42 In Travel/ Travel Talk

Does Social Media Influence Your Travel Plans?

Social Media Impacts Vacation Planning for Families

You have to admit, when you’re scrolling through your social media feeds there are certain photos of far-off lands that just catch your eye. When you see those photos do you think somewhere in your mind it’s influencing where you choose your next holiday destination? If your answer to this question is yes, don’t worry; you’re not alone.

Social media definitely had a hand in finding this Texas gem

When I start planning a trip, I start off by mapping out some sort of rough route. Once I have that I pick up my phone or sit in front of my computer and do some research. While I try not to have everything predetermined, I do like to find those special, locals-only spots that perhaps not everyone sees, but everyone wishes they had found. However, those take some research to find. I know of only a few ways to find these spots: asking actual locals in person, finding the perfect blog post or searching hashtags and destinations on social media – a lot of which lead directly back to a blog post.

Are Millennials More Likely to Let Social Media Influence Them?

Being a millennial means that statistically I’m going to be more involved in social media (although, I have some non-millennial family members who go a little crazy on snapchat). Having multiple social media platforms at my finger tips means I’m constantly getting lost in other people’s posts, daydreaming of making my own journey these places. Luckily, I’m not alone because 66% of millennials feel the same way. This means that people aren’t only looking to these platforms for inspiration, but people are also posting to these platforms hoping to inspire others.

Beach shots, like this one from our honeymoon on Kaua’i are some of the most popular social media posts!

There’s that phrase “I did it for the Insta”; I’ve seen it printed on shirts and used as captions. While it’s funny and quintessentially millennial, there’s more truth to that than I realized. It turns out that a fourth of Americans (26%) said that they choose a destination based off of how they think their vacation photos will look on social media. I have to admit that this percentage surprised me. Do you think this is too far or would you consider yourself to be in this category?

I know that I post my best photos to my Instagram. I plan the perfect Pins to promote posts and share tips and information on Facebook and Twitter. However, I don’t think I’m quite to the “I-did-it-for-the-Insta”-level though. I’m trying to inspire. I want people to get out and enjoy their lives; to explore and discover this beautiful planet and its people.

It’s not just millennials, though. According to Alamo’s annual survey 2 in 5 American families said that their trips have been influenced by social media. That’s 42% of Americans! I know my Facebook feed is flooded with photos and videos depicting gorgeous places around the world by bloggers, travel companies and friends. I often tag people I personally know in comments when I think a place would pique their interest.

Are We Letting Social Media Dictate Too Much of Our Vacations?

While social media is a fantastic tool to help plan your next adventure and road trip be sure to actually take the time to enjoy the vacation. I know there are many different ways to travel and to enjoy things. However, it’s easy to cross a line. When I first got Snapchat, my husband and I went on a camping trip. I found myself focused on making the perfect snap story that I missed out on quality time with Matt and potential memories we could’ve made. Instead, Matt has memories of me talking into my phone over and over because I didn’t like the way my voice sounded. I knew at that point that it was time to take control of myself. Since then I’ve tried to be more mindful.

While the destination wasn’t just for this photo, this photo was for the Insta at Monument Rocks in Kansas

Being a blogger, I am always sure to capture moments, spectacular sights and striking landscapes. However, for every moment I have my camera in action, I try to have many more that I’m enjoying the moment. After all, what good are those stellar photos and social media likes if you don’t have real stories that go with them?

Join the conversation. What do you think? Do you use social media to help plan your trips? Do you “Do it for the Insta”? How far is too far?

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*Again, although I received compensation for this post, all opinions, as always are my own.

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42 Comments

  • Reply
    Len Kagami
    May 18, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    Nice article! In my opinion, I think travelling is about enjoying the moment, gathering experience. Making Instagram-able photo is a part of the trip, but not the essential part (well… at least for a non-sponsored trip). I only use social media as reference, I have never used it as my itinerary. There are places rarely appear on Instagram, but they are magical in reality 🙂

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      June 9, 2017 at 10:16 am

      I absolutely find places to go on Instagram. However, I don’t go just to replicate the photos. Like you said, though, it is totally different for sponsored trips, since that’s what you’re there for.

  • Reply
    Nano @ Travel With Nano B.
    May 18, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    Very interesting topic, Paige! I like to utilize social media to find those off the beaten track places and experiences. Like you, I like to pre-plan my trips and do some advance research. I look up popular hashtags of the city I am heading to to see what people do there. I have never chosen a destination based on how well it will photograph, but I definitely have visited a café if their food is cute and Instagrammable (e.g. Yum Cha in Hong Kong). Although social media definitely holds a huge power and inspires to go out there and explore. Since starting blogging I learned about so many unique destinations from my fellow bloggers. I feel like I travel vicariously every day!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      June 9, 2017 at 10:21 am

      I definitely agree with what you’re saying! I need to be better about researching restaurants and cafes. It’s always the part I leave out when planning. If I’m in Hong Kong, though, I’m definitely going there, just looked up their hashtag! Yum!

