cute outfit, I get tons more “likes” than a high quality photographic composition. UGh

  • Active Planet

    As a self-proclaimed photographer, I can definitely say I only post the best of the best photos on my Instagram account. I certainly don’t let the weather contradict what I post though – it’s all a matter of point of view because, in my personal opinion, even on the ugliest of days a place can be extremely breathtaking depending on your point of view.

    Just know that travel bloggers like ourselves are of the lucky few who get to actually see places around the world way more frequently than the average person could ever do.

    I would also like to add that it depends on your purpose for posting on Instagram – if you like to keep it real, then keep it real but if you like to inspire, then inspire. Naturally, it doesn’t hurt to mix it up a little though! lol 😉

    • anto

      So true … not sure yet where my path is … I want to inspire people to get outside more, but I do want to keep it real. Great thing to give some more thought!

  • Anja

    I just came across this when reading about your big news and totally have to agree on that you wrote here. People, including me, want to create a perfect world and want to show this to everyone and not the not so nice things… I just learn to deal with imperfect things and that they are ok, too. Often I imagined places being like the overly filtered pictures shown online and had troubles liking what I saw in reality.

    • anto

      Yes … it’s been a while since I wrote this but honestly I still feel like this. However I’m learning myself to not want to capture everything anymore, but also to just enjoy the moment. Some things just don’t need to be shared …

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