Not that long ago, the majority of the world was not privy to obscure and far away lands like Slovakia or Estonia. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone in your orbit who had been to Budapest, let alone Bratislava, Slovakia. How many people did you know who had whitewater rafted in Jaco, Costa Rica? Now, with the onslaught of #travelgoals, you have tons and tons of “wanderlusters” who make it their mission to go to the places that “no one” has really been to. In doing so, they turned so many places into tourists traps.
Gone are the days of real wander and meaningful travel bucket lists. Social media is saturated with accounts galore dedicated to the #travellife. Sure, we’re guilty of it ourselves here at OMPT. However, during some of our most recent travels, we have found that desire once more to be in the moment. We stopped taking so many pictures for our social media accounts, and decidedly took them for ourselves. You’d be surprised at the amount of photos we have from our last major trip; South America, which we have yet to share online – and that trip happened nearly 5 months ago!
It wasn’t that long ago that Iceland failed to grace most travel bucket lists. People rarely visited supremely cold places or hard to get to quarries en masse. Only a handful of years ago was Rainbow Mountain discovered in the mountains of Peru – yet you have thousands making the arduous trek up the side of an Andean mountain while in high elevation of 16k feet above sea level just to gaze upon the colorful mountain and take the obligatory selfie (most likely hiding the pain of the difficult hike through a big and fake smile). That’s not to throw any shade by the way, one of us (Eldris) made that trek and the other (ME) didn’t. It’s crazy hard due to the elevation.
When Myspace was the social media giant, its users were focused on their Top 8, which song would play when people visited their page and who liked and commented on their photos – selfies weren’t even a big thing back then! Today, Instagram, arguably the best social media platform out, has launched the #influencers movement/careers. And turned travel into a sport. The endlessly curated photos that are being uploaded daily show you a world filled with beauty and adventure. The captions are usually some cliche inspirational quote or song lyric to show “depth.”
Behind those photos, there’s usually a story. A real story, one that isn’t curated or heavily filtered to make you jealous or have #FOMO. The real stories aren’t always pretty. These wanderlusters don’t want you know that it took 27 tries before they got the right photo. They don’t want you to know that they probably stopped off to the side to look through their apps to find the right one that had the right filters. Nor do they want you to know that they sometimes Photoshop people out of the photos because they finally realized they weren’t going to get the photo without the throngs of people in front of the main tourist attraction.
For every selfie you see with Machu Picchu in the background, there’s plenty of out of focus shots or photos with a stranger or two or ten getting in your shot. There’s a likely chance you’re probably also featured in someone else’s majestic Incan ruin photo – ruining it. Rarely do you see people taking in the sights anymore. Just about everyone has their cameras or phones out taking photo after photo. Naturally, we all want to preserve the moment, the memory. While there’s nothing wrong with that, traveling in the age of social media has made it feel less meaningful.
For us, maybe it has something to do with the fact that we have been feeling uninspired lately to travel. Maybe it is because we just can’t garner the same enthusiasm within ourselves that we once had when planning prior trips. Something just feels different now. While we haven’t stopped searching for amazing travel deals, nor have we stopped looking for that #travelinspo itinerary that will shock our system once more, we realize that looking at photos on social media of Reykjavik or Bali no longer hold that same wonder they once did. Seeing the repeated poses over and over again at The Leaning Tower of Pisa – (yes we did the same poses too when we went in 2015 sorry!), makes most people roll their eyes.
We hope that the next iteration of the travel resurgence is marked more by the real stories behind the photos and less so for the buzz the overly curated lifestyle people post it to be. Do your research before visiting a new place, don’t just go solely based off of what an “influencer” wants you to believe these places are. Find a real reason to visit a place, whether it’s just to relax and unwind, or to venture out and experience life as a local. Reasons to travel abound. No one should go broke trying to promote a crazy travel life on social media.
We began OMPT as a means to show our peers and those who probably didn’t feel represented within the travel community, that it was possible to work a 9-5 and still travel the world – on a budget. Somewhere along the way, we too got lost in the social media content saturation. We’d like to correct that by going back to basics. Our content will reflect our initial intent. We’ll share more of the real stories behind our photos, behind our travels.