Impossible travel goals, irresponsible travel – What is Instagram community actually promoting

Impossible travel goals, irresponsible travel – What is Instagram community actually promoting

A few weeks back, Indian travel blogger couple, Vishnu Viswanath and Meenakshi Moorthy fell to their deaths in the Yosemite National Park in California. Reports said that it was in an attempt to take a selfie that caused their deaths.

This is not the only report.

Instagram and its tone of content has created an environment where travel photographers feel no problem going to impossible lengths in order to to create content. This is why you’ll notice that the videos of people taking dip in ice cold Zanskar River during Chadar Trek or a bunch of kids running over walls of Amer Fort get more popular than random clicks and informative content.

Instagram has ruined traveling, like it has ruined eating. Cup of tea overlooking a mountain or a valley, is how camping is perceived. A long distance click from the suicide point of Kinnaur has become a mandatory part of everybody’s itinerary, so much that now there are long lines just for one photo.







When an Instagrammer with 30k followers talks about how travel loan from a bank helped her plan a trip to Europe and presents it in such a way that makes other consider going to those lengths too because someone they idolize has done it already.

Recently, I told a photographer that their pics are dangerous and anyone can fall to death trying to copy it. Their reply was that they are Instagram experts and know how to do it. Know what? How to put their life in danger for the sake of a few likes? All is fun and games until someone falls and breaks a few bones.

Zanskar River freezes in winter season and temperature goes down to -30 degree. People take dips, record their videos and upload them on social media hoping that their stunt will go viral. No one wonders that this is not healthy, environment friendly and can be a cause of death if the stunt goes wrong. No one accuses travel companies for being irresponsible and instead, more people are now going on that trek because they want similar videos.




This year in January, I almost burned myself trying to document a fire dancing ritual. In an attempt to click a larger than life photo, a huge chunk of fire fell right next to me.

A pic from Varanasi went viral recently where the photographer clicked a burning pyre with the dead person’s legs clearly in the shot. It is not only insensitive but in the future, it will also prompt others to get similar shots.










Recently, the platform has seen an increase in the number of GoPro shots of a person sitting on a train’s door. The portrait of a man (or a woman) sitting still as the world goes by looks very powerful. But think of a missed step and the causality that will happen in moments.


The photos of mountains are always supposed to have clouds, a little fog and an impressive sunset. Any of the factors missing means that their trip was incomplete. I saw this happening at Hampta Pass trek where the sunset stayed hidden due to insane amount of fog. A lot of people left back to the base because they perfect shot didn’t come alive.



Last year, I saw a fellow trekker falling and injuring himself after a failed attempt to click Valley of Flowers from a height to show the whole area.

Instagram creates unrealistic travel expectations. Photographers over edit their photos and remove unwanted objects from their pics to make them look more than real. Recently at Hornbill festival, it was really common to hear backpackers talk about how a certain instagrammer got shots with almost nothing in background while their shots end up having a speaker or a tree or a group of people enjoying the act. Their expectation of the festival had already reached a different level days or may be weeks in advance. So when they got to the venue and found a chance to click the portraits by themselves, they ended up being disappointed.

Thanks to one app, the idea of travelling has become predictable. People travel to Dawki to click a boat floating over the transparent river, visit Spiti to get the shot of Key Monastery from a distance, when they go to Goa, their bottle of beer is always pointed towards the sunset, a picture taken from a certain Mcleodganj Café is how the whole idea of travelling is supposed to be. No one looks forward to expecting the unexpected because the mental projection is already fixed to one reality and one reality only and when it doesn’t happen in the way they imagined or saw on Instagram, they end up being disappointed.

Disclaimer 1 – I don’t intend to blame Instagram in this post but the community that has set unrealistic goals for travel photography

Disclaimer 2 – The photos that I have used from the respective profiles, I hope it doesn’t offend them

Disclaimer 3 – At times, I have been responsible for clicking similar shots taken here in this pic so I am not a saint compared to others


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This Post Has 39 Comments

  1. I would like to think people would not risk their lives for likes but I’m not naive to the fact that it happens. Its always incredibly sad and easily forgotten until the next person passes. Thanks for bringing awareness to this

  2. Naamiyah

    Yeah it reminds of something I watch the other day of this young lady climbing up a tall building by a ladder to get some views on social media. One slip up she would of fees to her death. Honest, I think it’s foolish for people to risk their lives just to get some attention, or prove a point. Stop testing the creator Yah.

  3. BeaufyFoodymom

    Wow this looks like such great trips! And yeah a lot of times Instagram travel by some IGere are sponsored or Collab’s with hotels and flight companies!

  4. I think this was very well put. A lot of people are risking ( and losing) their lives to get that epic shot and it is so sad! and taking out travel loans? that sounds like a terrible idea!

  5. Patricia-Ann Que

    as much as it is fun to travel explore, I think it is equally important to know the history and respect its grounds. very good write up and I wish people will be more aware! I grew up in Phuket Thailand and we always get a lot of tourists so I understand

  6. People are sometimes dumb when it comes to getting the perfect photo. They need to stop and think more before risking their life.

  7. Carla Necole

    I agree that some of these shots are uber dangerous. However, I can’t blame IG for people leaving their common sense out of the equation. We have built in inhibitions for a reason. And priorities should be evaluated…my life or this nice pic?

  8. Joanna

    It is a bit crazy that people are copying Instagram photos and risk their lives for a shot that it worthless. I actually didn’t know about this phenomenon until a recent seminar I took, where it was shown how many pictures taken in the same way are there on Instagram.

  9. this1mommytries

    This was an eye opening article, however I think as long as we value popularity on a social media platform the risk is always going to be there. There just needs to be more articles explaining the risk so it becomes just as popular.

