Travel is MORE Than Your Inflated Ego

Let me start by saying y’all might want to grab yourself a cup of tea, a comfortable seat, and sit back for this one.

I will first start out and say that I am also guilty of the travel inflated ego syndrome. My photos on Instagram and social media are curated to show the best parts of my trips and adventures. I won’t post a photo that I find to be “ugly” or not part of my Instagram feed aesthetic. And yes, the likes, comments, and shares on my social media posts related to travel, boost my ego. I am guilty of being a hypocrite. But, one thing I know is true is my message about travel.

Now, travel is so much more than your inflated ego and your social media posts. Travel is more than the lavish lifestyle that you try to keep up with. It is more than the likes, the status, or the shallow and punny comments to capture a beautiful shot. Why do YOU travel?

Why do you travel?

If you take away all of the “extra” that surrounds us, why do you travel? Why do you spend your hard earned money on this activity? What about travel makes you excited to get in the car and drive somewhere new? Lately, when I scroll through social media, I always leave with an immense and heavy feeling of FOMO. I feel a pang of jealousy for all of the people who are jet-setting off to new places, trying new foods, and looking good while doing it. The envy that builds inside me is ugly.

So, I started to compare my trips to theirs. I wanted to travel faster, wanted to see the whole world and post about it. I copied Instagram shots I saw other travel influencers doing, so I could get the hundreds of likes and comments. I wanted people to look at my social media accounts and think that I was living the good life! And then I felt like I was missing the whole point about what travel was. During my trips, I barely enjoyed myself because I wanted to get the perfect shot or Snapchat, or whatever. I felt fake because I was mimicking how other people traveled.

That is not why I travel. To me, spending my hard earned money on this activity is worth it! I travel because I want to humble myself. There are beautiful landscapes and cityscapes to be seen. Different and interesting flavors and spices to try. There’s a different way of life when I step outside of my bubble. I travel to learn, to get off my high horse, and to make connections and build relationships.

What does it mean to you?

“Travel” sounds like the biggest buzz word at the moment. Everyone wants to do it! If you aren’t traveling, then someone’s telling you, you need to. What would it mean to you if you did travel? Why would you do it? There are so many different answers, because we all travel for different reasons and have different motives. But, the act of traveling is a privilege, and I never want to make it seem like I am an “elite” because I have the privilege of traveling when someone else doesn’t. So, when we get those hundreds of likes on social media, what does it mean to you?

Travel means keeping an open mind, always learning, and not letting fear stop me. It means that I work harder to be able to travel more. To me, travel is a means to heal, to step out of my comfort zone and come back with a fresh pair of eyes. The social media posts that surround travel are really obsolete when I think about it, because in the end, no social media post can truly convey what it means. When I’m out exploring and wandering through new streets, people watching, and trying to take part in a different culture, I feel in my element. I am ready to learn and meet different people that make me question what I’ve been taught! What does it mean to you?

What have I learned?

I’ve learned that no matter where I travel to, near or far, it’s always a different experience. Nothing compares to being yelled at or whispered about walking down the streets of a small town in Spain because I am Asian. How can I describe the vastness of the Cliffs of Moher and the winds that whipped through my hair, when I felt like I could’ve been blown off? Can the camaraderie in an Irish Pub be imitated anywhere else? The kindness and hospitality I’ve felt from complete strangers who welcomed me into their home like I was part of their family; can that be measured in social media posts? I don’t think anything feels as good as a cold beer and sharing a tapa with your group of friends in the amazing Spanish sun.

I’ve learned that a kind heart and an open mind can take you pretty far. Travel has taught me that most people want to be understood and that we all want to feel like we belong somewhere. It’s taught me that the more I visit different cities or countries, home is definitely more of a feeling than a place. I’ve learned that each traveler has a different experience based on race, religion, gender, etc. I’ve also learned that we’re all a bit more connected than we believe. What has travel taught you?


When did travel become more about the perfect Instagram shot, the punniest caption, or showing people how cool you are because you’re in exotic places? Travel is a way to connect with people, with cultures, and kick your ego to the curb. Why do you travel? What has it taught you? What have you learned? All of the places I’ve been to, the things that stick out to me the most are the adventures I had between the photos. It wasn’t about what I was able to capture on my social media outlets. It was about the people I met along the way or the people I came with. For me, it’s always been about deepening relationships, creating connections, and humbling myself to someone else’s culture.

I’m taking a stand on this “Instagram Travel” lifestyle. I’m rebelling against the picture perfect lifestyles I keep seeing that never focus on the experiences between each photo, each Snapchat, or the documented moments. I’m taking back my experiences and I want to share them with y’all. If you’re tired of feeling FOMO every time you open any social media account, this rebellion is for you, too!

What does travel mean to you? Why do you travel?

