Instagram is ruining travel for all of us

Maybe I shouldn’t cast the first stone when it comes to Instagram hype as I’ve been feeding the beast too. But lately Instagram has become almost like a professional sport where it’s increasingly hard to keep up with the competition.

I never went the extra mile so my profile leaves a lot to be desired. That only two of my photos have been reposted in five years speaks volumes. So you might say that I am just venting my frustration here. In fact I’ve been frustrated more than once. Not by my artistic failure but by inflated expectations caused by Instagram. Therefore I strongly believe that Instagram is ruining travel for you, the perfect Instagrammer, and everyone else for the following reasons:

  • Before you used to discover new places. Now all you do is rush from one Instagram location to another, ticking off all the #mustsee and #mustdo points.
  • The trips are no longer evaluated by the experiences you’ve had but by the number of hearts and reposts you’ve collected.
  • If you leave home without knowing which hashtags to use in order to have your photo reposted you’ve clearly been slacking off with your pre-trip research.
  • Remember filters? They are so 2014. Today you use your ND and polarising filters along with a tripod, remote shutter release and whatnot to obtain the best results.
  • For you, nothing is insta anymore. It’s all about careful planning and lots of post production. That’s why you’ve mastered Photoshop like a pro.
  • You start planning your trip around the right times of day to catch the perfect light at each location on your to-do list. Therefore you don’t mind getting up in the wee hours of night to reach the summit of Roy’s Peak (or any other mountain) before sunrise. No pain no gain, right?
  • You never forget to pack your props: red jacket or yellow boots are a must for any nature photography, a hat adds that little extra that sets you apart from all the Instalosers.
  • No cliff is too high, and no water too cold. For the perfect artistic expression you need to stand right at the edge of that cliff preferably in some yoga posture or dive right under that waterfall.

In the end, of course your photos are perfect. So perfect in fact that the nature always falls short of the high bar you’ve set.

I’ve made the mistake and followed the Instagrammers of a place that we intended to travel to before. It didn’t teach me anything. Approaching our trip to New Zealand I slipped again and almost started to plan our trip according to the most instagrammed places only to realise later that:

  • The milky way is never purple nor is it arching right in front of the Cathedral Cove.
  • At 11 pm there was a group of at least ten photographers with tripods in front of the Church of the Good Shepherd waiting in cold wind for the Chinese wedding couple to finish their photo shoot.
What no Instagram photo ever will show you is that you will be competing for space and some quiet at the Church of the Good Shepherd with a wedding party and a group of other photographers.
  • The sky over the Mt. Aoraki campsite was in fact full of stars but the howling wind rocking our camper through the night made me ditch any plans of going out.
  • We missed the last sun rays casting light on that Wanaka Tree by a couple of minutes.
If you miss the perfect light you just need to improvise a bit. #instaloser
If you miss the perfect light you must improvise a bit. #instaloser
  • New Zealand weather caught me off guard more often than not. I was literally left out in the cold too many times that I would bother to wait for the perfect sunset / moon to rise / lights to go on.

It took me a while to start seeing New Zealand through my eyes, not through the never ending lineup of photoshopped images in my Instagram feed.

In the end our trip turned out to be one of the most memorable experiences of our lives. Since none of my photos deserved a repost, this probably doesn’t count, but honestly, I don’t give a f…k.

I told you I'm not cut out for this.
See, I’m not cut out for this.