We launched our Instagram account a year ago, intending it simply to be a place to store our collection of travel photographs. Photography is what we enjoy the most and sharing it seemed natural.
We didn't have any intention of building a following, or a clear idea of what the end goal would be. We liked looking at others' travel photography and thought they might enjoy ours. It was that simple.
However, what has developed over the past twelve months is something much more than a collection of photos. It has become a travel lifestyle account portraying beautiful destinations and that all-too-familiar 'wanderlust' vibe. Inspirational? We hope so and we do hope we inspire people to travel. Yet recently, as we've welcomed more followers, we've felt a little uneasy: are we portraying a lifestyle that doesn't truly exist?
The thing about Instagram (and most social media) is that it makes you a bit of a liar - whether that's intentional or not. This realisation crept up on us after receiving regular questions inquiring as to how we are able to travel so often and whether we are fabulously wealthy (no, unfortunately. We both work full time). Our Instagram had become a land of beautiful places, vibrant colours and implied freedom, which in reality, was just a very small part of our lives.
Perhaps, therefore, it's time to set the record straight, rebel against the dreamy filters and suspiciously perfect lives possessed by so many 'social media sorts', and suggest that in reality, Instagram is a little bit of a cheat.
Here's what we don't tell you:
1) When we're posting those iconic 'plane wing' photographs, we're simultaneously dying inside. We hate flying. Relaxed, confident travellers, we are not. Our travel bags usually consist of Kalms, Immodium, Gaviscon and Asprin (or in Laura's case, straight up Valium).
2) When we're posting photos day-to-day, we're probably just getting up or returning home from a day at work. Maybe we're stood in the supermarket, staring at cleaning products or lying in front of the TV. Most probably the alarm is going off and we have to be at work in an hour. Largely, though, we are not on a beach.
3) Our lives have been difficult this year and it's been far from a series of holidays and carefree travels. Break-ups, anxiety, notice periods, fires, house moves, a murder next door (yep) and the realities of life, have all featured as the months have rolled past. Life is unpredictable and often difficult. An Instagram account won't change that.
4) Travel is expensive. There is no way around that. We work full time and juggle mortgages with plane tickets. Each trip has to be thought out carefully: how to do it on the cheap and can we afford it? Our content on Instagram isn't sponsored and we haven't looked into advertising, which whilst being something we've deliberately maintained, means we don't hot-foot it around the world for 52 weeks of the year. But that's OK with us.
5) Sometimes we don't like travelling. Sometimes we just want to be in our own beds. Sometimes Claire would rather be at home with her fiancé. Sometimes Laura would like to be at home with her imaginary boyfriend.
So why does this all matter?
The internet is littered with travel blogs, travel vlogs, travel related Instagram accounts and a small circle of travel blog royalty. We've always enjoyed reading this content and it's often inspired us to visit new locations and places.
Yet, so much of the 'travel' depicted on these platforms depends on one type of traveller: a glamorous, ambitious, confident young man or woman, unphased by the stressful realities of travel and willing to spend months apart from family and friends. Apparently nothing worries this sort of traveller. They can go anywhere at a moment's notice and embrace any culture. They are part of that rising breed of 'digital nomads' who call the world their home.
We aren't these sorts of travellers. Furthermore, we never will be. As mentioned, travel can make us anxious and feel stressed. We like to plan our travel carefully and to know what we can expect. We travel inside a strict budget and prefer a museum-based city break to endless white stretches of beach. Sometimes, we get home from a trip and lie on our sofas, happy to be home, surrounded by the familiar and the every day.
However, does that mean we are not considered 'travellers'? We hope not. We are enjoying seeing the world, albeit in our own, uniquely neurotic way. We have always hoped that this outlook encourages others to travel and to travel in a way they want to, when they want to. Travel is for everyone and includes both the good and bad. This is something we always hope to reflect.
Read more at Twins That Travel.