Instagram: Would we lie to you?

We launched our Instagram account a year ago, intending it simply to be a place to store our collection of travel photographs. Photography is what we enjoy the most and sharing it seemed natural.

We didn’t have any intention of building a following, or a clear idea of what the end goal would be. We liked looking at others’ travel photography and thought they might enjoy ours. It was that simple.

However, what has developed over the past twelve months is something much more than a collection of photos. It has become a travel lifestyle account portraying beautiful destinations and that all-too-familiar ‘wanderlust’ vibe.  Inspirational? We hope so and we do hope we inspire people to travel. Yet recently, as we’ve welcomed more followers, we’ve felt a little uneasy: are we portraying a lifestyle that doesn’t truly exist?

The thing about Instagram (and most social media) is that it makes you a bit of a liar – whether that’s intentional or not. This realisation crept up on us after receiving regular questions inquiring as to how we are able to travel so often and whether we are fabulously wealthy (no, unfortunately. We both work full time). Our Instagram had become a land of beautiful places, vibrant colours and implied freedom, which in reality, was just a very small part of our lives.

Perhaps, therefore, it’s time to set the record straight, rebel against the dreamy filters and suspiciously perfect lives possessed by so many ‘social media sorts’, and suggest that in reality, Instagram is a little bit of a cheat.

Here’s what we don’t tell you:

1)  When we’re posting those iconic  ‘plane wing’ photographs, we’re simultaneously  dying inside. We hate flying. Relaxed, confident travellers, we are not. Our travel bags usually consist of Kalms, Immodium, Gaviscon and Asprin (or in Laura’s case, straight up Valium).

2) When we’re  posting photos day-to-day, we’re probably just getting up or returning home from a  day at work. Maybe we’re stood in the supermarket, staring at cleaning products or lying in front of the TV. Most probably the alarm is going off and we have to be at work in an hour. Largely, though, we are not on a beach.

3)  Our lives have been difficult this year and it’s been far from a series of  holidays and carefree travels. Break-ups, anxiety, notice periods, fires, house moves, a murder next door (yep) and the realities of life, have all featured as the months have rolled past. Life is unpredictable and often difficult. An Instagram account won’t change that.

4) Travel is expensive. There is no way around that. We work full time and juggle mortgages with plane tickets. Each trip has to be thought out carefully: how to do it on the cheap and can we afford it? Our content on Instagram isn’t sponsored and we haven’t looked into advertising , which whilst being something we’ve deliberately maintained, means we don’t hot-foot it around the world for 52 weeks of the year. But that’s OK with us.

5) Sometimes we don’t like travelling. Sometimes we just want to be in our own beds. Sometimes Claire would rather be at home with her fiance. Sometimes Laura would like to be at home with her imaginary boyfriend.

So why does this all matter? This comes back to the original reason that inspired us to set up our blog and is something that we covered in our very first blog post: ‘What Makes a Traveller?’

The internet is littered with travel blogs, travel vlogs, travel related Instagram accounts and a small circle of travel blog royalty. We’ve always enjoyed reading this content and it’s often inspired us to visit new locations and places.

Yet, so much of the ‘travel’ depicted on these platforms depends on one type of traveller: a glamorous, ambitious, confident young man or woman, unphased by the stressful realities of travel and willing to spend months apart from family and friends. Apparently nothing worries this sort of traveller. They can go anywhere at a moment’s notice and embrace any culture. They are part of that rising breed of ‘digital nomads’ who call the world their home.

We aren’t these sorts of travellers. Furthermore, we never will be. As mentioned, travel can make us anxious and feel stressed. We like to plan our travel carefully and to know what we can expect. We travel inside a strict budget and prefer a museum-based city break to endless white stretches of beach. Sometimes, we get home from a trip and lie on our sofas, happy to be home, surrounded by the familiar and everyday.

However, does that mean we are not considered ‘travellers’? We hope not. We are enjoying seeing the world, albeit in our own, uniquely neurotic way. We have always hoped that this outlook encourages others to travel and to travel in a way they want to, when they want to. Travel is for everyone and includes both the good and bad. This is something we always hope to reflect.


10 comments so far.

10 responses to “Instagram: Would we lie to you?”

  1. Victoria says:

    Loved this post, I love travelling and follow many travel blogs, and I often can’t help but wonder whether there is a real intention to trick other people into believing their lives are always perfect. Thank you!

  2. Angela says:

    I actually do like seeing that people are living normal lives. I’ve been getting annoyed and depressed, seeing pictures from gorgeous beaches, from different places over the country, or the world. I can’t do that,and may never be able to.

  3. I love this post. I think any blogger that displays any aspect of their life has to walk a fine line of posting what people want to see/read (because duh, supply and demand) and still keeping it real. Yeah, no one wants to see an Instagram of taking out the trash, because it’s something we all do. It’s boring and reminds us that there’s unpleasant parts of life we have to deal with.

    We seek out the pretty and the exotic and the funny on Instagram because… well it’s like reading a book. You just want something that’s not YOUR real life for that moment. Something that isn’t bills or laundry, but also something you can relate to. Travel bloggers appeal to people who enjoy going new places – of course those people don’t want to see photos of your messy living room. They have their own messy living room! But if you go to somewhere they’d like to go to, then it’s a snapshot of hope that one day, they could be there too, looking at the same view.

    I would question who was ACTUALLY living in reality if a person thinks that what they see on Instagram or blogs is ALL the photography/blogger does. No one spends their entire life traveling while ignoring all the trappings of real life (bills, etc.). Not even National Geographic photographers. They may bring us amazing photos from Africa, but we don’t see the 3 weeks they sat on a hillside waiting for that photo while getting ate up by bugs and contracting malaria. They aren’t required to share that with us, either, because common sense dictates that for every beautiful picture shared, there were numerous outtakes, the unpleasant travel to get there, the expense, the time away from family, etc.

    So to finish off this long ramble, I commend you for reminding people that reality still exists, but please don’t feel like you owe anything to people who aren’t in touch with reality enough to know that on their own.

    • The Twins says:

      Thank you Stephanie! So glad you liked it and maybe you’re right about not owing it to anyone, it seems you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t!

  4. Wow. Love the honesty. Truly refreshing. I don’t see anything wrong with using Instagram as your travel photobook. You don’t need to explain that to anyone . Keep it real (or not – haha)! 😉

  5. This is a beautiful, well-articulated post! I can definitely relate to things from all sides of your post. As a college student and having to start thinking about the future very seriously, finance is becoming more and more real. It’s really quite stressful, but reading this post made me feel like I wasn’t alone with it. As well as the fact that you both love being home sometimes are are okay not being able to travel the world all year- it’s comforting 🙂

    This is so real– so much respect. You go girls!


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