  10. Sigrid Says

    I have read about that couple at the Yosemite Park. So sad. And these other photos are really crazy. Oh my gosh, I will not risk my life and my family for these shots.

  11. dhall39

    This is a great article. I experienced something similar this week when a tourist on the side of a mountain in Peru was blocking the path and barged someone out of the way just to get a good picture of himself, and I’ll be writing about considering other people’s safety in my next blog. Everyone needs to read this, your Instagram photos are never more important than yours or other people’s safety!

  12. dhall39

    This is a great post! I was in a similar situation the other day when a tourist in Peru was blocking a very narrow mountain path and tried to barge someone out the way to get a great photo. People need to realise that their photos are not as important as their own, or other’s safety. Every traveller should read this!

  13. Ng Ee Sing

    I’ve always told my friends “Safety first’. Whats the point of getting a beautiful photo where you have to risk your life for it. The unrealistic expectation that has been set with all those editting has lead to dissapointment when I arrive at one place to find it look completely different from the photos I see on instragram.

  14. paddockfamily4

    EXCELLENT post. As bloggers, we need to be responsible- not just for ourselves but for those who we hope to influence. Saying “I’m an expert” with blatant disregard for your followers who are NOT is very irresponsible.

  15. TheSuperMomLife

    This makes me so sad. I had heard of a similar tragedy recently. It’s all about getting the best pic, sadly. But I wish people would think of their safety above all else. Our lives aren’t worth that perfect image.

  16. Thanks for writing this. It’s an issue I try to address as much as possible, and will actually be speaking a bit about it at a conference next year. We need to be better as content creators at promoting safe, responsible travel that makes travel and outdoor adventure sustainable. Social media is truly the sharpest double edged sword out there, and it’s impossible to be perfect, but at the very least we can pledge to learn and to try.

  17. Sydney | A World in Reach

    It seems like every week I read a new story of someone dying because they were trying to get that perfect shot. Thanks for sharing this post – it was very informative! I can’t believe that person brushed off your comment and said that they’re “experts.” They may be so-called experts, but they can’t predict what could happen if they take a wrong step or if the wind blows too hard!

  18. Debby

    I agree with your post about Instagram encouraging the unreal. I prefer the more normal pictures of someone cooking dinner or traveling. Something that I could easily do. It is not worth risking your life when you need to do it again in a few weeks to keep your “likes” coming. We need more realness.

  19. therunaway

    You totally have a point in this post. One part of the story is when people risk their lives to take a photo, another is when they cause damage to nature just to earn few more likes. It breaks my heart to see some ‘travel bloggers’ taking pictures standing on the reef or holding fragile animals in their hands. So irresponsible!

  20. Bilal Hussain

    People sometimes go too far for a good story or a famous post. That is the downside of social media. The key is to find a balance and make smart decisions. You’ve made some fantastic points, thanks for sharing

  21. Nina

    This is such a good post! I love the message it shares and think this is vital for many people to understand.

  22. Angela

    Interesting take. I definitely have seen instances of situations you described where it’s like, oh my gosh! It’s just a photo. To each their own I guess, but safety and authenticity trump aesthetic for me.

  23. AnythingRad.Com

    I guess there is so much social pressure going on right now in the community – to be able to attain a certain standard.. and ifnot claimed, would lead to disappointment. It’s good that someone like you have addressed this. It’s refreshing to look back and see how far the social media has made our lives predictable/easier/ or even misleading.

  24. I completely agree with your post. In the age of social media, people explore less and click more. No picture can describe the purest pleasure of traveling.

  25. Anisha

    It’s quite an interesting topic. Social media can be misleading at times and far from the truth of traveling. Clicking pictures is a good way to document an experience but it shouldn’t come at the cost of ones life.

  26. amayszingblogs

    It’s not okay to risk your life to capture perfect photos! sometimes other people can’t handle themselves about using social media this is so aware. great topic!

  27. Enriqueta Lemoine

    Great, great post. I’m a food blogger and I’m always in conflict with the way we portray life on IG. Thank you so much for caring and sharing.

  28. anuseth17

    This is so true. People have actually forgotten the real essence of traveling. They actually travel to take photos and show it off on social media

  29. Becca Wilson

    Instagram definitely makes me want to go and see destinations but they all look so good to be true. I feel like there needs to be more “real” stuff shared of places to visit.

  30. Alexander Popkov

    Not sure that Instagram really is a problem, it is just a photo share. I personally almost never use my insta, although I am a photographer. Maybe I am in my own bubble… communicating with people who look for experiences rather than cool insta shots.

  31. Teja

    The initial travellers who thought of the popular shots were likely just inspired or having fun. But the issue is the people who copy – and it’s sad to think about why.

    I always try to explain to people that, travelling courageously, authentically, is how you get in a position where adventure happens and images like this can come to you by itself. It’s not the other way around. A unique and adventurous life – and subsequently you as a person – doesn’t happen because you took a picture that looks like one taken by someone who really is.

    I think influencers who promote the message of ‘I’m awesome and you can be just like me’ are no different from the personalities marketing questionable products on the strength of people’s insecurities. The truly inspirational say, ‘This is me becoming me and it feels good. What would it look like, for you to become you?’

    1. ansh997x

      I totally agree with you. I started taking photos of doors and windows in 2014 and now it has become a fad.

  32. nottaholiday

    So with you on this….not to mention the delusion that they add something to the scene. Quite the opposite imho

  33. Viaje ni Bree

    It’s hard to find authentic travel in this era. I definitely agree that Instagrammers nowadays show unrealistic travel expectations. They are the ones that mostly gone viral. It’s sad and a lot of people should be aware of this.

    1. ansh997x

      Totally agree. Instagram has ruined the experience of traveling.