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Travel is more than your inflated ego, the viral social media posts, or the envy that people feel towards your lifestyle. Get off your high horse! -- The Quirky Pineapple
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Liked this post? You might like these, too:
Why You SHOULD Travel
Traveling is a Privilege and I Am Privileged
Letting Go of Jealousy: We Need Strong Women
How Travel Heals Me

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45 thoughts on “Travel is MORE Than Your Inflated Ego”

  1. Thank you, Jasmine! I am also guilty of “making things look good for social media”, too. I do love a great photo! I also have a few friends that travel that way, and although everyone has a different travel style and motive for traveling, I think it’s important to recognize that there is more to it than social media posts… it’s also about experiencing something that we normally wouldn’t on a regular basis!

    I love traveling for the same exact reasons that you listed! To learn more about other people, cultures, make connections, and learn more about myself. I think it’s a humbling experience to go somewhere else and see how they live and then come back and reexamine my own life.

  2. Thank you, Meghan! It’s been a struggle lately as I’m trying to not care too much about posting on social media or letting it consume me!

  3. Whoops, I got excited and posted the comment too soon lol but I totally agree with you! I think the trip definitely makes you and changes you in some way.

  4. This is something I struggle with, too… it’s been hard to build a following and be real at the same time because I feel like sometimes people don’t even read my captions! I think what you’re doing by sharing interesting facts, cultural aspects, or more of where you are visiting is a great way to share your journey and experiences while also informing and teaching the audience! (: I’m sure there are other people out there who enjoy traveling the way you do, and would really appreciate captions that explain more about the culture, politics, and history!

  5. This article was perfect in so many ways! Though I’m sure I am guilty of “making things look good for social media” more than once, I currently have a friend who seems as if they travel for the sole purpose of posting photographs. This puts into words exactly what I was thinking.

    But reading this also made me take a minute to remember what made me love travel in the first place: to learn more about other people, cultures, make connections, and learn a little more about myself in the process.

  6. I fully agree with your points ! Somebody said “I don’t make a trip; the trip makes you”. I am convinced that we are lifelong learners and we can reach our full potential through continuous exploration the world and its many cultures…

  7. Very good points. I struggle with how to build a following and show pics people want to see vs being real which for me means being a complete dork and getting very wrapped up in culture, politics, history, etc. I try to share interesting facts behind the pretty pics as much as possible. Any advice?

  8. Oh gosh, that’s a really tough question, especially considering that we are both influencers. I think it really boils down to what type of person you are and what social media means to you, as well. For example, it’s hard for me to be connected ALL OF THE TIME because I’m just not that type of person. I follow other bloggers and influencers who seem to always be snapping or instagram story-ing (I made that word up) their activities. I think if that works for them and their audience, that’s totally fine. For me, I can’t do that because I feel like I miss out on a lot of what’s going on. I still definitely try to get in some shots for my audience so they can experience things as I am, but for the most part, I try to enjoy the moment and take pictures sparingly.

    Another thing I think is super important while trying to build a following but still enjoying yourself and your travels, is by being honest. Not just honest about what we’re doing, but honest about the experiences we’ve had, the stories we’ve collected, the relationships we have built. The honesty can really inspire someone to want to do something like that on their own. Of course, I wouldn’t say bare your soul out to the world (unless you want to) and are comfortable sharing a lot of information, but letting your audience know if something is tough for you this week. Things like that. Now I feel like I’m rambling a bit haha but I think social media is a great tool, it just becomes a bit skewed when we try to pretend that everything’s perfect when it really isn’t. Hope that makes sense!

  9. I’d have to agree with all your points about what travel can bring to our lives, how it can enrich us as individual people, and not needing to show off while doing it. One of the truer travelers I ever met, a bloke named Jason, traveled to well over a 100 countries on virtually no money and he didn’t have any social media accounts at all. His example showed me a purer spirit of travel that it sounds like something you wanna move towards. So here’s a conundrum I’ll be watching your answer to very closely…how to travel around and build a following without overdoing the social media scheme. Hopefully you’ll set an example for everybody out there in doing so!

  10. Yes, I totally agree! I actually used to think that if I didn’t leave my city, I wasn’t “traveling”. But now, I love taking little trips around my hometown to see more of what I never saw before, plus being over 21, I can now try different bars and restaurants!

    I read through the blog and it was an interesting read! Thanks for sharing, Audrey!

  11. For me, travel is about keeping an open mind and learning as well! I find that with this mindset, you can find the beauty in anything. I think it’s so important to be present, to always be filled with wonder and never take anything for granted. We often see people boasting lavish travels on social media, but I think travel can definitely be done on a budget as well; you can travel within your own city! I know that there’s still so much of Philly I have yet to see. I think you’d enjoy this blog post by Zen Habits called “The Mindfulness of Social Photo Sharing” 🙂 -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

  12. Yes! I love this, Allison! (: I hope that you will decide to join the Instagram Rebellion and open up the conversation with your audience!

