Social media and technology has done something strange to travel, making almost any destination look like a picturesque backdrop of perfection.
Sitting at your desk, a field of untouched tulips pops-up on your Instagram feed. You enjoy a brief fantasy full of adventure where you explore this serene location on your next getaway.
But is such a place a reality?
In short, the answer is yes and no.
There are beautiful untouched corners of the earth that will take your breath away, but those places are quickly diminishing, due in part to the explosive demands to take Instagram-worthy shots everywhere you go.
Problem is, thousands of other people saw the same picture and had the exact same idea to explore the field of tulips (most likely the province of Flevoland, Holland).
Take Trolltunga for example. This natural rock formation extending 2,300 feet above Ringedalsvatnet Lake in Norway was the epitome of a photo-op.
The stillness of the lake and the power of nature’s forces make for a sight to behold – but as the serene shot became more popular on social media, the frame became more occluded.
CNBC reports how, “a decade ago, fewer than 800 people a year traveled to Trolltunga. Next year, that figure’s expected to hit 100,000.”
The whole region around the lake, including the story of it’s formation, is rich with history and full of inspiring experiences.
But all that is lost when the primary focus of a vacation is to take an iconic picture thousands of other people have taken.
Bo Vibe, head of digital marketing at Fjord Tours, has seen this first hand, telling CNBC:
“Instagram has elevated the interest in the site that really no conventional marketing campaign can do. Getting the ‘selfie’ on the top becomes the end-all for many visitors.”
So now the destination you imagined as a place of solitude and discovery is set up like an amusement park.
Tourists wait in line for hours to get that Instagram-worthy selfie, then spend only mere minutes on the geological wonder.
You’d think there’d be a little more awe and reverence considering you can only get there by foot – and that hike is not for the faint of heart!
Trolltunga is not the only attraction that’s encountered the problem of being misrepresented on social media.
Tourists who have braved their way to the Great Wall of China post Instagram pictures of an infrastructure towering high above rolling bright green hills under a luminous sun.
The fact of the situation is that 10 million tourists visit the ancient walls every year, making it so crowded that you’re lucky to have enough room to extend your arm up to take a selfie.
Other Instagram pictures that give you misguided expectations include the Mona Lisa, Eiffel Tower, and the Empire State Building.
So now that you’re Googling the most remote areas on earth for your next family vacation, consider visiting these Intsa-popular places during the off seasons – or finding close alternatives that aren’t yet overrun.
And while looking at Instagram pictures is surely entertaining, don’t let it fool you into thinking you have a seat at some of the world’s most beautiful places all to yourself.
Please let us know if you have visited an attraction that was nothing like you thought it would be.