Sad travel pictures: when instagrammable photos are lies

Sad travel pictures: when instagrammable photos are lies

Social media doesn’t always make us happy or help us feel connected to our friends.

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the negative thoughts you have when you look at other people’s travel pictures and think about how happy they look, how you want to be there too, or how much your life sucks. But traveling is not always glamourous. Life is not always happy. There might be another side to the photo.

To keep things balanced, here are some travel pictures from trips that I’ve written positives posts about. The posts totally sound helpful and look happy, but the pictures remind me of points in the trip that I didn’t actually enjoy. Not to say “pictures are all lies” but rather “don’t feel bad if someone looking interesting in a picture makes you feel bad.”

Creepy men

picture of me in istanbul

A bit before this picture, a group of guys were literally following me around Istanbul. I tried to escape, but one caught up and started groping me in public! I freaked out, but a fellow tourist was the one who eventually got him off.

We started sightseeing together and talking about life. He even took this picture for me.

But, it turned out he was also creepy, though it was much easier to escape from him. Plus, he didn’t even know how to wait until people aren’t in the foreground before taking pictures.

Either way, now whenever I think of Istanbul, I think about the gorgeous architecture, the amazing food, and all the times people tried to put their finger in my butt.

Bad relationships

picture of me in alaska

My ex-boyfriend and I got in a major fight during a hike in Alaska. We literally wanted nothing to do with each other, but since we were in the middle of nowhere, we decided to finish it together- just apart from and without talking to each other.

To pretend we were happy, we tried to take pictures of each other. We just smiled/posed on camera and then glared at each other off camera. This was like the epitome of pictures not showing the whole situation, unless you could take a picture of angry awkward silences.

Here’s a lunch in Rome with my ex-boyfriend again where, while I don’t remember why we were mad, I do remember that we didn’t talk during the whole meal because we were so annoyed with each other. I was even texting some friends to see if I could crash at their place instead of our hotel! We did end up parting ways after lunch but randomly found each other again.

me in rarotonga

Another awkward time with… you guessed it, ex-boyfriend. We bought tickets to Rarotonga while we were still together, but the flights left 6 months after we bought them. Then, we broke up a couple of months after buying the tickets.

Breaking up is messy, but after this trip I realized I was really done and that we were BOTH bad for each other. What made it awkward was that he didn’t have this realization and wanted to get back together the whole trip. I don’t really know how to put in words how it feels when, yes you did have some good times, but you’re really not right for each other, and only one person realizes this. Awkward, maybe. Awkward sad. I literally can’t think about this trip without being sad, yet this is my post popular post…

Oh yeah, and the awkward screaming and crying couple at the resort… that wasn’t us…. *shifty eyes*

Health Problems

dragon in harry potter world

Right before I went to Harry Potter world, I found out a loved one who doesn’t want to be named because of outdated patriarchal standards had stage four cancer. The next few days were spent wondering if I should cancel the trip and spend time with loved one.

I ended up going since I had everything booked and didn’t want to leave my friend alone. But I could not focus on the rides or being with my friend or anything. This whole trip I was wondering why I was still there, instead of with the loved one.

Fake social media

picture of me in hawaii

This picture from Makapu’u beach in Hawaii makes me a little sad about how fake pictures can be, why I don’t like taking them, and why I don’t focus on having good ones. You literally are just moving around pretending to be cute or thoughtful or in the moment, focusing on getting “the right shot”, not really enjoying what’s around you.

Once I put my phone away though, I was able to be fully mind blown by the beach again- as opposed to 85% mind blown with my phone out. Also, ask Gen Z’rs to take pictures of you when you’re traveling solo and need a picture from another person. They know what they’re doing.

sad instagrammable photos pinterest image

Update: This post was about instagrammable photos with bad memories. I wrote another post with ugly photos and amazing memories for more balance. Check it out here!


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.


  1. February 16, 2017 / 8:05 am

    Be careful out there. Being followed by a group of men and groped in public? That’s not a good situation to be in. Never travel alone. Be safe out there and put the phone down so you can be alert of your surroundings. Don’t look like a victim. That shit is no joke.

  2. July 2, 2018 / 8:50 am

    Great post and reminders!

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