Instagram travel models – an introduction

I first joined the community of travel bloggers in 2016. Posting photos of my travels – and of myself – on every form of social media was the least of my priorities. My main passion lay in writing about the trips I’d taken, along with capturing images that matched my words. Whether I received a ‘like’ or not on social media was irrelevant; I was simply content seeing my work published.

Fast forward a few years, and my attitude towards social media slowly has changed. I realised the importance of staying present in a saturated market, along with the challenges of regularly uploading fresh content. Through social media, I saw the many advantages of using the platform as a travel writer to reach a wider audience. To this day, it’s still as rewarding to connect with bloggers, travelers and those who want to travel more.

Back in the day…

I was a late bloomer when it came to jumping on board the Instagram bandwagon. I’d been a happy ‘twitterer’ for a few years, but realised I was limiting my potential of connecting with more people.

Within days of signing up – and uploading pictures – to Instagram, I quickly began gaining likes as well as followers. Most were from travel-related backgrounds (bloggers, photographers), while others came from industry. It was overwhelming – in a good way – to receive praise from like-minded people in the travel community.

travel bloggers: yoga on beach

Perfectly posed photos… courtesy of a professional photographer

In the last year or so however, I began noticing a growing trend on Instagram. There were an increasing number of profiles showcasing young, beautiful, mainly female ‘travel bloggers’ sharing photographs of their trips. Most photos followed a similar pattern: immaculate-looking hosts sharing images of themselves in typically luxury resorts. While this may not sound like anything out of the ordinary, it quickly became clear that they weren’t travel bloggers. They’re actually models posing as travel bloggers, getting paid to promote the resort and whatever product they’re trying to sell.

Models selling products is nothing new, and my issue isn’t with them – after all, they also need to work. My issue is that while these profiles attract more attention, it’s the authentic travel bloggers/writers/photographers that potentially lose out.

 

 

I’m over it.

For me, these profiles take attention away from those of us driven by our love of travel, not by sponsorships.

Maybe I’m a lone case, but I actually don’t take any inspiration from the model-led travel instagrammers. I too have stayed in luxury resorts, and sipped on bespoke cocktails by an Olympic-sized swimming pool. I’ve also taken walks on beaches at sunset – just without a professional photographer following me.

Where I do take inspiration, is from the bloggers who share their vibrant, if flawed, images. The shot of pure happiness when trying a new experience for the first time. The photos of a gritty outdoor food market, and images of steaming bowls of deliciousness. I’m inspired by bloggers that are always smiling, natural, and clearing enjoying that moment.

Travel bloggers: my kind of travel

My kind of travel

Ultimately, they understand how travel’s the best education, and how it has the power to change someone’s perspective.

If you’re a young, beautiful and authentic travel blogger, then all the more power to you. I support anyone blogging and posting images that are solely about their passion for travel, and not just for a pay cheque.

To end, I wanted to share a few of my favourite travel instagrammers:

@Worldwithnoborders @victor.m.l.a @thewanderlustbug, @brynstagramming, @paulaespindolas, @thecitysidewalks @pandatheworld as well as this beautiful traveling model @1andrianna1

And this is mine – just in case you wanted to follow!

If you like, or even haven’t liked what you’ve read, then get in touch below – I’d love to hear from you.

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63 Comments

  1. Nicole Anderson | Camping for Women

    You make a lot of great points here. It’s the same old story of promoting body beautiful over substance of content or authenticity. I’m not sure what, if anything, can be done about it but at least take heart that the more sophisticated and experienced readers/viewers will appreciate the difference.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      I totally agree with you Nicole. I feel there’s so much pressure already as women to look a certain way, and social media exacerbates this only 100%! Still, I’m always happy to show love to the travel bloggers who are model like, I never discriminate! Thank you for commenting.

  2. My Travelogue by Bhushavali

    So damn true! I totally relate to you! I too was a pure blogger and did not bother about social media. I joined insta hardly a few months back! Ever since, as you say, I’ve seen so many models having a huge follower-ship than actual bloggers who post pictures of places and food and culture!!! Heading over to check your fav instagrammers! May I request you to have a look at my insta too when you find time?

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Hi, and thank you for your comments! So glad to know it’s not just me who feels this way! Absolutely, I will check out your instagram, thanks again for commenting 🙂

  3. Natasha

    I tend to feel totally inferior when I see these pictures. There is no way I could ever look like that, pose like that or have pictures of such amazing quality. I wish it was a bit more fair and the chunky ladies like me had as many followers haha

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Aww don’t feel that way Natasha; I think they’re amazing photos, but honestly I enjoy the photos that are more natural, and show (female) travel bloggers comfortable and happy in their own skin! Thank you for commenting 🙂

  4. James

    It’s funny because I was reading an article in The Sun the other day about this subject. In some of the images with a beautiful woman (or man) in a stunning location, they showed what the location actually looked like when the camera zoomed out. There was one example of a girl who appeared to be in a jungle and she was actually next to a wall on a street. I will check out some of the Instagram accounts you’ve recommend.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks James, I really appreciate it! ha, no way, I’d never thought some of those photos would be fake. Honestly, makes me feel a bit better hehe! Appreciate your comments.

