16 In Travel Tips

Would You Still Want To Travel If You Didn’t Have Social Media?

Constantly leaving home is a lifestyle that travelers need to do in order to feel satisfied and whole with life again. If you’re like us, you’re always thinking about travel, searching for flights, and researching a way to gather up the funds to explore another part of the world. This lifestyle is supported by desire, passion, drive and that insatiable wanderlust and curiosity embedded within.

So, in the modern day of travel, what’s different? The growing and ever-changing social media landscape of today has had a major influence on the way travelers see, experience and think about travel. I scroll through Instagram every morning while on the subway and see castles and plazas, gelatos and beers, museums and bars that I would’ve never been able to see before unless I physically went to the places that were tagged in the photos for myself. I tap through Snapchat and get glimpses of my friends’ travels in real time, from that necessary passport photo at the airline terminal to the struggles at baggage claim to taking a taxi and getting to their Airbnb. Social media has allowed us to experience what our fellow travelers are experiencing, almost as if we were physically there with them.

And that’s both a blessing and a curse.

I don’t necessarily think that if social media didn’t exist, I wouldn’t want to travel any more or less than I do now. I’d want to travel just as frequently and have my experiences abroad continue as an active, consuming and necessary part of my life. Before social media took over the travel landscape, my desire to visit London, Paris, Tokyo, Bali, among the tons of other places I have and haven’t been, was still there. Films, TV series, books and even music did back then what social media does for me now. Even using my imagination and solely envisioning myself somewhere that I’d never been to was testament to the fact that you don’t always have to know or see a place in real life to want to go there. There’s a subtle charm in not knowing. The first experience in a new place can be less contrived and more organic that way, and therefore, a lot more special.

What I can say, however, is that there is a sense of longing, a fear of missing out (colloquially called ‘FOMO‘) sort of syndrome that comes from seeing people you follow on social media travel. It’s like, “well, why am I not traveling? Or why can’t I go there? or “why am I not there right now?” It makes us envious of opportunities that other travelers have, the choices they’ve made or the means in which they’re able to travel in the way they do. It causes envy, dissatisfaction, and even bitterness and resentment towards our fellow travelers, but also in ourselves, which isn’t what travel should be about. Social media also has a tendency to not represent the whole story or paint the entire picture when people travel. Things happen, plans don’t often follow through. Cameras get lost and phones get stolen. Planes are delayed and luggage gets misplaced in transit. It’s inevitable and completely out of one’s control, but more often than not, the people behind the photo or video only show their friends, followers or subscribers the highlight reel of their travels, not the behind the scenes.

So, while social media has changed the ways that travelers travel and future travelers make their plans to go off to explore the world, it’s important to take a step back for a second and question those moments of envy that turn us negative too quickly. On the one hand, it’s a wonderful thing to show the world what you’re up to or where you’re going, but it’s also okay to not have to highlight it at all, too. It’s also okay to highlight your travels in a way that is raw, real, authentic and true to yourself. It’s okay to highlight and talk about your struggles, because travel doesn’t have to be perfect. More often than not, it isn’t. On the other hand, for us as viewers, it’s okay to have those envious moments at times. Those feelings we get from those photos are valid, but they shouldn’t have to be the make or break factor for you when deciding on your own travel plans or how you feel about other people’s. I wanted to travel before I had Instagram and I want to travel just as much with it because now I understand that social media is never an accurate representation of what someone’s experiences are like.

There’s so much that social media doesn’t show us.

It doesn’t show us the connections made with other people. It doesn’t show us the conversations had with locals. It doesn’t show us how savory that arepa tasted in Caracas or how flavorful that cappuccino felt on your lips in Naples. Yet, it doesn’t make those moments any less important just because they aren’t online. It doesn’t make those conversations had any less valuable, those tender ‘movie moments‘ with others any less real. The person behind the screen just decided that they weren’t going to (and didn’t have to) share everything with the digital world.

Ever since I started to realize that there’s more to traveling that documenting every part of it, my perspectives have altered. The way I travel and the way I document is presented in a way that I believe to be my truth — my own unique experience. In a way that works for me and in a way that allows me to highlight the good, the bad and the beautiful parts of the world. Or not highlight any of it at all, but rather keep it in my memory for myself, instead.

I thank social media every day though. And I think every one of us as travelers should do the same, regardless of how we use it and feel about it.

Diana Signature

Do you agree? What are your thoughts on social media and its effect on the travel landscape? Let us know in the comments below. 

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16 Comments

  • Reply
    Daphne
    May 31, 2017 at 5:42 PM

    Sometimes I think the Instagram photos ruin a place for me. E.g. if I see a million photos of the Eiffel Tower, I wouldn’t want to go there anymore. Or Instagram pushes me to explore new destinations and plunge deep into the Amazon and the no man’s land? Hahaha.

