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How Social Media Has Changed Travel

As a 21-year-old avid traveler, I have seen how Instagram has impacted travel.

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I’ve seen how social media has increased people’s incentive to travel. We see all these beautiful pictures in different countries that we may not have even known existed before seeing that post and decide that’s where we want to go next. This new “reality” of traveling is that sometimes people frame pictures to make them look aesthetically pleasing, whether it shows the reality of the actual place or not. We constantly hear warnings like, “don’t believe everything you see online” or “people only post the good things.” I have not only found myself believing what I see online, but also forgotten that there’s always more to a story than what is told in one picture.


I realized just how Instagram affects how we think about certain places after I took a week-long vacation to Cuba, and it was completely different to what I expected. I had an image in my head of colorful city buildings, bold bright outfits, and glamorous Havana nights. While this trip to Cuba was unforgettable, it was not what I saw on Instagram. The highlight of Cuba was the people. I went with one other friend, and our experience would not have been the same if the people weren’t so kind and open. We became friends with our taxi driver and he helped us out throughout the whole week. He told us the ins and outs of the country and the reality of life in Cuba. There might have been a few colorful doors throughout the streets here and there, but the reality was that the streets were stricken with poverty. The glamour is a facade of what people think Cuba still is without realizing the current reality of the Cuban people. I remember walking down the streets of Havana and looking into the empty stores and wondering why they were even there. I learned that these were grocery markets that were empty because the owners couldn’t afford to keep enough stock to fill the walls.

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Cuba had so much beauty from the crisp blue beaches to the simple green countryside. It had so much culture from the kindness of the locals to the music blasting on the streets from their nightly family gatherings. Cuba was not what I expected, but I learned a huge lesson from the trip. Don’t believe everything you see on social media! I now know to always go to a new place without expectations. There is genuine beauty in every place I have traveled to, and it is so much clearer with a completely open mind not framed by what you see on social media.

 

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