  5. Umberta

    Instagram is my favorite social media, I find a lot of inspiration there. I’ve never thought there were “fake” travel bloggers neither I worry about them… I mean everyone is free to post what they want & everyone is free to follow who they want. There’s enough space for everyone out there in my opinion 🙂

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks Umberta, absolutely, Instagram is for everyone. My only point is that I feel that these ‘grammers’ take away some of the limelight to those of us working hard to share our travel stories, and all without a professional photographer, big sponsorship etc. Thanks for commenting!

  6. Abhinav Singh

    So good to see someone speak about this. I am bored of seeing glamourous pictures of travel bloggers who hide most of the destination behind their frame. I am sad to see that real travel is missing from instagram travel accounts thanks to the narcissism and brand obsessions of the bloggers.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thank you for your comment Abhinav, it’s good to know I’m not alone in how I feel about this. I agree, the narcissistic element of social media has taken over and it’s a shame really. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  7. Cat

    Well said, Lisa. I am so tired of seeing beautiful pictures of female models on Instagram, selling a destination/hotel because they are paid by the sponsors. Travel should be more genuine. IMO, pose photos like that should belong to magazines where people can clearly identify as advertisement!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks Cat! It’s something that really does bug me, and like I said, it takes attention away from those of us genuinely wanting to share our stories, and attract organic engagement! Many thanks for taking the time to comment.

  8. Indrani

    You spoke for many like me who are struggling with genuine travel pics to catch some attention. ISeeing the pics it is confusing whether they are fashion bloggers or travel bloggers. No harm in posting pics but my wish would be don’t call yourself a travel blogger.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Well said Indrani. No harm whatsoever, but be genuine as to what they’re representing, and whether they’re being sponsored! Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  9. Archana Singh

    I couldn’t have agreed more than this. I really hate these “wannabe travelers”. I mean if you are a lifestyle blogger then stay that way. We intrude a territory, which is clearly not. I am so glad you brought this topic.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Agreed Archana! It’s just a small bugbear of mine, but there’s room for all of us authentic travel bloggers! Thanks for stopping by, it’s much appreciated.

  10. Robert

    Some very good points and nicely written article Lisa. I don’t spend a great deal of time on Instagram, but have noticed exactly what you have mentioned here about professional models used. I only follow real travel bloggers and enjoyed reading their travel adventures and real photos taken as well. Rob 🙂

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks Rob, I always like hearing from fellow authentic travel bloggers! If truth be told, I’d also not spend too much time on Instagram, but it’s all part of the travel blogger package! Many thanks for commenting.

  11. Saint Facetious

    I’ve noticed the same thing. And often sometimes just wish I was crazy buff and could just wear tank tops to get the follows. But wo, I’m a dude with a large beer gut. Then I realize, I’d rather be a dude with a large beer gut than have 1000 likes on an empty, meaningless model shoot which only serves as an IG photo.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Excellent response! I wish we could all embrace ourselves as we are, and take comfort that none of us are perfect. I feel that when we’re natural, we’re happier in our own skin 🙂

  12. Vick Fichtner

    I completely agree with you. I`ve been traveling and photographing for years, but just recently – very recently, less than 6 months – really took the jump into trying to make it a business. My main motivation is to share all the thousands and thousands of beautiful images I took during all those years, and in doing this, I also rediscovered my pleasure in writing.
    But then lately I`ve been feeling a little discouraged about this, almost insecure, and well, Instagram has the blame for that. Not exactly the platform, but exactly what you`re talking about here: All those perfect-looking “travel bloggers” who appear perfect in every shot, and who wear long white dresses while climbing the Everest – I just HATE those fake, ridiculous and unreal photos. And I`m actually writing a post about this when I found your post here – thanks for liking my page on Facebook by the way! 😉

    But just so you know, I actually not only read your blog, I`ll also start following you. I like the way you think!