    • Reply
      Diana
      May 31, 2017 at 8:13 PM

      I kind of feel the same way. It’s like, why go where everyone else has gone and go somewhere unconventional, instead? The hidden gems! 🙂

  • Reply
    Sol Solntze
    June 3, 2017 at 8:48 PM

    It’s more that I still wouldn;t want to travel – I’m much more comfortable as an armchair traveller when it comes to long distances and potentially uncomfortable journeys. But I’ve always enjoyed following along with others’ travels. Back in the day, it would have been books. Still is books, but there are more blogs about trael than books these days, and I do enjoy a good scroll on instagram.

    Anyway, interesting article. The effect social media has on every aspect of life is really interesting.

    • Reply
      Diana
      June 5, 2017 at 4:15 PM

      Interesting perspective! Thanks for sharing. I agree with you on the books however. They’re always a useful tool!

  • Reply
    Anete
    June 7, 2017 at 4:25 PM

    I am thankful that we have social media. Even if it’s doesn’t always portray the whole story and you might see just the nice side of something, that’s good enough. It’s always good to see something beautiful and nice and not think about the other side. Plus social media give people way more chances to learn something new than before. Feeling positive today 😉

  • Reply
    Jen
    June 7, 2017 at 6:09 PM

    Very insightful! I definitely try to disconnect for a bit when I’m gone and sometimes feel obliged to document things for social media on my visit instead of just enjoy. And I agree, social media only shows highlights! Thank you for sharing 🙂

  • Reply
    fee
    June 7, 2017 at 8:22 PM

    Well written. I get that ‘fomo’, has been heightened in many people since the introduction of social media and how us as a generation consume it all. I love to travel, I think it’s a curse in a way where social media has allowed the masses to discover alot of untouched places, but it’s also bought money to alot of places that maybe neceseriily had no tourism over a decade ago. It’s what people make of it, I love to travel for the sake of seeing new places and discovering new cultures. I’ll always feel that way regardless of where the ‘popular’ places are for people to visit.

    • Reply
      Diana
      June 9, 2017 at 3:53 AM

      The bit you mentioned about money and driving commerce and tourism is super important too! I completely forgot about that. It’s not all bad then, huh? 😉 Thanks for your input!

  • Reply
    Meg
    June 7, 2017 at 8:53 PM

    I agree on social media – too many people look at social media and travel and see it as a way to tick off a giant bucket list. Snap a pic of a place without really digging deeper and learning about the culture and people of a place.

  • Reply
    Delilah
    June 7, 2017 at 11:54 PM

    You have a lot of good points here. Sometimes, it seems, people really let social media overtake their travels. In turn, they end up losing out on experiencing the feeling of being present and in the moment. I think it’s important to disconnect every once in a while and just enjoy making memories.

    • Reply
      Diana
      June 9, 2017 at 3:52 AM

      I agree! I think ‘document less, experience more’ is the perfect way to sum up how a lot of us travelers/bloggers feel!

  • Reply
    Lula Dolz
    June 8, 2017 at 7:30 AM

    This is a lovely post, Diana. Really refreshing (not many people speak honestly about how obsessed we all are with social media) and yeah FOMO gets me a lot… I’ve started just not going on Instagram some days as also I waste so much time and it doesn’t make me feel great.
    The last paragraph is great ‘there’s so much SM doesn’t show us’ we forget that but you’re so right. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Reply
    neha
    June 8, 2017 at 8:53 AM

    Perhaps I would love to travel more if i didn’t have social media. I am a travel blogger, and since the time I started taking my travel blogging seriously, I sometimes feel bound to work on vacation which I don’t like. On the other hand, my travel style has been changing for the good..thanks to fellow travelers whom I get to interact with on the social media platforms.

  • Reply
    Rosie Fluskey
    June 8, 2017 at 5:50 PM

    This makes me feel old lol. When I first went travelling I took very few photos, and had to go to an Internet cafe to update my status (without any photos) every few days. I still burned to travel then as I do now. I definitely take more photos (for the blog) but I try to tell the truth too. There have been many an ugly sleeping photos on a bus that’s been put on Facebook. I think social media in moderation is fine, but I agree that you should tell the whole story sometimes.

  • Reply
    Clazz - An Orcadian Abroad
    June 11, 2017 at 9:47 PM

    I like that social media opens us up to so many more things in the world, but I hate that it’s made daily comparisons such a huge thing. There’s more pressure than ever to seem like everything’s perfect, when in actual fact it isn’t for anyone. You’re so right – no Instagram photo can sum up the wonderful conversations you’ve had with locals, and often it’s the things you don’t document that make up the best parts of travel. I feel like some people focus on getting that perfect photo to show off to everyone and then move on. Much like the evolution of the internet at the moment – people seem to have zero attention span, and I think that’s all down to social media too.

    • Reply
      Diana
      June 12, 2017 at 2:41 AM

      Thanks for your thoughts! I completely agree and wish social media would let us be in the moment more…but sometimes we can’t be and thanks inevitable? Who knows where we’ll be in the travel world in a few years time!

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