Insta Boyfriends For Hire And Trips Planned Around The Perfect Picture: How Social Media Is Hijacking Our Holidays

A whole tourism industry is springing up off the back of our obsession with social media - including holidays that come complete with an insta-boyfriend

Instagram boyfriends

by Clare Thorp |

Earlier this year, I took a ridiculously scenic train ride up the coast of California. As we trundled along the shoreline, passing empty beaches and rocky cliffs, the sun bouncing off the Pacific Ocean, I did what anyone would do. I reached for my phone.

I soon had a 15-second video and a dozen or so near-identical photos of the idyllic view. I even positioned my beer in shot for the ultimate ‘look how amazing this is’ picture. Then I remembered. In an attempt to scale back my digital life, I’d deactivated my Instagram and Facebook accounts. Which meant there was nowhere to post them. Which meant no one would know how amazing it was but me. It was the first holiday in a long time that wouldn’t be documented online in some format – whether in one of those entire albums of photos that we used to upload in the early days of Facebook or in carefully composed and hashtagged Instagram shots.

Even as a sporadic social-media user, I’ve always managed to share a snap of that perfect Greek sunset. And don’t pretend you haven’t too. Indeed, sharing our pictures on social media has become as much a part of our holidays as slapping on the factor 50. Research by Easyjet found that 55% of people have booked holidays based on pictures they’ve seen on social media, and for a third of us, our biggest concern when planning a trip is how nice the pictures will look. It’s no longer enough to enjoy our holiday – everyone else has to see how great it is, too. If a tree falls during a girls’ trip to the New Forest and no one uploads an Insta-story, does it even make a sound?

Even celebs aren’t immune. Just last week, model Kendall Jenner was spotted putting more effort into her Insta-game than her suntan on a group trip to Mykonos. Indeed, Instagram is now such a big influence on travel that companies specifically cater to the Millennials’ thirst for #content. Travel company Be Right Back plans surprise trips for people who pay a subscription, and says a great Instagram feed is one of their customers’ biggest motivations. ‘One of our most popular trip types is called 4thegram,’ says co-founder Gregory Geny. ‘We pick destinations based on shots that will make your account look amazing.’ And there are hotels – like Ibiza’s Wi-Ki-Woo, a favourite of Lottie Moss and ultra-grammable, with its kitsch pink and green decor – which have been especially designed to lure the social media set. Meanwhile, a company in Italy called Roma Experience offers city tours with an ‘Instagram Boyfriend’ – ie, someone who’ll follow you around and squat down to get that perfect shot – just in case you haven’t already got an unofficial photographer of your own.

For 29-year-old Yasmin Dick, who works for a tech start-up and writes lifestyle blog Generation Avocado, a holiday isn’t a holiday without good fodder for Instagram. ‘There is a pressure not just to be able to tell people that you had a really good time, but to provide evidence that it really was as amazing as you said, and that evidence is the perfect photograph,’ she says. However, a recent holiday to Cappadocia, Turkey – which plays host to a spectacular hot air balloon festival – was a wake-up call. ‘They send up 80 to 100 balloons at sunrise. It’s stunning,’ says Yasmin. She had seen the many gorgeous Instagram shots – which made her want to go. But as she got up at 5am to take her own photo from a hotel rooftop, she was shocked to find hordes of people dressed up to the nines jostling for the perfect picture. ‘One hotel put out a fake breakfast so people could pretend to eat it with the balloons in the background. It did make me wonder what on earth I was doing, standing in a queue to get a photograph instead of just enjoying the moment.’

Then there’s the person who has to take all the pictures. For Yasmin, that’s her Fiancé Tyrone. ‘I’m mostly happy to do it,’ he says. ‘But I don’t enjoy getting up at 4am to get the perfect photo or doing 23 takes of the same picture.’ Our growing obsession with getting the perfect Instagram shot has also been blamed for causing over-tourism at destinations that can’t cope with hordes of selfie seekers. Instagram accounts like Insta-Wrecked compare the perfect photo with the reality behind it – like huge crowds and piles of litter. And while we might assume taking the perfect picture will capture the moment forever, research has shown that taking photos of a situation can actually impair our memory of it.

So perhaps it’s time to put down our camera-phones for a moment and just enjoy our holidays. By all means, take pictures – but take them for you, not the several hundred strangers who follow you on Instagram. On that train journey, once I realised I wouldn’t be sharing any photos, I sat back, stared out of the window and simply enjoyed the view. It was really incredible... and you’ll just have to take my word for it

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Piper House, Stamford

Quite literally a big hose in the country. It's a converted granary with enough space to sleep you and 15 of your nearest and dearest. There is also a tennis court if you and your mates are that way inclined. £380 per night

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