    Cheers,

    Reply
    • Lisa

      That’s so encouraging to hear, thank you Vick! I love your Instagram feed, and think you’re beautiful in your photos by the way! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment on this, I can really feel your sentiment about the subject! You’re awesome Vick, thanks for following! 🙂

  13. Emily Luxton

    Yep, 100% agree! You already know my thoughts on all this, but I love your post. I hate that instagram is turning into one big ad. Too many perfect, well dressed little models selling watches or outfits or luxury resorts. I want the world, ugly or beautiful! No offence to all the pretty bloggers out there but travel blogging is about much more than just looking nice on a beach!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks Emily! It means so much that you took the time to read my post! I was feeling so frustrated when I wrote it, and it’s not me bitching – I’m just tired of people not being authentic!

  14. Yukti

    I truly agree with you on how luxury places or beach resorts shows models with skimpy clothes to pomote their tourism. I really hate those ads because from those ads we don’t get the true essence of the place. Sometimes it look good to show a nice beach babes but not always. There are many other things to promote like local culture, local cuisine and a raw beautiful nature.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      So great to read that you agree with my piece! It’s great for the models that need to work, but for us mere travel bloggers working hard to promote our work, it can be disheartening at times!

  15. Samah

    I really like the points you’ve made here – back in my broke uni days I used to look at travel bloggers (models) who were mostly my age and wonder how they travelled and posted beautiful, bright pics for a living. And then I started travelling blogging and realized everything about sponsorship and all that. A lot of things on social media aren’t real and some models look that toned when they’re in certain poses and ofc editing. I agree there’s a difference between those wanting To experience travel authentically and those doing it for “the ‘gram”.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thank you so much! When writing this, I didn’t want to approach from an angle of ‘hate’ or ‘jealousy’ but more from a travel blogger perspective. It’s so important to not get drawn in by the over-doctored photos, and best to focus on the beauty of travel.

  16. Niamh

    Very well said and I completely agree. Taking great photos and getting a free holiday in return is very different from blogging about your travels.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thank you! It’s nice to meet another blogger who agrees 🙂

  17. Marvi

    Good points! I rarely spend time on Instagram because of 1. I’m lazy posting pictures and 2. I barely have time getting that perfect picture for IG alone (personally I’d rather save that on my blog photos. LOL). I guess that’s what makes social media so popular now. It somehow give us the opportunity to ‘filter’ the truth and present images that are (not really fake) but not entirely truthful either. Kudos to you for pointing this out btw. I guess we travel bloggers need an extra love (and maybe more acknowledgment) on the effort we put into our posts for our audience in general.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Trust me, I know exactly what you mean! Also, I do agree that we bloggers don’t get the recognition for all the hard work we do. And also kudos to the bloggers who are also models, there’s plenty of love to go around!

  18. Nathan

    Great to hear that someone shares a similar perspective as me. I started my travel blog recently to share my travelling escapades and some tips for others to take reference from when they are planning their vacations to the same destination. It doesn’t really bother me about those models who are paid to do advertisements, as long as I know I’m doing my share to help the travelling community 🙂

    Reply
    • Lisa

      I totally agree! Keep up the amazing work, and photos too!

  19. Danik

    Fantastic points here and I am so glad we are on the same length wave. I cant stand these ‘models’ posing as ‘travel bloggers’ – its all fake. Love to see the real ‘person’ behind the blog. 🙂

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thank you! So encouraging to read I’m not alone 🙂

  20. Constance

    Argh, I totally agree with you! I recently started blogging even though I’ve always written reviews for places on Yelp and TripAdvisor… finally decided it was time to own my own content. And then I finally get myself onto Instagram and there are all these models promoting things! I doubt they even enjoy the sponsored places they get to go to because they’re so busy taking all these posed photos of themselves. While I’ll be the first to admit I don’t try to make things look better on IG, but they’re definitely not overly curated. I usually give myself 5-10 minutes to take a good shot, nothing more, if it still doesn’t look as great as I’d liked, well too bad, I just move on. Hopefully there will soon be a rise for authenticity on Instagram and a call for real experiences rather than the fake. Love your IG feed, by the way! 🙂

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thank you Constance for your lovely message! I agree about not spending too much time to get the perfect shot on IG; life’s too short! Thanks for the compliment on my IG profile; follow me and I’ll follow back x

  21. Aleksandra

    thank you for the article, what you say is really important. Sometimes coming back from travels i look at the pictures and feel a bit upset it might look not glamorous or too exciting, but then i remember the real moments of joy i had and start to feel great again. 🙂

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Aww that’s great to read! It’s so important to remember why you love to travel, and blog too, if that’s part of your journey.