  13. Hahahaha, saggy and 80, I love that! Yes, photography is definitely part of the job and I do love taking photos to remember the trip, but like you said, it’s important to remind ourselves to be present and enjoy the moment as well (:

  14. Nicole, that’s exactly how I feel! I get FOMO quite a lot when I am scrolling through Instagram or social media in general, but then I realize that I am very privileged to travel and want to find a way to help others do the same!

  15. I love your tag line! I love this and your message!! (: I’d love for you to join the movement if you’d like to!!

  16. Yes! I’d love for you to join the movement and lend your voice to the conversation! (: I will check out your blog post!

  17. Erica,

    I actually thought about this when I was writing this post and designing this movement. I didn’t want someone who was a photographer to feel like I was hating on their craft, because photography is something that I admire so much! I also travel to capture beautiful moments or landscapes through photos because I can turn back on them and be reminded of a specific moment on my trip. I highly doubt that you are one of “those” people, and I also hate using the term “those” people because it makes me feel like I am saying I’m better than someone for not doing the mainstream thing. I think we all get caught in the social media race of wanting to get many likes and lots of followers (I know I do), but sometimes it’s nice to step away from all of that and just enjoy a moment!

    I also hate to use the word “authentic” because it seems like everyone is using it these days, so, I’ll have to describe this in a different way haha! I think if something were our passion, or it runs in our blood, we’d do it because we love it; not because we want someone to see it and praise us for it. For example, I am a caretaker for sure. It’s my passion to take care of people and help them feel like they belong, but I don’t think I’d go around and try to capture something like that on Instagram all the time or social media, maybe on occasion, but I’d do it because I love it! If I did decide to capture something like that, it’d be to inspire, encourage, and motivate someone else to give it a try or step out of their comfort zone.

    I hope this makes sense, I don’t want to sound like an arrogant person who is trying to tell people how to travel and how not to travel. Or why they travel is wrong if it’s not MY reason of traveling. I think we all have our motives and what drives us, and as long as we are doing it for ourselves because we LOVE doing it, than that’s a good enough reason.

    Long response! I’d love to get your thoughts!

  18. Ariana,

    Thanks! I think joining a collective movement to talk about this is important because like they say, we’re stronger together than we are alone. I totally agree about living authentically by example will help others to see that, but sometimes if someone isn’t a travel blogger or a social media influencer, it’s hard to always think that influencers also live “normal” every day lives that consist of some tough stuff at times.

    Although I’m sure there are some influencers who feel the stress and pressure of always capturing the perfect moment, I think it’s nice to hear from someone that you follow on social media, that there is always more to the story and more to the adventure than what can be captured on an Instagram shot. It’s a collective moment for all of us to invite our audiences and others to share a funny story, an adventure, a mishap, or a lesson on what travel has taught us or why we do travel to inspire and encourage a thoughtful and honest conversation.

    I would love for you to take part in this movement if you’d like to!

  19. Thank you, Christina! It’s definitely a struggle and something that I continue to work through every day. It’s hard not to compare our “every day lives” to what we see on social media, but I think having an open conversation about it is something that can make change or at least let someone else know that it’s not always perfect in between those Instagram squares!

  20. Ameeta,

    Ah, I’m sure the experience you had in Mexico was amazing! I have only been to Cancun, but that’s where all the college students go for Spring Break… haha. I’d love to experience the beautiful culture, colors, and ambiance that the country has to offer! Keep doing what you’re doing and I hope you will take part in the #travelismorethaninstagram rebellion! (:


  21. Meg, YES! Social media perfectionism, especially as millennials or people in this generation, is something I think we all struggle with. I’ve had some bad days where I have sat there and compared myself to someone else’s highlight reel and then went and scrolled through my own Instagram account feeling sorry for myself. I think celebrating authenticity is a great way to go about it, but also being open about the hardships of travel or whatever else is happening in life can garner us meaningful relationships, especially when everyone thinks that we live a picture perfect lifestyle, when we probably don’t!

  22. Yes! Thank you! (: There is definitely not a “right way” to travel and I really tried to sound like I was telling people “how to travel”, but I agree that a post on social media can never mean more than the quality and learning that a trip or adventure can provide you!

  23. This is a great comment and I can resonate with a lot of what you said. I believe that we are all looking for some universal truth, as well, whether that be the “meaning of life” or what “happiness” means, we’re all looking for something. I think stepping outside of our bubbles and exploring a bit more of how someone on the other side of the pond lives is important because it can broaden our mindsets and our thoughts.

