How do you pick your holiday destination?
Do you look for weather – hot, sunny and dry climate for a break from cold weather, or maybe you need colder, snowy weather for skiing or snowboarding? Perhaps you want to experience the culture in Argentina, learn how to latin dance in Cuba, or try scuba diving in the Philippines.
Do you turn to social media for inspiration? Maybe? Chances are if you’re reading this, it’s because you follow my blog or my social channels – or you searched something about ‘instagrammable locations’ so I bet in some way you’re influenced by the content you see online. Whether it’s another loved up shot in Paris with the Eiffel Tower glistening at dusk, pastel pink sakura in Japan, or the white sandy beaches in Bora Bora, there’s a high chance you’ve seen a destination on Instagram and added it to your wishlist.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. I can hold my hands up and admit that I’ve been influenced by travel instagrammers that have shared photos of exotic places and quirky destinations; and these places are now some which I’d love to visit. Maybe if I hadn’t seen these photos I wouldn’t know about these places, maybe I would’ve come across them in travel magazines instead or through a friend at some point – but who knows? Hell, I post travel photos on instagram myself, so I’d be hypocritical if I said that I frown upon people doing so. I’m all for a great shot, a quick snap in a busy street, or a sunset – I’m a sucker for a good sunset!
I worry that it becomes an issue when people are influenced to visit a destination only to take photos for instagram. They don’t visit to experience the traditional cuisine, to immerse themselves in the culture and learn about the history. They’re just looking for some likes on a stylised photo and honestly, that’s a little sad.
What’s sadder is that this is actually a real factor for some people when picking their holidays. Research conducted by Schofields Insurance found that two fifths (40.1%) of millennials are drawn to a destination based on how instagrammable it is. I openly joke about doing things ‘for the gram’ and making daft remarks, but I think it can be damaging if you’re caught up on how you’ll be perceived based on which destinations you visit.
I see travel as a opportunity to learn about the culture and to challenge preconceptions I may have. An opportunity to educate myself and soak up knowledge, leaving with facts and stories as well as memories. Travelling is a great way to try new delicacies and experience the traditional dishes where they began. No, I won’t always like things, but I’ll give it a try and I think that willingness is welcomed by locals; the same goes for trying to speak the language where I can.
It’s surprising that sightseeing was only the top motivating factor for 3.9% of adults and trying local cuisine a little higher at 9.4%, but still somewhat low compared to how their social updates would be received by fellow ‘grammers. Yes I’ll take photos when I’m on a trip, but I also want to take in what’s around me with my eyes and not see it all through a camera lens or an iPhone. It’s something I actively try to do and I’ll put my phone and camera away and just take in a new place. Take Melbourne for instance, I landed there shortly after sunrise and was giddy with excitement to explore the city. The first thing I did was walk around to get my bearings and take in as much as I could; all the sounds, what I could see and what I could smell.
Next time you’re planning a holiday, consider what’s really drawing you to that destination. I know I’m definitely interested to hear other people’s opinions on this, whichever side you’re on.
This is a collaborative post but all views and photos are my own.