  22. Sherrie Fabrizi-Allbritten

    I agree, agree and agree! I too would rather see photographs of the sites, views and real life while traveling. The models sometimes get in the way. I also have noticed reading some blogs that there is definitely some reporting that the person writing has not actually gone to the location, they seem to be just grabbing information from the web and putting a article together. Sad 🙁

    Reply
    • Lisa

      I totally agree Sherrie. It’s unfair to those of us who really put the work in. Maybe one day, people will see through it…

  23. Neha Verma

    This is such a harsh reality. Particularly for travel instagrams. People are interested in the sites and places, not really the models. That’s why we refrain from posting our own pictures on our travel instagram site

    Reply
  24. Ami Bhat

    I get what you are saying Lisa. And I agree with what you concluded as well – for a true traveler, the place and its culture is what makes a difference. At the end of the day, this is what they seek and find us. Ultimately, for people like us , it is slow growth but it sure is solid and consists of devout followers. More power to travel!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thank you Ami, and totally agree! Maybe the days of those kind of accounts will tire and they’ll move on to something else!

  25. shylo

    Crazy true! I’ve been getting tired of instagram lately for this very reason. It doesn’t seem to be authentic anymore. I want to see people’s REAL travel experiences, not ones taken specifically for the gram. While their photos are absolutely beautiful, they were taken by some photographer, not by themselves. Thanks for writing this, it’s nice to know a lot of other people think the same!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thank you so much for your feedback! Honestly, it’s so good to read someone else who agrees. There’s zero jealousy involved – as I said, models need work too! But make room for those of us who take our own pictures, without a photographer around! x

  26. Epepa Travel Blog

    I agree with you. And I think these IG profiles of models in many cases are… boring. I also do not travel with a professional photographer. I take pictures myself or my husband makes them

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Yes! Me too! I find them dull, staged and predictable! It’s great to know I’m not the only one, thanks for your comments! x

  27. Miranda - The Common Wanderer

    You absolutely had our support on this – we’re sick of the lack of authenticity on IG etc too! – until you mentioned riding elephants and lent your support to a cruel and unethical industry. Please educate yourself better on what happens to these animals, and the torture they go through for your ride.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks for your comment, and yes, I made a mistake on that! I definitely learned and would never do it again.

  28. Lauren

    I have to agree on the elephant riding…. travel bloggers have done a wonderful job on helping to educate people on how unnecessarily cruel this practice is, and how it’s supported 100% by tourist dollars. Let me know if you’d like me to send you links to some articles about this topic!

    As for Instagram…just post photos you love and stay true to yourself. I’ve been travel blogging since 2013 as well. I’m no model – I’m 35, and I have a curvy short girl body. I just love posting photos of interesting places that I visit along with my stories and I have quite a few followers on IG! I think that some people love following people they can relate to, and in some occasions, that’s ‘average’ looking people doing extraordinary things 🙂

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Thanks Lauren. I made a mistake there, and now I know about it, would never entertain the idea again. I’m in the same boat, and will keep doing my thing, and will leave the models to it!

  29. Alaine

    Yes! Thank you for writing about this. Its a weird time to be on Instagram as a travel blogger with all the perfectly posed photos. I like sharing the visual aspect on Instagram. When I discover an Instagram belonging to Insta-models that are way too perfect and should be in an advertorial, it feels disengaging and too sterile.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Tell me about it! It’s so boring, and that’s no offence to the models. They’re beautiful and I get they need a job too! But it’s fueling the unrealistic nonsense that we keep seeing on social media.

  30. Mia

    Thank you for sharing your thought ls about this! I take great pride in showing my travels and my stories through my channels—when it comes to Instagram, I feel like it’s an uphill battle trying to get my voice out there if I don’t look a certain way or have a perfectly posed photo.

    The models do what they have to do—I just wish companies saw more value in a variety of experiences that don’t always look like a Sports Illustrated cover!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      YES! I have nothing against the models; it’s just I want the authentic photos and experiences to get the limelight too 🙂

  31. Hannah Stephenson

    I love this and really enjoyed your post! It gave me a ‘thank god I’m not the only one’ feeling… I’ve just started out, but sometimes I feel a bit hopeless because I know I’ll never be one of those girls!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Aw thanks Hannah! Trust me, I won’t ever be one either, and that’s ok with me 🙂 Find your passion and stick to it. We can’t all be the same, so if you love taking photos of yourself on your travels, and posting them, do it! You’ll be surprised by how many ‘normal’ people like us will appreciate them x

  32. Annick

    I love your honesty! I’m a 50-year old, overweight travel blogger. I’m not a professional photographer, nor does one travel with me. I also try not to hide what a place really looks like – if it’s crowded or the colors aren’t as vibrant as I’d hoped. It’s tough to compete! By the way, you’re beautiful and can give those models a run for their money!

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Lol aw thanks Annick! I’ll let them continue doing their thing, I’m happy to write, take photos, and keep sharing my travel photos, and not of me. It’s becoming a bit much now, but thankfully, I’m strong-minded enough to move beyond it 🙂

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