Yes, People Are Actually Choosing Vacations Just To Get Instagram Likes


Well, here we are. We’ve reached the moment in time where folks are traveling to fabulous far-off lands based on the number of likes they expect to receive on their Instagram posts.

New research shows people are traveling just for the ‘gram and it bums us out.

study from the University of Georgia examined how social media affects travelers’ destination preferences. Previous data showed around 64 percent of millennials choose vacations based on what they see on Instagram, but this new survey suggests social media plays a more nuanced role than simply liking the look of a destination.

There are a several ways we see the effects, according to the study. There are the “bandwagon” tourists; those are the people who decide to go to a place heavily featured in their social feeds. And we all know some travel “snobs.” They’re the ones who think Croatia was so 2016. But both types of traveler anticipates a good “social return” (AKA, how many people like and comment on a post) when planning their vacations.

Travelers are “keenly aware of the social value of their travel and that not all travel experiences are evaluated equally,” according to the study.

A post shared by Sara Melotti (@saramelotti_) on

So how do people decide what’s cool enough to get those precious likes? It goes back to what we see posted on social media from travel writers and bloggers, and those lucky ducks who took the leap to quit their jobs to travel the world. AKA, influencers.

But you guys, influencers are all going to the same places and taking the same pics. Literally, the same poses in the exact same locations – they’ve told us this.

Travel blogger Sara Melotti revealed the insider tricks of Instagram in her confessional tell-all, saying, “When I go to places that haven’t been shot before, trying to do something new and different, the picture tanks almost every time.”

So they all keep going to the same spots to keep earning likes. And we all follow in their footsteps, wearing down (sometimes literally) the tourist trail.

But sometimes these gold standard Instagram spots aren’t that cool. A lot of the magic is done in post-production, with influencers using photo filters in Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop to focus on making the shot fit their aesthetic – not accurately representing what people will find IRL.

Think of the infamous Bahamian pink sand beaches. They’re actually just barely tinted peach. There are influencers out there misleading you with their pics.

Successful travel influencer duo Lauren Bullen and Jack Morris created an Instagram account to illustrate just how much photos can differ from reality. The handle is dedicated to before-and-after versions of their curated travel photos – an eye-opening slideshow of glossing over bad lighting and changing color composition.

And while a little bit of polish might seem like a little white lie, it messes with our expectations. This is especially the case when so many travel decisions are made based on these touched-up posts.

If we’re all following our social feeds around the globe, we’ll end up experiencing the exact same vacation itineraries, chasing down the same tried and true Instagramable moments.

We love having our Insta feeds filled with gorgeous travel porn. We love seeing our friends’ pics from abroad and bloggers’ tripspiration. But please, let’s not go so far down the rabbit hole of likes that we forget why we travel in the first place. Travel isn’t just about posting photos for our friends to see how cool we are. We travel to experience something new.