  • Reply
    Julie Cao
    May 21, 2017 at 10:31 am

    Very insightful topic Paige! I appreciate that you reinforce the facts that social media is used for delivering value to and inspire other travelers. I too sometimes use social media and the blog post to plan my trip, but never once I went on a trip because i need to do it for social media, even the press trip I won’t do it. I just let myself immerse in the full experience and write my story.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      June 9, 2017 at 10:25 am

      That’s the most important part of travel to me. To soak it up and learn something (whether about yourself or the destination – or even better, both!). I definitely photograph more on press trips, but you want to be sure to experience it more than anything, so you can write honest reviews.

  • Reply
    Raj
    May 22, 2017 at 12:03 am

    Well, social media mostly gives you pictures not the info. As a traveler we always have to do our homework. It all depends on type of my travel and kind of risk I am able to take. I do depend on sites like tripadviser or google reviews more than social networks. Generally I have seen people want to boast on social channels! 😀

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      June 12, 2017 at 9:22 am

      I definitely use social media like Instagram to visually see destinations and then I turn to Pinterest/travel blogs for more detailed info. However, I have never gone to a destination just to replicate and IG post.

  • Reply
    Christina Pfeiffer
    May 22, 2017 at 8:43 am

    That’s a really good question, Paige. I would love to see some survey statistics on how much social media does influence choices. I’ve found lots of new places I wouldn’t have come across otherwise through social media.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      June 12, 2017 at 9:23 am

      Hey Christina! The research actually has been done! If you click on the links in my post, you can see some of the research done by Alamo Rent A Car

  • Reply
    Danni L
    May 22, 2017 at 8:51 am

    So true that SM is a major influence on millennials, especially Snapchat. The reach of Instagram in promoting travel is also crazy. So happy to read that you’ve found the balance between sharing online and great travels with your partner.Here’s to that!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      June 12, 2017 at 9:25 am

      Thank you! Snapchat got dangerous for me, there for a minute. However, since I stepped away, I find it sort-of odd again. Instagram is still my favorite SM option l, even with their stupid algorithm.

  • Reply
    kellybarcus
    May 22, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    I don’t do things for Instagram, but I have discovered a lot of places I want to go through Instagram or other social media outlets. I don’t think I would’ve ever even known of some of the locations on my bucket list without it!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      June 12, 2017 at 9:26 am

      I completely agree! Instagram is such a cool tool to find those “hidden” destinations.

  • Reply
    Sandy N Vyjay
    May 23, 2017 at 1:30 am

    I think, like it or not Social Media does have a large say in the vacation plans. An instagram or FB post is likely to set the imagination soaring and travel plans crystallizing. Once at the destination, many a time people are lost in freezing the moments for social media rather than enjoying the whole experience, which I think is such a sheer waste.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      June 12, 2017 at 9:30 am

      I completely agree! I think people definitely miss out on some genuinely amazing moments by being so focused on posting on social media.

  • Reply
    Sally E
    May 24, 2017 at 4:50 am

    Funnily enough, I went to a travel conference earlier this month and we talked about this exact topic! While I still don’t use Instagram to plan my vacations, I’m astounded by the number of people who do – especially the younger generation! While I think it’s a great way to inspire people to travel, I do think it’s important to emphasize local culture and history along with the grammable-ness of a destination. Great post!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      June 12, 2017 at 9:45 am

      Oh, absolutely! I definitely search a hashtag to find beautiful destinations – especially nature – but having an anthropology degree, I definitely dig into the culture as much as possible.

  • Reply
    Colby
    May 24, 2017 at 6:05 am

    I can´t say that I have ever traveled to a place just to ¨do it for the Insta¨; however, I have discovered some amazing places that I never even knew about, and added them to my wanderlist, thanks to social media. I think social media is an incredible resource for connecting with other travelers and locals, and getting insider tips and such.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      June 12, 2017 at 9:47 am

      I didn’t even think about the connections made over social media. That’s such a real thing! I moved to a different city after making friends via IG in a beautiful city!

  • Reply
    Mel Butler
    May 24, 2017 at 7:19 am

    What an interesting topic, I never really thought about it like that. I mean when I read about a place I like or see a picture of it on either instagram or on fb but I would not say it influences my decision. I try not to use my phone or camera to much if I am around people unless I am on a press trip and I have to do a live feed. Saying all that I get a lot of my work through IG talking about adventures and history. Great post btw 🙂

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      June 12, 2017 at 9:50 am

      Oh yeah, press trips are a totally different animal. I’m with you, I try not to be on my phone around people. My best friend’s family puts their phones in the middle of the table when they have family dinners and the first to grab their phone has to buy dinner. It’s a great idea!

