October 3

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How Social Media is Spoiling the Travel Experience (And Why You Should Unplug When You Travel)

People take things at face value on social media. Earnestness is the assumption.

Mindy Kaling

It's no secret that social media has changed how we live. We document our every move on Facebook and TikTok, post pictures of our meals on Instagram, and share our thoughts on Twitter. And while social media can be a great way to stay connected with friends and family, it's also detrimental to how we travel.

Remember when you used to have to go places to see things? And people would talk to each other while they were there? Yeah, those were the days. But all that changed when social media came along. Now, it seems everyone is more interested in capturing the perfect photo for their feed than actually enjoying the experience. By the time you get home, there's nothing left to tell! 

With platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok, it's never been easier to document our lives and share those experiences with our friends and followers. But is all this documentation and sharing ruining travel? Let's take a closer look.

Social Media Kills Travel By Putting Unnecessary Pressure on Travelers

In the past, if you wanted to get a great photo of yourself in front of the Taj Mahal, you might have to wait a bit until there were no relatives or other tourists in your shot. Of course, this means that everyone else is trying to do the same thing, which can lead to some pretty big crowds at popular tourist destinations. 

Moreover, all this documentation often leads to FOMO (fear of missing out).

We're constantly bombarded with images of idealized vacations on social media in today's world. We see our friends posting photos of pristine beaches, perfect sunsets, and sumptuous meals, and we can't help but feel like we're missing out and sometimes feel like we have to one-up them. So we plan bigger and better vacations, often spending more money than we can afford. And when we finally take that trip, we're so focused on getting great photos and videos that we don't enjoy ourselves.

But we don't see the less-than-ideal moments that happen on every trip. The missed flights, the lousy weather, the stomach bugs – those are the things that don't make for good Instagram posts. As a result, we often forget that everyone's experiences are imperfect, and that's OK.

If you're tired of FOMO and the pressures of social media, it might be time to unplug on your next vacation. Yes, that means no posting on Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok. No checking your email or Twitter notifications. Just you, enjoying the experience without worrying about getting the perfect shot for your feed.

WASHINGTON DC UNITED STATES - ALLEZ ELIZABETH
This was in DC. She didn't even see me there. *shrug*

Social Media Gives Us False Expectations of What Travel Should Be

We've all been there. You're planning a trip and start scrolling through Instagram, looking at all the beautiful places your friends have been. Suddenly, you feel like your life is inadequate because you don't see the world as much as they do.

We see our friends post about their amazing trips, and we think that we should be able to have the same experience. Everyone curates their own version of reality on social media. Just because someone had a great time doesn't mean that you will too. The best way to find out if you'll enjoy a place is by seeing it yourself. 

Many people have become disillusioned with a destination because it didn't meet their social media-fueled expectations. You often hear stories about the French (*insert any other demonym*) being rude, people getting arrested for committing a cultural faux pas, or worse yet, some idiot (or group of idiots) filming themselves doing stupid shit for likes.  These incidents sometimes get blown out of proportion because social media allows us to share news instantaneously without the nuance or context required to make it digestible.

Social media often gives us a one-sided view of reality.

When I went to Brussels, I kept getting messages about how it was dangerous to be there.

“Aren't you afraid of getting bombed?”

“Watch your back; there are a lot of pickpockets!”

I was starting to get worried, especially since I would be there alone. But when I arrived in Brussels, I found it a safe and beautiful city. Yes, there were pickpockets, but there are pickpockets everywhere. I never felt unsafe, and I had a fantastic time. And yes, the waffles are fucking delicious.

The next time you're planning a trip, don't base your decision on what you see on social media. Remember that what you see on social media is just ONE person's experience. Do your research, don't expect things to be as you saw them online, and form your own opinion about a place. One of the best parts about traveling is discovering new places for yourself.

ALLEZ ELIZABETH - QUOTE - How Social Media is Spoiling the Travel Experience (And Why You Should Unplug When You Travel) - MINDY KALING
“People take things at face value on social media. Earnestness is the assumption.” – Mindy Kaling

Social Media Has Taught Us Not To Respect Each Other's Travel Experiences

We've all been there. You're in the middle of enjoying a beautiful sunset when someone in your group whips out their phone and starts taking photos or videos. Or you're trying to enjoy a meal at a nice restaurant, but the person next to you is more interested in getting the perfect photo of their food than actually tasting it.

When we're constantly looking at our phones, we're not present in the moment. How can you truly take in the beauty of a sunset when you're too busy trying to get the perfect picture?  If you're not careful, you'll end up with photos of places you don't remember.

In the age of social media, it's all about getting that perfect shot. What do you do when there's a person in front of you taking a million photographs while trying to appreciate a stunning view?

It can be frustrating, especially if you're trying to enjoy the moment. I've often found myself waiting for people to finish taking their photos so that I can get my shot. But even then, it's not always possible to get the image you want because there are too many people around.

Remember, you're not the only one trying to get a shot. Other people want photographic souvenirs too.  But if you're not careful, you might ruin the experience for everyone else.

If you're planning on taking a lot of photos, be considerate of other people and try to take them quickly so that everyone can enjoy the view. And if you see someone taking their time to enjoy the moment, maybe put your camera away and just appreciate the experience with them.