  24. Love your reasons for traveling. It is definitely about stepping out of your comfort zone and being able to share a new activity with someone you care about is all the better (:

  25. Same! I loved using Snapchat and Instagram stories in the beginning because I wanted to show people what was going on. Then, it started consuming what I was doing and I was barely paying attention to my own surroundings! I try to snap some photos and videos while I can in the beginning, and then leave my phone in my bag for the rest of the time.

  26. Thank you, Julie! Omg, you got tickets twice to the Hirshhorn Museum?! I could barely snag any tickets and my sister and I tried at least 4 different times! I love the reasons why you travel. It’s great to take photos, but never forget to live in the moment! I think Instagram is a wonderful platform, but I also think that the comparison that comes with it and the influence it has been having on the travel industry can be a bit negative.

  27. Loved this post! Travel is about making memories with my husband so we have stories to talk about when we’re old and saggy at 80 haha. I think it’s hard not to get caught up with photography because that’s part of our job, but it’s important to keep reminding ourselves to be present and cherish the moment 🙂

  28. This is a great post. I find myself getting FOMO a lot and I have to remind myself that I am super privileged to be able to travel at all.

  29. I agree with this so much. “Travel means keeping an open mind, always learning, and not letting fear stop me” is exactly what it’s always about. That’s how I came up with my tag line… ‘never a grown up, because I’m always growing’… because I am always traveling, which means I am always learning and growing… thats what it is all about to me.

  30. I’ve thought about this a lot since we talked last weekend and I’m stumped. Yes, I travel for my senses, my feels, my mind. I love experiencing those unique cultural moments you mentioned. But, I’m a professional photographer by trade. Photography is in my blood. So, maybe one of the biggest reasons I travel is for the photos. Does that make me one of “those” people? If so, how do I change that while staying true to my passion?

  31. I like your perspective, your “a ha” moment and as you say we are all guilty of some of the things you mention at the beginning of your article. . . But I’m curious why you feel that others have to join in on a “movement”? If you live authentically, even in social media, even while you travel or don’t travel, others will see that. If you live authentically you can enjoy more of those moments like the winds from Moher which are absolutely stunning and the moments in pubs or out for tapas, and you don’t have to demand a movement and action from others. Trying to imitate others and their success and others experiences is a dangerous road that will leave us forever unfulfilled because the only cup that you should be Filling is your own, an not comparing whose cup is bigger or shinier or more glam arranged in a more perfect shot for Instagram. ?

  32. This is such an interesting post, Cassandra. When I was travelling in Mexico recently, I had made big plans before going about how many times I will be posting on social media. When I was there, all I wanted to do was to just be there, experience the place, the culture, the colours and the vibe. While I may have not gained many followers and likes since then, I totally agree with you is that #TRAVELISMORETHANINSTAGRAM.


  33. Great post, Cassandra! You have got me thinking. I wonder whether the shift happens when one starts to view themselves as a travel influenced rather than a mere traveller? I guess if the motivation behind our travels boils down to those Instagram likes then it’s hard to see past that. I’m glad that you are having this conversation because on a larger level I see social media perfectionism as an issue that affects everyone, not just travellers, and forces people into unrealistic, unhealthy comparison games with their peers. We should be celebrating authenticity and remember that our worlds are not always aesthetically pleasing, but that’s ok.

  34. I appreciate this post! I’m so guilty of having FOMO when looking at other people’s travel pictures. In the end there is no right way to travel and a post on social media is so much less important than the quality and learning travel brings to your life… thanks for sharing this!

  35. I guess there are as many bad reasons to travel as there are good ones. In fact, the Ana Karenina principle where authentic travels are all the same but inauthentic travels are unique and broken in their own way. In the end, I think we are all looking for some universal truth, or at least enlightenment. Something that we didn’t know, or feel, or even have the words to express that will reach us ephemerally while we are on the road. These truths of speak in whispers so you need to be quiet and listen well when they are speaking to you.

  36. A great reminder of why travel is really about – it definitely is more than an instagram photo. For me, it is about stepping out of my comfort zone (by participating in activities I’ve never done before) and to share memories with my lovely hubby!

  37. Love this post! It’s great to stop and remind yourself why you’re traveling and what your motivation is (and should be). Beautiful photos are great to have, but true travel is about growing, learning, and experiencing.

  38. Great post and so true! That’s why I stopped Snapchatting. It was fun and I was connecting with people but it was taking me so much out of the moment, it was ridiculous. Now I just do little IG stories every now and then and after the fact when I have a moment of downtime.

  39. I love this post! Definitely travel is so much more than the perfect Instagram photo.. sometimes thats why snapchat or stories are kind fun, a little more in the moment! I love travel for letting me experience new cultures, eating local cuisines, immersing yourself into a different place. I do think its important not to get caught up in the whole Instagram perfection people and just enjoy yourself! That’s how I kinda felt at the Hirshhorn museum, I felt I was getting caught up with taking the photo so I had to go through the exhibits twice to really experience it!

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