Instagram and travel: finding a balance

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There’s nothing like a golden Colombian beach as bait for a #sunset Insta-brag. But our Instagram habits are changing the world in a way we can’t yet grasp.

Beauty spots that were once remote and hidden are now bending under the pressure of their newfound Insta fame, with big crowds altering the landscape.


Meanwhile, many of us are choosing to travel on the basis of “likes” alone, with some people even dying in pursuit of the perfect selfie (yes, really).

Clearly, things have spiralled out of control, but for life coach Emily Hodge (below), the relationship between travel and Instagram lies in balance rather than a full digital detox.

“A digital detox implies we need to ban, stop and set rules, but on the whole we just need to learn better ways to spend time online,” she says.

“It’s about reassessing the habits that work for us and creating boundaries for how we live, work and play.

Read more: 5 bucket list islands to tick off in a lifetime

“We need be more excited about our offline lives so that we’re less distracted by our phone anyway – and travel is a great opportunity to do this.”

Here, Emily explains a few of the major benefits you can hope to reap by curbing your Insta-habits abroad…

Stay in the present


You’re definitely going to enjoy something on a more profound level without worrying about what to put online.

It’s simply about attention: you can’t pay close, good and genuine attention to more than one thing at a time, so you’re sacrificing the moment if you’re sharing it with a screen.

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We’re usually numb to our surroundings because we’re busy with other things. By giving ourselves the time to rest and be in the moment, we become more calm and centred. These moments can provide great creativity for people, too.

We’re being, which is a very positive state in a world that wants us to always do and produce.

Separate from work


If we use our phone for work, the idea of picking it up to post about a holiday update might take us back into a mental space of work again.

And if we’re always on, our bodies are going to feel that, too.

We won’t get into rest as easily, because we’re wound up and ready for something all the time.

Calm your mind


A lot of my clients report feeling distracted, overwhelmed and over-stimulated by social media. Also comparison or fear of missing out features a lot.

It’s completely natural that if we’re bombarded with what everyone else is doing all the time, we’re going to be affected by that.

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We’re having less opportunity for situations of wakeful rest than ever before, yet it has been shown to be a very healing part of our body’s process. Our brains function in a calmer state than otherwise.

I know so many people who’ve had an Instagram break, then return feeling much more refreshed and less stressed.

Make better connections


There’s something to be said about sharing a moment on Instagram: it feels like a community spirit.

But research has found that with even a phone present in the room we’re more likely to have broken conversations than without one present.

Read more: Why can’t we all live in the 90s again?

When we’re no longer distracted by our phones, we also hold eye contact for longer and open up our posture, which is naturally more friendly and inviting.

Because of this, we’re more likely to connect deeply with new people.

Re-calibrate your senses

We process memories differently online, with greater processing happening away from the event we want to hold onto.

This means if we see an amazing sunset then go straight to Instagram, we’re less likely to record all the details than if we, say, took a walk to process what’s just happened.

Read more: Life as a Flash Pack adventure architect

Seeing the world through your real rather than online eyes has a different feel to it.

There’s all the senses and movement and sounds and real people to interact with. There’s nothing like it.

Reawaken your passions

I’ve had days where I kept my phone off when I was on holiday. It was great and also difficult, because you realise how much time you waste doing nothing on your phone, so you’re left with your thoughts!

Read more: Golden rules to a happier workplace

This is a good thing but also tough if you don’t want to overthink. Really, it’s about finding what you love again in your life: the hobbies, people, places you enjoy and being as present with them as possible.

Time offline really highlights this. It makes you think: “What does the world mean to me and how can I enjoy it more?”

How to limit Instagram use: three easy steps

  • Estimate the time you’re online now and then set a time you’d love to be online when you’re travelling. Subtract the difference and that’s how much free time you now have on your holiday
  • Have set times of day that you post to social media and once posted don’t keep returning back to the post to watch for comments – go back to it once later in the day only. If you’re sharing things on stories, upload your stories all at once for the day so you’re not always online throughout the day
  • Accept you will probably use your phone for maps and recommendations so take off all the apps you don’t want to use whilst on holiday

Emily Hodge is a life coach and health psychology specialist. Find out more about her work at

Images: Flash Pack, Emily Hodge and Shutterstock

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