Happy travel pictures: ugly photos of my best travel memories

Note: Some links in this post may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase from an affiliate link, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you (thank you!). For more info, check out my disclosure policy.

A picture can tell 1000 words, but sometimes none of them are actually how you felt during the picture.

Last year, I shared some of my most instagrammamble moments, and why they all have some pretty terrible memories (see here). Even though most of them earned me tons of Instagram and Pinterest points, they all hurt to look at because of those bad memories.

This year, I realized that many of my memorable travel moments have some pretty terrible photos. Like even though the experiences were amazing, I haven’t really written about them because it’s hard to communicate amazing-ness with words. Pictures are way better at inspiring wanderlust… and mine are all bad.

Did I really have fun if the pictures are awkward?

Being that old late-twenties person who didn’t grow up using Instagram, I’m sharing these terrible pictures as a reminder that looking like you’re having fun doesn’t always mean you’re actually having fun.

Eating ossobucco in Italy

ossubucco in milan

Eating at an osteria in Milan is one of my top food experiences. Specifically the risotto, ossobucco, and mushroom pasta we had at this one place were all literally some of the best foods I’ve ever had in my life.

Ossobucco is a local Milanese dish of incredibly tender veal shanks and tons of flavor, and Milan has it’s own version of risotto made with beef broth and saffron. The mushroom pasta was just their special of the day.

Like many great restaurants, this osteria had a romantic, dim vibe- aka it was a terrible place to take pictures unless you have one of these gaudy lights that make indoor food pictures good. Plus this dish is inherently non-photogenic, with all of it’s messy, saucey, umami, beefy deliciousness. Since I’m not that dedicated to the ‘gram, no one will believe me when I say that this picture is of one of the most delicious dishes in the world.

Cruising through Ha Long Bay

I went to Ha Long Bay before Game of Thrones season 2 came out, so way before Tyrion was sailing the Narrow Sea on TV. From the books, I had my own vision of this scene. And they were exactly what Ha Long Bay looks like.

It was amazing seeing this dream come to life. Ha Long Bay was also amazing, because it was the most stunning place I’ve ever been to. The only issue is I was there with my friends who care about good experiences more than good pictures (as opposed to my friends who care about both equally), so this is the only picture I have. Luckily, other people have cool highly edited photos of Ha Long Bay that will better convince you that it’s awesome.

This and the food in Hanoi made Northern Vietnam great, despite the anti-black microaggressions.

Kayaking around San Juan Island

After at least 82 road trips all over Washington state (yes, I keep track), the San Juan Islands are absolutely one of my favorite places.

During this trip, we kayaked for 6 hours around San Juan Island, and it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever done. Of course the scenery is gorgeous with PNW forests and the Pacific Ocean, but also there are so many animals along the way! We saw whales, starfish, jellyfish, eagles, etc.

Since we were here for intense kayaking fun and not Instagram, we didn’t pack a DSLR with us or stop for kayak selfies looking off in the distance from behind. Actually, I don’t know how you can look cute wearing a life jacket. We stopped for lunch at one of the mini islands along the way though, which is there this one was taken. Doesn’t inspire others to kayak around the island for hours, but deep down it holds those memories for me.

Hiking in the desert

I talked a little about this here, but if you haven’t read that post, hiking in this desert was totally magical.

It’s the only place I 100% felt like I was “getting away” from the world and 100% zen. Not the mountain hikes, not the forest hikes, not the lake hikes, but this desert hike. It was incredibly still and peaceful. It was too hot. But it was perfect.

Will this awkward pose convince other people of that? Probably not.

First hike with my boyfriend

This one is definitely more personal and less bucket list-y. We had so much fun on this hike, bonding with each other and also failing miserably at completing it. But, I wouldn’t put this even in my top 100 of favorite hikes. And technically, we didn’t make it to the top because we weren’t prepared for the heat or 3000′ elevation gain (we were trying to do a lake hike and got lost, okay).

I guess I included it more as a reminder that what you’re doing can be important but so is who you’re doing it with.

You can travel to amazing places, but humans are social, communal creatures. Sharing experiences and connecting with others is so so important, and it can be hard for selfies to capture that.

Not to say that solo experiences aren’t important. They are. Just a reminder of #balance and #spendtimewithpplyoucareabout


Traveler. Foodie. Student debt haver. I love finding the best things to do and eat when traveling, and sharing them with everyone else who likes experiencing local culture or exploring the outdoors too! You can read more about me in my about page.

Note: Some links in this post may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase from an affiliate link, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you (thank you!). For more info, check out my disclosure policy.


  1. BaZoooooot24
    September 2, 2018 / 8:16 am

    Love this post! Not all pictures have to be perfect, it’s about the story behind them šŸ˜. Keep up the amazing work!

    • Angelica
      October 18, 2018 / 8:44 pm

      Thank you! šŸ˜

  2. September 3, 2018 / 5:53 pm

    hahaha I am right there with you! so many blah photos of the most amazing time!

    • Angelica
      September 3, 2018 / 10:45 pm

      I know, I guess the moment is just too exciting for us to care šŸ˜‚

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