A few years ago, a close friend and I were having coffee and sharing stories about our friends from high school. One friend in particular had recently come back from her honeymoon, and we were all commenting on how fabulous it looked. However, my friend—one to rarely say anything negative or harsh—made an interesting comment: “It looked amazing, but she should NOT be posting while on her honeymoon.” I was a little stunned. Our friend went to one of the most beautiful and expensive places in the world, why would she not want to show her trip off? Did my friend know some sort of honeymoon rule that I didn’t?
When it came time for my own honeymoon, I took her rule to heart. We had been married just two days prior, and were having fun looking at the pictures and videos our guests were posting from our wedding. But when it came time for our flight to take off to Spain, we both completely deleted Instagram and Facebook from our phones. After doing this again for our first anniversary trip, I don’t think I’ll ever go back. Our anniversary trip was to Bali, which is arguably the most Insta-worthy place in the world, but it was so worth it to delete the apps. Here’s my experience, and why you might also enjoy deleting social media apps when you travel—despite how glamorous and enviable your trip may be.
I felt I was giving our trip the justice it deserved
At first it was hard. My thumb immediately went to the spot where my social media apps used to live on my phone. I mean, what was I supposed to do when my new husband was in the shower? How would I get the updates and news from back home? What was everyone else up to?
Besides checking in with my family, none of that really mattered. After about day two, I started reading the books I’d brought with when I had down time. Instead of waiting for my husband to shower, I got right in with him (score for your honeymoon!). I found we spent much less time in the hotel room and more time exploring the beauty outside.
I fully experienced the places I visited without worrying about the best shot
Instagram has become so polarized in what is good enough to post. Instagram pictures often look like professional pictures—so much so that you can’t just post a normal photo from your iPhone that doesn’t have the perfect filter. At times, I’ve felt that I had to get the perfect shot, with the perfect lighting, the perfect timing, without any other tourists—you get the idea. It’s utterly exhausting and just not worth it. The less time I spent worrying about getting the right shot, the more I actually got to see and enjoy the beauty around me. The Balearic Islands of Spain and the beaches and rice paddies of Bali are places you don’t want to miss out on because you’re trying to show your followers just how awesome your vacation is.
But, we still took pictures
We took a TON of pictures. Since the pressure was off, I was 100 percent good with taking bathing suit pictures, morning pictures eating breakfast without makeup, and the selfies with our moped helmets on. These pictures wouldn’t gather the attention on social media, but they were ours and they better captured our trips. My husband was really good at remembering to take videos, which captured the scenery and our experience even better than the photos. The videos weren’t meant to be shared, so we weren’t acting for the camera, but rather being our usually silly selves—and they’re some of my favorite things to look back on.
I literally couldn’t compare my vacation, my bikini body, or my pictures with anyone else.
My husband and I worked hard for these vacations. We spent hours planning, months saving up, and all the time and effort we put in to ensure that we had PTO and coverage. I gave up a lot of pizza and a lot of chai lattes to feel good about how I looked. And then to fly across the world and get on my phone and still think my pictures aren’t as good as someone else’s? Yeah, no thanks. Someone is always going to have better pictures than you do, but while you’re on vacation, save yourself the crummy feeling of comparing that always seems to creep up when you’re checking social media.
It was SO much better for our relationship
The point of this whole experiment was based on my friend’s honeymoon rule. For us, after our wedding, we were now the number one priority in each other’s lives, and this was a trip to celebrate that. It felt cheesy and out of balance to be focusing on posting, likes, and showing off our trip when we really should be just focusing on us—so that’s exactly what we did. We spent so much more time in intimate moments, whether physically or emotionally, that would have been spent on our phones. That’s why we worked hard for this trip: this is what was waiting for us at the end of the altar.
We still posted when we were back
About a day after we got back, I posted a few pictures and some captions showing what we did. However, once we were back, it didn’t seem so important to show everyone how great our trip was. We lived it, we took the pictures, we had the memories, and then we moved on to our next adventure (which, after our honeymoon, was a seven-day road trip across the country to our new home—no time to keep posting!).
However, I’ve found it is important to share to some. Before we went on our trips, our family and close friends all reminded us to take pictures. At first I thought they were just being cliche, but I found they were serious and really did want to enjoy the photos just as much as we wanted to enjoy the memories. I got better at understanding that, and for our anniversary trip we created a shared album through Apple with all our pictures and videos so our close friend and family could see them. It was the perfect way to show the people that cared most what our trip really looked like without feeling the pressure to post the perfect shot.
It was a good break
A vacation is meant to be a break from reality—from work, from the things that make you anxious, and for us, from social media. Leading up to our anniversary trip, I felt like I was spending too much mindless time on Instagram and Facebook. By not having the ability to check it for 10 days, I gave myself a little detox. Since arriving back home, I found I just don’t enjoy or need it like I used to, and replaced the time spent on social media with more time on things I actually want to do.
In 2012, I studied abroad in Rome and met six of my closest friends—one of whom is actually my husband (yes, we did play songs from The Lizzie McGuire Movie at our wedding). In 2012, Instagram was just starting to become popular, and cellular data was not readily available abroad. My friends, husband, and I all agree that because of this, we were forced to fully engage, become fast friends, and have a once-in-a lifetime experience; but that if we had access to our phones the whole time, it could have been much different. Challenge yourself to fully embrace your hard-earned trip, the sites, the people, and the overall experience—you never know what it could lead to!