Students, parents ponder expectations that come with traveling, explain how photos on social media create them


Sarah Zheng

Although many students find traveling one or two times a year enough to grasp different cultures and places, sophomore Annie Salter travels with her family roughly four to five times a year to a variety of places.

“We usually travel to many exotic and tropical places because it’s an escape from real life,” Annie said. “We travel to different cities to be able to see different countries, new cultures and experience new things.”

On her trips Annie said that she enjoys taking vacation photos because they remind her of her experiences as a family since her siblings are all in college and her dad works, but she said she does travel with certain expectations, especially when it comes to the photos.

“I do have a Pinterest board that I like to look at for traveling, so I usually tend to think these places will be amazing, which I’ve usually been quite impressed with,” Annie said. “Every time, they’ve met my expectations, and everywhere I’ve gone has been beautiful and something new I’ve never seen before.”

Uma Kandallu
Sophomore Annie Salter shows her Pinterest board to sophomore Julia Miller during SRT. Salter said she uses social media for photography inspiration when traveling.

Rather than using pictures that Annie sees online as expectations, she said since she is a photographer, she uses online photos as inspiration for potential photos she may take.

“Instagram photos aren’t necessarily the reason why I have expectations,” Annie said. “I don’t base my opinion of a place on the photos I see.”

Senior William Pugh, on the other hand, said he usually travels six or seven times a year on an airplane and travels 10 times in a year by car. Both Annie and Pugh have similar reasons why they travel: to relax and find new experiences regardless of expectations of photos.

“One of the reasons why we go on vacation is to relax but also leave Indiana,” Pugh said. “I personally find Indiana really boring. We also travel to find new experiences, see different perspectives and see the world in general.”

Annie said that seeing photos on the internet or on social media, as well as having expectations when going on vacation, is a positive aspect.

“I think the photos are mostly a positive thing, because going into something and knowing what you’re going to get, based on the photos you see, you won’t be disappointed,” Annie said. “My parents used to travel a lot and they told me that they would go places and would expect something and get there and it’d be entirely different, which is exciting for some people.”

However, Pugh said he thinks overall seeing photos and creating expectations in your mind is usually negative because during your trip you will be focused on fulfilling those expectations instead of enjoying it.

“I think in a way expectations can be negative because social media is definitely a place where we tend to share the best moments of our life, and we want to make our lives seem amazing when in reality we’re all going through something,” Pugh said. “That can hurt too because if it doesn’t live up to the way it looks in a photo that can be bad.”

Annie’s father, John Salter said he agrees with both Pugh and Annie’s explanation of why vacation is important as well as the expectations that come with it.

“I think if you get on Trip Advisor or any other vacation websites and you look at the destination you already have your mind made up of what it would be like,” Mr. Salter said. “Social media and reading other people’s reviews creates an already made up perspective. If I get there and it’s not quite what I was expecting, I’m let down a little, but it only influences how I go into the experience.”

Although Annie said that expectations can be a positive aspect of vacation and Pugh said it tends to be a negative aspect, Mr. Salter said it can be both a negative and positive perspective on vacation.

Mr. Salter said, “If you are going in knowing what to expect, you may have had a more planned experience, but at the same time it could be negative, because you go in with a mindset that this destination will be amazing, and it disappoints you.”

Pugh said that expectations can close off the overall perspective of the situation about why you are traveling in the first place and that’s the main reason why he finds photos online to be negative.

“If I go into something seeing that someone had a lot of fun and I didn’t have as much fun, then it’s closed off and I’m not able to have my own experience and develop my own feelings,” Pugh said.

Both Annie and Pugh said that having expectations comes with the experience, but it shouldn’t take over the experience of traveling.

“I just want to emphasize that the grass is not always greener on the other side,” Pugh said. “It’s extremely important (to be) focused on bettering your experience and creating your own experience.”

Annie Salter
(Submitted Photo) Sophomore Annie Salter (left) poses with her siblings Lucy (center) and Sam Salter (right) while on vacation in Terre, Italy. Salter said she enjoys taking photos while she is on vacation for the memories but usually tries to focus on living in the moment.