How to not let Instagram ruin your travel experience (or anyone else's)

Jul 8 2019, 8:09 pm

“If you didn’t Instagram it, did you even travel?”

– Millennials


We’re living in an age where the world is more accessible than ever — both physically and digitally.

Travel bugs are constantly stimulated as we scroll though amazing photos of the world. And thanks to improved transportation, remote work opportunities, and a newfound sense of YOLO amongst today’s population of wanderlusters, it’s more feasible than ever to turn your feed into a reality.

Social media has its benefits for travellers. It’s a way to share experiences with family and friends while you’re on the road. It allows you to connect with new friends along the way. After your trip, it acts as a digital journal of your memories to help combat those post-travel blues.

Thanks to this inundation of travel content, social media users are inspired to get off their butts phones and get out into the world. This is overall a great thing.

The irony is that getting out into the world doesn’t necessarily equate to getting off the phone. In fact, in some cases, it can mean quite the opposite.

Here is our official number one rule for travelling and social media: The experience comes first.

 

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… Social media is a nice afterthought though!

Simply put, if you’re experiencing the world through a screen rather than through your own eyes, you’re doing it wrong. You are guaranteed to diminish the experience for yourself and for others around you if the ‘gram is your top travel priority.

Trust me, this is coming from an obsessive Instagrammer, so I get the struggle.

I can’t lie. I love the relationship between Instagram and travel. My feed is one big throwback when I’m not travelling. I love capturing moments on trips, and when I’m back home they help get me through my withdrawals. Looking back at the content triggers memories of exactly how I was feeling in those moments — let’s call it that travel-induced magic. And that magic is what make me feel more alive than anything else in the world.

Plus, since I am usually travelling solo, using social media allows me to connect over my experiences with people across the globe. How could solo travel be lonely when you’re sharing it with friends and family along the way?

 

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Yes, I am Insta-obsessed, but I am obsessed with that magic even more. Those moments of being off the grid, with no Wi-Fi signal in sight, taking in the nature and culture of some faraway land, that’s what the magic is made of.

So how do you use social media to enhance your experience, not hinder it?

Here are some tried, tested, and true tips to use social media wisely while travelling.

Allow yourself to get off the grid

Don’t get a SIM card or enable roaming on your travels unless you absolutely have to. Savour those breaks in between Wi-Fi and use them for pure connections, with nature, people, or yourself.

Get that photo, if you must

If you care about the photo, just embrace it. Don’t fight it. Get the photo.

Just do it in a way that doesn’t consume your experience, or hinder anyone else’s.

First and foremost, take some time to soak in your surroundings with your own eyes. Many travel experiences will never happen again in our lives, and that first impression of something new and exciting is where the true magic comes from. Make a conscious effort to savour it without any devices in hand.

If you would like yourself to be in the photo, ask someone to take it. Hostel buds, fellow tour members, friendly looking strangers, whoever. Can this be awkward? Absolutely. But you may never get this moment back, so if it’s important to you, just suck it up and do it. I would rather face the embarrassment of asking a stranger to take my photo than have lived my whole life without an epic silverback photobomb. Duh.

 

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Read the room

Going off of the above tip, it’s all well and good to ask people to take your photo if it’s important to you — but use your discretion when selecting your photographer. Do not ruin someone else’s magic.

For example, don’t ask that lovely-dovey couple who is on the verge of getting engaged to take a photo of you. Avoid the person who is in the middle of a run or meditation practice. Gauge the vibes of anyone who looks like the last thing they need is to be approached by an annoying Instagrammer.

To really set yourself up for success, ask someone who looks like they get the ‘gram game. You know the people I’m talking about — it takes an Insta addict to know an Insta addict. Ask someone who has a camera or is taking their own selfie. Someone who understands that “can you please take a photo for me?” actually means “can you tap your finger 50 times as I walk away from the camera and then look off into the distance?” They know not to get other people in the background, not too get too much ground, and to use basic photography tips like the rule of thirds.

Then you can return the favour and everybody Instagrammer wins.

Pay attention to your surroundings

Don’t let your posing or snapping impede the views of your fellow travellers. If you enjoy dabbling in the occasional selfie-twirl on Instagram Stories, do a quick scan of your environment first to make sure you don’t knock anyone out. Don’t step in front of someone who is capturing a photo of their own. And don’t set up your shot in front of someone who is actually taking in the world with their own eyes. Because people still do that. And you should too, remember?

Safety comes first

This above all else. Risking your life is not worth it for the ‘gram. There have been a shocking number of selfie-related deaths that have occurred over recent years, and this type of tragedy is all too avoidable. Watch your footing, don’t get close to the ledge, abide by any restrictions or advisories, and be cautious. You can selfie all you want, as long as you’re selfie-ing responsibly (yes, selfie-ing is a verb now).

So Instagram fam, remember to use social media while you travel, but use it wisely. And make sure to share your travel photos with us using #dailyhivemapped!