I was shocked to see people shuffling through Monet's Gardens at Giverny. Here is the identical perspective that Monet painted, and visitors were just snapping photos (usually in front of us sitting on the bench taking in the view) without apology or slowing down long enough to appreciate it.

If you don't want to enjoy Monet's work, please don't ruin it for the rest of us. Give people the same courtesy that you would want to be given to you. It's not only about being obnoxious; it's also about missing out on the experience. If you're focused on getting that perfect photo, you might not even notice the little things that make travel special.

Take a step back and soak in your surroundings. Appreciate the view without always needing to document it. And most importantly, respect other people's space and experiences. We can all coexist peacefully and still enjoy the beauty of travel. 

It's one thing to take a photo or two to remember the moment, but it's another thing to spend the whole time taking photos and not enjoying the experience. If you're too busy taking photos, you're not traveling – you're just going through the motions.

Social Media is a Bubble, and You Might Be Surprised to Learn that Not Everyone Enjoys Having Their Photo Taken. 

If you're the type who likes to take many photos when you travel, that's great! But remember that not everyone is like that. Some people downright hate having their photos taken.  Whenever you want to take a picture of someone, always ask for permission first. Not only is it courteous to do, but it will also help you avoid any potential awkwardness. Remember that not everyone enjoys having their photo taken, and that's perfectly normal.

Social Media Encourages Us to Compare Our Lives to Others

Another problem with social media is that it encourages us to compare our lives to others. It can be particularly dangerous when it comes to travel because it's easy to look at somebody else's vacation photos and think, “Why can't my life be like that?” But here's the thing: we all have different lives, and what works for one person might not work for another. Just because somebody else can afford to travel worldwide doesn't mean that you can—and that's OK! You don't need to feel guilty or ashamed if you can't travel as much as somebody else. The important thing is that you're doing what works for you and making the most of your situation.

This is similar to point one, but it's worth mentioning here because it's a common trap to fall into when scrolling through social media feeds. When we're constantly bombarded with images of other people's seemingly perfect lives—perfect vacations, perfect bodies, perfect relationships—it's easy to compare our own lives to theirs and come up short. We start to question why our trips don't look as glamorous as the ones we see on social media, and before long, convincing us that we're doing travel wrong.

The truth is, there's no right or wrong way to travel. The only way to do it wrong is not to do it at all. It's easy to get caught up in what other people are doing and forget what's important to you. When we see someone posting about their fifth trip this year, we might question why we're not doing the same. But just because someone is traveling more than you doesn't make them happier or better than you. You should do what works for you and meets your needs, not what looks good on social media. 

We all have imperfections, including the people whose lives look effortlessly perfect on social media. So instead of comparing your life to others, focus on being grateful for what you have.

ALLEZ ELIZABETH - CUSTOM LARGE RECTANGULAR AD-OUIBUS BlaBlaBus or NONBUS Late to Bruxelles Lost in Paris
The first post after a wonderful birthday trip shouldn't be to complain about a company, but here we are.

Social Media Give Us a Distorted View of Reality

It's important to remember that social media can give us a distorted view of reality. People tend only to post their best photos on Facebook or Instagram, meaning we only see other people's highlight reels. And while there's nothing wrong with sharing your best moments with your friends and family members, it's important to remember that those moments only represent a small slice of somebody else's life. Just because somebody looks like they're having a fantastic time in their vacation photos doesn't mean they didn't experience any problems during their trip—they probably did! It just means they chose not to share those problems with their friends and followers on social media.

Next time you find yourself scrolling through your feed and feeling envy towards somebody else's vacation photos, try to remember that you only see one side of the story. Usually, it's the side with the best angle. Appreciate, but avoid envy. There are always two sides to every story.

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Social Media Makes Us Think We're Experiencing the World When We're Not 

One of the biggest problems with social media is that it gives us the false impression that we're experiencing the world when we're not. For example, let's say you're scrolling through your Facebook feed and see a picture of your best friend at the top of the Eiffel Tower. You might think to yourself, “Wow, she's so lucky! I wish I could be there.” But here's the thing: you're not experiencing anything by looking at that picture.

You're not feeling the wind in your hair as you stand atop the tower. You're not smelling the fresh croissants from a nearby bakery. You're not hearing the sounds of the city bustling below you. You're just looking at a picture. And while pictures can be nice, they'll never replace the real thing.

The world is a living, breathing entity you may engage with if you put your phone down. Don't just sit there and admire other people's travel photos—get out there and explore the world for yourself! And remember that social media can be a form of escapism, so make sure to engage with the world around you rather than just looking at pictures.

Conclusion

Traveling is one of the best things that you can do for yourself. It broadens your horizons, teaches new things, and allows you to meet interesting people worldwide. But in recent years, social media has taken away some of the joy of travel. We get caught up in trying to have the perfect experience instead of just enjoying ourselves.

Relax and take a break. It's simple: we use our phones 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and they become the focus of everything else around us. So next time you plan a trip, put down your phone and live in the moment instead of constantly checking it.

After all, that's what travel is all about.

*Hey, this page contains affiliate links. There’s no extra cost to you, but I receive a small commission when you decide to use them. They help me keep this party going.


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ALLEZ ELIZABETH - PINTEREST - How Social Media is Spoiling the Travel Experience (And Why You Should Unplug When You Travel)

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