What happens when people use TikTok and Instagram to make travel plans

Nearly a third of travelers turn to social media for holiday inspiration, according to a new study.

This number is even higher for younger travelers. About 60% of Generation Z and 40% of millennials use social media for travel purposes, according to an April 2022 report by travel agency Arrivia.

On TikTok alone, the “travel” hashtag boasts 74.4 billion views, while about 624 million Instagram posts are also about travel.

But there’s a darker side to those flawless social media travel photos. Expectations may not match realitywith many The photos have been edited to look better than reality.

Frustrated travelers are now returning, using the very means that led them astray. They are publishing their own videos that show what the perfect social media places really look like in real life.

A town in a Disney movie?

Garcia made a humorous TikTok video documenting her visit to the city, showing a dirty gas station and run-down buildings, though she notes that she focuses on “not so nice” areas. ” by Gastonia.

“You always think, okay, you see this happen to other people, but it never happens to you – I’m smart enough to know when things are real and when things aren’t,” she says. speak.

Since her video went viral, Garcia has spoken to the mayor of Gastonia, who offered to take her on a tour of the town should she return. She also appeared on “The Kelly Clarkson Show” to share her experiences.

“Do your research… because you might end up going somewhere you don’t want to,” Garcia said. “[And] Don’t believe everything you see on the internet. “

A ‘beautiful, hidden garden pool’

30-year-old travel blogger Lena Tuck also fell victim to a beautifully crafted TikTok video.

While driving from Brisbane to Melbourne, Tuck said she made the impromptu decision to visit a “beautiful garden pool” she had seen on TikTok – the Yarrangobilly Caves heated swimming pool walkway.

She said: “It looks like a strange place where topless men will feed you grapes or something like that.

But on the drive there, her phone lost signal – meaning she had no directions to guide her – and she had to drive on a rough, unpaved road for 10 minutes before leaving. walk nearly half a mile down a steep hill.

When she got to the pool, she was surprised to find it packed with families and screaming children, like a public swimming pool, she said.

“All I can think of is how many people have peeed here,” she said in a TikTok video describing the experience.

“It’s … the absolute antithesis of the Instagram experience, and I feel like that’s why the whole experience is so funny,” she told CNBC.

She said she thought people should be spontaneous and open-minded, but warned travelers to “do more research than I could have done.”

Pure water

Photos of the Terme di Saturnia, a group of springs in Italy’s Tuscany region, show beautiful blue water with steam gently rising from it.

But this couldn’t be far from reality, says Ana Mihaljevic, 28.

Her visit was “very much” influenced by social media posts showing a “nearly idyllic” setting, said the self-employed project manager and digital marketer.

But the water is green, smells like rotten eggs from sulfur, and is teeming with tourists taking pictures, presumably on social media, Mihaljevic said.

“It’s definitely not a place to relax,” she added.

Markus Romischer, a 29-year-old travel filmmaker agrees that springs look different on social media. He made a video, tagged “Insta vs. Reality: Europe Edition,” showing his frustrations with Tuscan springs, as well as locations in Switzerland, Madeira, and Rome.

When he saw it in real life, he said he could tell that the online photos were heavily edited. The springs are “warm, the colors are special, but when you just see those social media pictures” the reality is “a bit sad,” he said.

Romischer says early mornings are much less crowded. When he arrived at 6 a.m., there were few people – mostly “old women” – but the afternoon was a different story, he said.

“At noon, so [many] Buses came from everywhere, and it was very full,” he said.

Tourist attractions will always be crowded, says Romischer, who shared a tip to avoid crowds: “Don’t Google ‘what to do in Tuscany’ and go first on the list.”

Like others who have been fooled by images on social media, Mihaljevic advises travelers to do their research.

“If you want to travel without research, that’s okay but be prepared that not everything will be as you see it online,” she says. “Some places will be even better, but some will be disappointing.”

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