Earlier this week, I published this controversial story on The Huffington Post about the rise of the anti-travel blogger and what to expect from them. I spoke to a new breed of travel bloggers that are shifting focus from visual-heavy content and perfect travel snapshots to stories about global, social and environmental issues and photos that dare to share their flaws.
Many travel bloggers (myself included) can be guilty of sharing the same wanderlust Instagram photos that paint travel as this impossibly perfect experience. The reality, of course, is not always so flawless and this new breed of anti-travel blogger is making a point to expose that. They’re letting readers know it’s OKAY not to look like a model while traveling.
For every perfect travel photo, there are multiple failed ones behind it. For every effortless selfie there is an hour of preparation going into the look. For every “on-the-fly” travel shot there is 15 minutes of photo editing to make it look idyllic. To celebrate life’s imperfections–for better or for worse–here are the truths behind a few of my Instagram snapshots.
The time I used a bicycle as a tripod.
I grew up in a suburb on the Northside of Chicago known as Wilmette, where we have the odd claim to fame of having the only Bahá’í Temple in North America. Although I have seen this temple many times, on a recent visit to Chicago I finally appreciated just how beautiful the Bahá’í Temple is.
With its perfectly manicured lawns, lush gardens and blinding white architecture; I had passed the temple thousands of times and had never really paid it any attention. I took this impromptu photo while biking around and rediscovering my hometown. Lacking a tripod, in order to get this shot I had to literally tie my iPhone to my bike with a hair tie and set a self timer.
The most inconvenient travel photo.
Oh, the places I’ll go ✨Taking a look at the map that inspired The Pin the Map Project & dreaming about the places I’ve seen and have yet to explore. ✈️🌎 What’s your favorite place you’ve traveled to? . Photo Details: Necklace & earrings by @silpadadesigns. You can shop the look now! http://bit.ly/1suA5Dw (Sale starts at 8 a.m. CT & ends at 11:59 p.m. CT) #SilpadaGlam #Makeastatement #SilpadaStyle #sponsored #pinthemap
Oh dear reader, I can’t begin to tell you how utterly annoying it was to capture this particular travel photo. First off, this is a sponsored post for a campaign I had signed up for via my blogger network. The night before the campaign was due, I realized in horror that I had to post my photo by 10am the next morning. At 11pm, I grudgingly changed out of my pajamas, put on make up and asked my wonderful boyfriend to please assist me in the taking of this photograph.
Now, because it was nighttime, my boyfriend (who is a filmmaker) had to use his fancy set lights in order to provide sufficient lighting for the photo. Setting up the lights required moving furniture and setting up the equipment. Then, in order to capture the necklace (which was the main point of this sponsored post), my boyfriend and I spent the next half hour trying different angles until we finally got this photograph. By the time this photo was taken, I was aggravated, exhausted and sweating from the set lights. Of course, looking at this picture you would never guess at the inconvenience it caused.
Bye, Bye iPhone.
I absolutely love this photo because it marks the beginning of the Euro Trip my boyfriend and I took earlier this year. For 2+ weeks, we made our way from Rome to Venice, Amsterdam to Paris; staying at hotels and hostels along the way. Upon arriving in Rome, we stayed for 1-2 nights at a beautiful hotel by the Colosseum before moving to another hotel by the Roma Termini station. On the day of check out, we decided to walk to the new hotel as we had packed light enough (one roller-board and two backpacks) and cherished the opportunity to see Rome on foot. A few minutes after this photo was taken, I tripped, fell and landed on my poor iPhone, which cracked in the middle! Bye, bye iPhone.
A photo posted by Nikki Vargas (@pinthemapproject) on
The story behind this photo really started about 24 hours before it was taken. I was en route to the Dominican Republic for an adventure travel press trip and was experiencing one of those “Murphy’s Law” days where everything seemed to go wrong. To start, my red eye flight from NYC was late to depart causing me to land in Miami just 20 minutes before my connecting flight would take off. In a mad rush to catch my next flight, I ran off the plane just to realize at the next gate that (horror of all horrors) I had left my laptop under my seat on my last flight.
After having a mini panic attack, I ran back to my last gate and (thank you, American Airlines) was able to get my laptop. I missed my connecting flight of course, which left me stranded in Miami for the night and one day behind on my press trip. The next morning, I flew to the Dominican Republic and took this photo at my hotel after a long, stressful trip getting there.
A relaxing travel photo that is anything but…
Looks idyllic, right? This photo was taken one early morning in the Dominican Republic. The property was quiet, deserted and I was the first one at breakfast. I had woken up early to grab a bite, go for a swim and to try and snag the perfect “serene” snapshot in one of these beautiful cabanas.
To get this photo, I set up my gorilla claw tripod, put on a 10-second self-timer and ran to the cabana to strike a meditation pose. It took 5 attempts to get this photo; each time leaving me looking more ridiculous than the next, as I would set the timer and run to the cabana.
So always remember, dear reader, that behind those enviable travel photos there are absurd stories and attempts to look perfect! For more stories behind my Instagram photos, check out the BLOGGING section of the site. Your turn! Share a photo and the real story behind it below!