Okay, so lots of people already know I have a hate-need-hate relationship with Instagram and social media in general. It can be the absolute worst because of the “anonymity” factor, but then it’s also great because it’s kind of like free advertising for my blog. (Well, not Facebook–they’ve been making small businesses pay to play for years, and I refuse!)
In some ways, it’s played an absolutely vital role in keeping people in touch, especially during the pandemic. I’ve actually made some really amazing friends because of Instagram over the last few years, and honestly, they’re the reason I’m still hanging on to the ‘gram! There are, however, some things I’ve done for the sake of Instagram that cost me money, time, and memories. Here are the worst things I’ve ever done for Instagram, and a couple of things I’m thankful for because of it.
Let’s start with the worst–I know that’s what you’re most nosy about!
I know, I know. It’s like the dream, right? Well, Steve and I woke up from that dream upon arrival. I made the huge mistake of staying at a place recommended by a fellow travel blogger. The property looked beautiful, she had nothing but glowing things to say about it, and she definitely said that all guests receive a welcome massage upon arrival!
The difference between her experience and ours was that she received a complimentary stay, and she may have even been paid to stay there, so of course she was going to say nice things. We paid our own way, just like regular people. The reality for us was:
- A three-hour drive from midnight to 3:00am to go seven miles from the airport to the hotel. Not because of anything special, just because that’s traffic in Bali.
- No welcome massage.
- A very dangerous walk to the beach. (Think open manholes, mopeds and cars driving with no rules or agreed-upon side of the road, no sidewalks, sharp litter, etc.)
- A filthy, littered beach.
- Gray ocean water when we did get to the beach.
- No reasonable transportation (in cost or time) to anywhere else on the island.
The accommodation itself was very nice, so we were glad for that, but we weren’t excited to only spend time there and not exploring Bali. Those epic Balinese photos and videos I was supposed to get for the blog and Instagram? I have none.
It’s a good thing we didn’t have to leave for food: What to Eat on Bali
Desert Glamping (Glamorous Camping)
This was another recommendation from a fellow travel blogger who had her stay paid for (again, Steve and I did not). Her photos looked unreal, gorgeous, exciting! It seemed like a luxurious, fun, once-in-a-lifetime experience in the Sahara. The reality was that we didn’t get the tour we thought we’d paid for, I did get epic pictures, but the air conditioning was not available the whole time, and there were several unexpected expenses (including drinking water) that were not included in this “all inclusive” excursion.
Overall, the experience was not worth it. We could have spent more time in Fes, where we ended up only spening one day, which was not enough!
Since I didn’t get a free ride, I can be TOTALLY honest about what to expect!
What to Know Before You Go Glamping in the Sahara
Staying at La Mamounia
This hotel was rated #1 by Conde Naste Traveler, and it’s where all the Instagrammers go. It has endless beautiful photo-ops. Well, not for us, but for anyone else. Instagrammers actually flock there to take photos. We, however, were treated so poorly and hatefully while we were here, and I literally got yelled at and told I couldn’t take photos because all the security guards assumed we weren’t paying to stay there. (We were, unlike the multitude of other Instagrammers who get to stay for free.) We still don’t know what it was about the fit, elegant, business-casual, looks of us that said we didn’t belong. Too youthful perhaps?
Definitely one of the worst things I’ve ever done because of Instagram is paying to stay at this hotel. And it was worse because Steve was really looking forward to it, too. Instagram fail.
Read about the whole disaster: Why I Will Not Recommend La Mamounia, Marrakech
Going to Iceland’s Blue Lagoon
This is another place where an employee yelled at me for taking photos. Y’all. This is one of the most instagrammed places in. the. world. It was crowded, it was overpriced, it was over-produced, it was overly complicated. Not a fan.
Want to try your luck? What to Know about Visiting the Blue Lagoon
Shopping in the Souks in Marrakech
Here’s another one from Morocco. I know the souks (the old shops) would be a confusing maze full of scammers, but I thought I could handle it. I could not. We were so stressed out the entire time we were in there (I don’t know how long, maybe two hours?), that not only did we not enjoy it at all, not only did we waste our time, I also got zero photos for Instagram. Whoops!
Not to worry, though. Just type “Morocco” into Instagram and you’ll see everyone else’s souk shots!
More here: Safety and Avoiding Scams in Morocco
Making a Gelato Run in Verona
You’ve seen the photos. Everyone who’s ever been to Italy has take a photo holding up a gelato cone in front of a statue or fountain or something. I so wanted to be one of those people! Unfortunately, I was so tired from the day, I didn’t even try that hard for the photo. It was shadowy, unfocused, and not at all “Insta-worthy.” I also wasted valuable time with my husband to go get it because he didn’t want to go back out that day. (We had already walked over 30,000 steps by 3:00pm!)
Oh, and I prefer my gelato in a cup, not a cone, so I paid extra for the cone exclusively for the photo and didn’t even eat it. Wasted.
Some of the other food was Instagram-worthy, though! What to Eat in Verona
Missing Actual Surprise on My Parents’ Faces
My husband did the most amazing thing to start our new year. He had the idea to fly down to Tennessee and visit my parents and surprise them for New Year’s Day! It was awesome, and they were SO SURPRISED! At least I think they were. I was too busy trying to video the experience for Instagram to get a live look.
You might think, “Who cares? Now you have the video forever and can see their surprised faces all over again!”
Well, the thing is, I walked in the back door, thinking they’d be in the kitchen or den at the back of the house. Instead, they were in the dining room at the front of the house. It was taking too long, there was kind of a lot of dead time in the recording, so I stopped and re-started the video, but by then the moment was gone and everyone was screaming and excited. I literally missed the moment because I was trying to make it perfect for Instagram. Huge regrets there.
I highly recommend surprising someone with travel no matter what, though!
5 Ways to Surprise Someone with Travel
It’s not all bad, though. Instagram has definitely had a huge hand in making me a better photographer. I don’t get a lot of views on the blog because of Instagram, but my blog is better because of those improved photography skills, so that’s a positive. Here are a couple more:
Fun Pics on Waikiki
If not for Instagram, I wouldn’t have taken my “fun” pictures on Waikiki Beach a couple of years ago. Well, I say I took them, but really I just posed for them. My husband was my photographer! I use these photos a lot in my blog posts, on Instagram, and for cover photos for the blog, too. They turned out amazing, and I never would have posed for anything like them without the pressure of Instagram.
Planning a trip to Hawaii? You’ll find everything you need on my Pacific Islands Page!
My Profile Pic
My amazing friend Kelly graciously joined me for a day of photography in D.C. three years ago when I was working on a post about “Instagrammable” places. The photos she took for me at the famous Watermelon House turned out so well, it’s been my signature profile pic ever since! It’s the photo I use on all my books, all my social media, Zoom calls, everything! It’s fun, it’s colorful, it’s eye-catching, and I never would have gotten the photo if not for my feeble attempts at being Instagrammable!
It’s okay to do a few things “for the ‘Gram”
The Most Instagrammable Spots in Washington, D.C.
So what about you? What’s the worst (or best!) thing you’ve done for Instagram? Comment to tell on yourself!
Want more? Check out all my posts on creativity on my Publishing Page!
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