Reading the headlines, you could be forgiven for thinking social media (and Instagram specifically) is destroying travel experiences and killing the planet.
If we’re pointing fingers, the obvious people to blame are stereotypical travel influencers—people who fill their feeds with idyllic, “Instagrammable” backdrops and beautifully curated lives that seep into the psyches of their millions of followers. These followers then dutifully follow in the influencers’ footsteps to see these places, recreate these experiences, and fill their own feeds with similar snapshots that are shared with friends, family, and followers.
And therein lies the crux: The truth is, we are all influencers. According to Expedia Group’s 2023 Traveler Value Index, people are most likely to turn to family, friends and travel providers for travel inspiration—although social media is a close second. This means we all need to be more mindful of how the content we tweet, shoot and share impacts the places we visit and the people who call those places home.
Certainly, sharing on social media offers inspiration on where to go and what to do, but it does so much more than that. What we decide to share (and not share) and how we frame our travels also influences what others expect to experience, how they will behave, and how they will interact with local residents and other travelers. Being thoughtful about how we use social media while traveling might take a bit more consideration than simply snapping photos of a #DreamDestination. However, that intentionality often results in more honest, contextualized and insightful posts—and it creates the conditions for others to have more responsible experiences too.