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For the ‘gram: the truth behind travel photos

by Travelbag on 11 July 2019, 10:07AM

Instagram travel

Photographs are a major element of travelling, whether for instant sharing or to impress our family and friends once we’re home. But as social media has become ever-present in our daily lives, the pressure to "do it for the ‘gram" or to get the perfect picture has become increasingly insistent. Instagram pages dedicated to travelling have become such a phenomenon that pages such as ‘Insta repeat’ have sprung up, along with those poor ‘Boyfriends of Instagram’, highlighting the lengths people are going to in order to create these amazing, Insta-worthy pictures.

But are these shots really true to the experiences travellers are having?


Credit: @insta_repeat


We at Travelbag decided that we’d look into Brit’s social media habits, running a survey of over 2000 members of the British public, to understand the impact that getting the ‘perfect shot’ is having on travel and to see what we could do to change it.

When asked the question, “How important is your social media presence to you?” nearly 40% of social media users agreed that it was important. But perhaps unsurprisingly, maintaining a social media presence was most valued by Generation Z and Millennials. Over half (54%) of Generation Z who used social media agreed that their social media presence was important, closely followed by 49% of Millennial social media users. A huge proportion compared to those social media users aged 45+, only 27% of whom agreed that their social media presence was important.

And the reason for updating their social media? Two in every five social media users surveyed claimed that they update their social media in order to share their experiences.  Although interestingly, 33% of males aged 25-34 claimed that they update their social media in order to see who likes it – higher than any other demographic, male or female. So maybe it’s the boys looking for the likes!

Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Louvre

Credit: Pinterest, Janice Calhoun and Pinterest, WeWoreWhat


Despite this, when social media users were asked, “Do the photographs on your social media offer a true reflection of the experience you had at the time/ place they show?” it was overwhelmingly a ‘no’. Three-quarters admitted that not all of their photos were reflective of the experience they were having.

social media graph

However, it wasn’t just the younger generations that topped the charts this time, but there was a high percentage – over 70% of social media users in all age groups - who agreed that their photos weren’t a true reflection of their experiences.

Lesley Rollo, Managing Director here at Travelbag said: “It’s evident that people are simply following the herd when it comes to their travel pictures. They want to evoke perfection in every picture but in reality, those pictures are rarely the ones that would trigger a memory of a holiday or an experience – they’re just the views they want others to see.”

But it’s clear that Instagram does have an influence over travel, particularly with the younger demographic: 40% of Generation Z and Millennial social media users agreed that Instagram influences their travels. But some were going as far to say that Instagram can have a negative impact on their holiday or travels. Just under 40% of social media users surveyed admitted that the pressure of capturing ‘perfection’ in their shots had a negative impact on their holidays – and 54% of Generation Z and Millennials who use social media agreed.


Credit: Pinterest, #FollowMeTo


But it doesn’t have to be that way, as Rollo continued: “We don’t believe travel should be a box-ticking exercise, or an ‘Insta-sham’ designed to garner likes or followers. Getting out there has never been easier, and we encourage people to embrace that sense of adventure.”

Having seen that the biggest motivation behind people updating their social media was so they could share their experiences, we decided to launch a campaign that brings those experiences to life. We want to tell the stories beyond the iPhone lens, the stories of people experiencing the nitty gritty of a place while they’re travelling or on holiday, and the stories that will turn into memories and be told for many years to come. So, stay tuned for Travelbag’s very own travelling storybook – Not on Instagram. Coming soon!


If you have a travel story that you’re desperate to tell, that you won’t find on the ‘gram, please get in touch with [email protected] for a chance to be featured!

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