#Thought-Piece: How Is Instagram Influencing Our Travel Decisions?

When I was in middle school, my English teacher divided us in groups and gave us the best assignment so far – to make a presentation about our dream travel destination. You see, even then, I was confident that I will travel the world. Even more, destinations like Paris, New York or Athens, didn’t interest me as much. I spent days searching for the most unique, dream-destination-worthy place. I wanted to find a place that was so beautiful, was unknown to most of my friends and almost dream-like unattainable. Jokes on me, the place that fit my criteria (before Instagram was a thing) was Bali.

Words: Aleksandra Medina

Bali has been on my travel bucket list for quite a few years now, but with each year, I feel less and less excited to go there. Why? Because I feel like I have been there already. Thanks to the efficiency of travel bloggers, I feel like I have seen every noteworthy place in Bali. If someone asked me to describe Bali, I’d have at least a pretty good idea of how to describe it to that one person in the world, who hasn’t been over flooded by stunning Instagram-model posts in Bali.

It’s quite remarkable how the social media has changed the way we travel. Instagram, travel blogs, Tumblr, Snapchat, you name it, have taken out most of the adrenaline rush while traveling. With the wandering gone, we know exactly what to expect. The worst part, because of photo editing apps so easily accessible, we get disappointed, when we see the raw, unenhanced, un-photoshopped waterfalls of Bali.

Don’t get me wrong – learning about new places and being more worldly is an amazing thing. And, of course, the photos are stunning, and I, myself, am guilty of following way too many of these accounts. No one is forcing me to do that, right? There is no harm done in looking at beautiful photos and being just a little bit jealous of those in them.

However, it turns into an issue, when we learn about the world through staged Instagram photos, that have been mercilessly edited to look breathtaking. Because we all know, when there is something truly stunning – a breathtaking night sky, a huge full moon, a magnificent flower – the picture seems to fail its true beauty.

It becomes an issue, when people start to travel to take pictures. With the sole purpose of taking great Instagram pictures, and then worrying about the right colour palette, the right caption and the right time of the day to post it. It becomes an issue, when people’s expectations are so unnaturally built up, that they feel let down, when their photo of the night sky by the Indian ocean doesn’t quite level with the photos taken by paid influencers. But most importantly, it becomes an issue, when people get discouraged to travel, because they feel that they can see the same through their mobile screen, without the hustle. Traveling isn’t about the perfect Instagram shot, it’s about seeing it with your own eyes, from your own perspective, building your own memories and connecting to the place on a personal level. Not through a paid promotion on your mobile screen.

I still want to go to Bali, but I must admit, the feeling that I know what to expect has taken away part of the excitement of going to a new place. Today it’s all about getting to that dream destination, before Instagram has made it mainstream.