We see amazing pictures on many traveler’s social media accounts from their trips. Girls lounging on a beach in Thailand or couples sharing a cup of hot tea on the edge of a canyon. All are amazing pictures. And none of them depicts the reality of traveling!
When I find myself browsing the social media accounts of travelers I usually see amazing pictures. Most of them belong to women travelers, who can be seen on exotic beaches, rocking an amazing hairdo and minimal makeup. They are gorgeous!
But so far away from reality!
When I travel I am sweaty and dirty. I don’t have perfect hair, nor the perfect skin I see on Instagram accounts. On the other hand, I don’t have thousands of likes to my posts, either. Traveling is an experience! It makes you embark on unique adventures, which leave their marks on your soul. As you travel, you get to wear the same old shirt twice in a row, you get muddy, you get sweaty. Sometimes you don’t have enough water to wash your hair. You rarely put on makeup, because it probably triggers a horrible outbreak, when it meets the dirt and the sweat on your face.
I love to see perfectly-posed bikini-body pictures and I do think they are beautiful, but they are so, so fake! Most travelers I know have a messy, slightly dirty, bun and red cheeks, thanks to being under the elements. And a huge smile. They are so happy to enjoy the moment, that they forget their belly is too visible in the photos they take. And even if they remember, they don’t care!
When you are in a remote village from Austria you don’t care about your belly, you only care about the stunning environment.
By focusing to much on beauty when it comes to travel, we set unrealistic expectations for future travelers. More unrealistic expectations for women especially, because men are spoiled by the fake travel glam standards.
For men, having two day’s stubble or a long, bushy beard is everything they need to look perfect in their travel pictures. There is no pressure to have a perfect skin, no pressure to have perfect hair. No pressure to have the perfect bikini-body. They just have to enjoy themselves while traveling.
I heard a fellow traveler say she doesn’t want to post her Thailand photos because she is afraid people will bully her. She is small and chubby and she fears that her photos are not beautiful enough. After all, she is not a toned babe. And I am sure there are many more women like Claire, who are afraid of being themselves and enjoying who they are because of these crooked expectations.
The race to take the perfect glam travel picture makes some women wear inappropriate clothes in countries where they should dress with modesty. Instead of enjoying the moment, some travelers only hunt the perfect photo. They step over the local culture and they completely miss the beauty of traveling for the sake of a perfect photo.
Unfortunately, we are all contributing to this new trend, by awarding these pictures with loads of likes, while ignoring the pictures which show the reality of travel. We can change that, we can start to encourage travelers to show their real face, their real self. We have the power to show traveling is all about the experiences and emerging in different cultures, not about taking glossy-magazine-like pictures.