  • Reply
    Megan Indoe
    May 24, 2017 at 11:05 am

    I totally use social media to help plan trips! My husband is a photographer so we love using Instagram and Pinterest to check the geo tag in the city to get a quick visual glance at whats trending in the area, even if we don’t take the same photo as everyone else it gives us an idea and vibe of the place before visiting. Especially when we are traveling for months at a time, we don’t always plan everything instead we will look at photos and get a quick idea!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      June 12, 2017 at 9:52 am

      I totally understand that. We do the same thing – my husband is also a photographer. I don’t copy exact photos, but I do love seeing the sites that only people who’ve been in an area for a while (or who get super lucky) find!

  • Reply
    Thelittlelai: Beyond limits
    May 24, 2017 at 5:47 pm

    Truly, this is such a very nice article and nice read. I rarely read an article like and this must be really well thought. Yes, at present Social media has given us a wider perspective in some ways. It actually help us, but without controlling yourself toward it is also not good. Personally, Social media has help me a lot especially on my trip in which I could determine the places I want to visit. I also like how you point out that we should never be dictated by social media and always have a great time whenever we are on vacation with our love ones.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      June 12, 2017 at 9:54 am

      Thank you! I appreciate you taking the time to read and leave a thoughtful comment. I agree it’s an amazing tool!

  • Reply
    LaiAriel R. Samangka (Thelittlelai: Beyond limits)
    May 24, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    Truly, this is such a very nice article and nice read. I rarely read an article like and this must be really well thought. Yes, at present Social media has given us a wider perspective in some ways. It actually help us, but without controlling yourself toward it is also not good. Personally, Social media has help me a lot especially on my trip in which I could determine the places I want to visit. I also like how you point out that we should never be dictated by social media and always have a great time whenever we are on vacation with our love ones.

  • Reply
    Cat
    May 24, 2017 at 11:47 pm

    I go to Instagram and Pinterest for vacation ideas but don’t make my decision on where to travel solely on what I see on these platforms. Usually flight deals dictate more 😛 But you brought up a good point to not just go to places for the photos, more important thing is to enjoy the moment!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      June 12, 2017 at 9:55 am

      Oh, I hear that! I love when I’m in a position to be spontaneous and can go where the flight deals are! I took a very spontaneous trip to Iceland this year based on an amazing flight deal!

  • Reply
    Hannah
    May 25, 2017 at 5:05 am

    Honestly, yes I do use social media or just the internet as inspiration, but I never do something for the insta I do it dor myself and if it makes instagram so be it. I tried to be (unlike many of my peers) not depended on social media. I like to make my own memories and some can be shared.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      June 12, 2017 at 9:57 am

      I like that lady thought. People definitely share too much on social media. I’ve been guilty of it myself. I like the idea of having moments just for you and the people around you.

  • Reply
    The Thought Card
    May 25, 2017 at 6:34 am

    Doing it for the Insta might be taking it too far, I think. There are times that I get inspired to share a photo or video while traveling on IG but I don’t go to a destination only for the attention or the likes. As a blogger, striking the perfect balance of capturing the moment and being in the moment can be challenging but being mindful helps.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      June 12, 2017 at 9:58 am

      It absolutely can be very difficult. Luckily, there are amazing communities of bloggers that help me be mindful. (Of course, we communicate on social media 😂)

  • Reply
    Genie | Gallivanting Bean
    May 25, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    my friends and I “do it for the gram” all the time. but i do agree that there needs to be some sort of line. especially with stories of people falling off cliffs and ruining monuments just for the sake of social media. Social media definitely influences my travel plans. I always look through geotags to see what a place looks like. But to me the influence is good. I wouldn’t have visited half the places I’ve been or even met half the people I now know without social media

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      June 12, 2017 at 10:22 am

      It’s definitely a great tool that has made the world even smaller! I’ve definitely met some amazing people through social media. In fact, I never would’ve met my husband if it weren’t for friends I met through IG and blogging.

  • Reply
    Aubrie
    May 26, 2017 at 2:01 am

    I am glad you wrote this post because I definitely feel it does affect vacation plans which can be good and bad. On one hand, it can promote tourism and on the other, places can get overwhelmed with tourists and not be able to keep up and maintain the places and we are always seeing people at the exact same places rather than people making their own experiences!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      June 12, 2017 at 12:41 pm

      I didn’t even think about that side of it. That places may not be able to keep up with the influx of visitors! Thank you for bringing up that point!

  • Reply
    suzystories
    May 26, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    Love this post! So insightful and definitely something to remember when travelling, and even in everyday life! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      June 12, 2017 at 12:47 pm

      It does translate to everyday life as well!

  • Reply
    Mike Clegg - www.travelanddestinations.com
    June 15, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    I’m definitely influenced to go to places I see on Instagram. In the past I have seen pictures of places and then gone on to book a trip as a result.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      June 15, 2017 at 7:15 pm

      Absolutely. I’ve found some really incredible destinations via Instagram.

  • Reply
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