Nothing feels more Instagram-worthy than travel. And for good reason. If social media is our life’s highlight reel and a helpful tool for engaging with others, then why wouldn’t we want to photograph and share our adventurous achievements as often as we can?
Because we might be putting a lot of needless pressure on ourselves in the process.
Be honest with yourself: When planning your holiday, how often are you actually planning two trips? The one filled with logistics of time off, a budget, and how to safely get to your destination — and the other trip, the one that you want everyone to see on Instagram, hashtagged to your heart’s content?
Of course, this isn’t hating on a beautiful aesthetic, boutique hotels, or that perfect outdoor cafe situated under a dome of wisteria. After all, we don’t travel just to check “a nightmare of a dump” off our bucket list. But in a world that’s growing increasingly preoccupied with digital influence, upping the WOW-factor, and presenting an as idealized version of ourselves as possible, here’s some encouragement to reclaim the kind of travel that’s best for your eyes only.
Why you should put your phone away and stay off Instagram on vacation:
It’ll keep you relatable.
Despite it feeling like you might be the only person on social media who lacks the ability to be a full-time jetsetter, remember this: Traveling should sensitize you to the needs and differences of others, not serve as trophy points to elevate you above.
There’s a sneaky root of pride that can weave in whenever we get to do something outside the norm; couple a one-of-a-kind travel privilege with the instant affirmation of digital followers and that adrenaline rush could certainly get addicting. We can start to think that unless we stay in the coolest Airbnb or have dinner at that must-see place then our experience is worth less than someone else’s (or conversely, if we do, then our experience is worth so much more).
But the truth is, sometimes it’s smarter to go for the chain hotel if that keeps you from racking up debt or only eating at food carts because you prefer a casual vibe to something more upscale. Your trip is yours to enjoy, not for others to comment on, and if a vacation has elements that bring you back down to earth a little bit, consider it a blessing in disguise. You’ll develop a more grounded approach to travel which, in turn, will foster a greater sense of self-confidence and deeper ability to empathize and relate to others. That’s what any good trip should do.
You’ll develop a more grounded approach to travel which, in turn, will foster a greater sense of self-confidence and deeper ability to empathize and relate to others. That’s what any good trip should do.
Your focus will be inward.
Traveling is exciting, no question. When you first touch down in a place that’s long been on your radar, it can feel like the joy could cause you to spontaneously combust. But, it can be so easy to get consumed with posting every photo and tracking down free wifi that before you know it, “vacation” is over and you’re already back at your 9-5.
Traveling somewhere that isn’t necessarily “cool” or “popular” can grant you the digital freedom to check back in with yourself — away from needless pressures and with space in your head and heart to think. If there isn’t anything photo-worthy where you’re staying, great! You just won some precious stillness that might actually do what you (probably) went on vacation to do in the first place: rest, recharge, and relax. Capitalize on it.
You’ll discover different treasures.
Being overly focused on sharing every aspect of a trip can mean — even subconsciously — that you’re always looking for what everyone else will love. The ubiquitous nature of travel hashtags is proof enough of how the right photo shared by the right outlet could seemingly catapult anyone to Insta-fame.
And again, while there’s nothing wrong with hashtags, when we get too preoccupied with framing the perfect shot so that the perfect account might just repost it, how do we really know what we like and what a vacation or a city uniquely means to us? When the pressure of sharing a place is alleviated, the possibility of discovering something unexpected exponentially increases. That’s when the greatest travel stories are written — the ones that offer another level of insight, perspective, and soul.
Such moments are growing increasingly rare.
Taking a trip somewhere that goes against the grain or that hasn’t been tagged dozens of times is the stuff of modern-day exploring.
In our Internet Information Age, a good thing doesn’t stay hidden for long; before we know it it’s going to be the truly off-the-grid, wifi-less places that are coveted vacation spots, so take advantage of being somewhere “uncool” and consider it a forerunner of future luxury.
No matter what taking an “un-Instagrammable” trip may mean to you, at the heart of it is simply a call to indulge: indulge in the quiet, indulge in the energy, indulge in the feeling of being open to the unexpected (and closed to the expectations of anyone else who might rain on that parade).
That’s what travel is and why most of us do it. To humble ourselves. To be changed. And to find our place in the world in the process. We can plug our phones in when we get back home. Mostly likely, we haven’t missed a thing.