With the evolution of Social Media the formula for the perfect holiday has mutated…

It’s a mutation that becomes uglier with each step back. First comes the shock and mild disgust that nature allowed this to happen, then comes the realization and guilt that you had a hand in developing the habitat for it to flourish in. Kirsteen MacKenzie examines how the not so humble holiday has became less about quality time and more about pictures of the back of your partners head…



Originally published in the denizen magazine

The Environment

Modern vacationing takes place in an open world with more lines of transport and communication than ever. It thrives on social media and revels in the ever-evolving art of exhibitionism.


There was a time before camera phones when the only holiday snaps we had, or even cared for, were group shots at dinner, vistas from the hotel room and pictures of you standing in front of the local landmarks after you had awkwardly asked a fellow tourist for help. There was certainly no inspiration to take photographs of the actual food, no desire to share images of the hotel décor, selfies were only employed when desperate and action shots were out of the question unless you went disposable.


During this time Bali was still considered exotic, as apposed to predictable, and with the exception of Greece SouthEastern Europe (or the Balkans) was where refugees came from, not where tourists flocked. As recently as 2006 Dubai didn’t even make the top 30 busiest international airports, now at number 3 it has the biggest and the Middle East is suddenly on the Insta-map.


Meanwhile advancements in technology have allowed us to capture our holidays from a plethora of new angles, with the addition of the go-pro even making a hero out of hand gesture (Logan Dodds). Combine this with the prevailing vice grip of Social Media demanding we share our vacation instantly, and the PH level of photography in our holidays has turned acidic. The original motives of escape and leisure are drowning in a toxic solution of vanity and over-sharing.


The Formula


A closely guarded insta-secret, the genetic makeup of this mutated holiday DNA can only be guessed by social media plebians such as myself. By my calculations, with the following method any score under 20 is commendable of your time, investment and the interruption of any moment of significant authenticity you may be experiencing. Ultimate bragging rights require a little more effort and candor, as below, and significant thought should go into how you accompany your post in writing.


Rate your destination on the effort put into getting there from your nearest international airport; from 5 for short and relatively simple to 1 for very lengthy and very difficult.


Rate the extremes of your destinations; choose to base your reading on extreme danger, extreme weather, extreme high cost or extreme low cost – from 5 for normal to 1 for extreme.


Off the beaten track

Rate your destination on the rareness of crossing other tourists; estimate how many will you likely see in a day – add 1 for every tourist (subtract 1 for impoverished nation, subtract 1 for war-damaged buildings, subtract 1 for orphans playing football with a plastic bottle).


0 – 5 Ultimate bragging rights

6 – 19 Insta-worthy

20+ Been there, done that; it’s likely a number of your friends and family have done a version of your holiday. Likewise any picture of it already exists making you somewhat unoriginal, but be not deterred there is salvaging of tired destinations in following the latest trends in composition.


The Application


When it comes to Instagram it’s not enough to just have the formula right on your destination, there is a mathematics to growing a following and a science to composing the perfect picture. A simple selfie won’t cut it; you need tone and rhythm and creativity…you need the following 10 images…


  1. The “looking anywhere but the camera”

Note: It’s all about showing how little you care to have your picture taken, a laugh in the face of the likely effort behind hiking to your destination, finding your shot and setting up your tripod and timer.

Destination: Ireland (somewhere rural), Score: 11
Accessibility: 3, Extreme low cost: (van living) 2, Off the beaten track: 6


  1. The “lost in nature” taking it all in from a distance
    Note: Other people ruin things, including pictures. Even the most “has been” of destinations can be made less crowded and more special in the middle of the night (especially where the sun never goes down).

Destination: Norway (Trolltunga), Score: 15
Accessibility: 3, Extreme low cost: (van living) 2, Off the beaten track: 10 (for the early hours effort but considering overall popularity)


  1. The “local child”

Note: these are strangers children and some people find this awkward, or kids generally nauseating. Avoid controversy by keeping your caption fact based.

Destination: Vanawatu (Tanna), Score: 11

Accessibility: 1, Extreme high cost: (yacht life) 1, Off the beaten track: 9 (the other boat guests)


  1. The “back of your partners head”

Note: holding a hand with your partner behind their back is optional, symmetry is desirable and a background of beauty and or interest is obligatory.

Destination: Queensland Australia (Mt.Cooroora), Score: 15

Accessibility: 3 (hike in tough conditions considered), Extreme weather: (heavy rain) 2, Off the beaten track: 10 (in bad weather you’ll find much less competition)


  1. The “silhouette at sunset”
    Note: Incorporate a yoga pose or drink in hand for extra style points

Destination: Italy (Dolomites), Score: 9
Accessibility: 4, Extreme low cost: (van living) 2, Off the beaten track: 3 (who’s hanging out at the side of lone roads these days?)


Meanwhile the numbers don’t lie for @sydneyjetsetstyle with over 19,000 followers:


  1. The “feet first” ambience shot
    Note: because knees look like hotdogs stretch those legs, but make sure you have a decent pedicure for barefoot exposure (this is a life tip in general).

Destination: France (Chamonix), Score: 18

Accessibility: 4, Extreme high cost/weather: (chalet living) 3, Off the beaten track: 11 (only in low season)


  1. The “hotel décor”

Note: If not a hotel, where you lay to rest, but only if Design Folio worthy


  1. The “Airplane window”

Note: A simple, popular and harmless shot for any holiday maker regardless of destination. Will help to build a “story-line” around your trip.


  1. The “food porn”

Note: Smoothies count as a food group. A serving of life colour and stomach panging envy to your time line. Food unites us all.


  1. The “flower market”

Note: Literally fool proof.


The Extreme Climate


Beware the “Insta-Blinders”; if your lens is open but your eyes are closed you’re doing it right (but it’s oh so wrong).


The internet exposes the world to instant current affairs, spotlighting local issues thousands of miles away and introducing them to our realm of responsibility. What is seen cannot be unseen, and certainly cannot be fixed with a filter. In an embarrassing twist our natural human predilection for competition has pushed travellers to these locales in search of the best bragging rights.


Growing numbers of naiive tourists are down playing travel warnings in search of the same brand of “refugee chic” Kanye now has his stamp on. Replacing hot property for hot poverty in faux South Africian Shanty towns and slumming it with the lost children of Syria (so Angelina). In fact, for Australia young travellers aged in the prime instagram demographic of 25 under are statistically the most demanding of consular help, having ignored travel advice not to go to countries that are dangerous and grammed anyway. This wildly astray magnetism to the “extreme” and “authentic” is growing with their following, but making a farce of what the vacation used to be and a joke of foreign affairs.


Open your mind while you’re at it.

In a world where Bruce is Caitlin and #HisNameCayden social and cultural issues sound loud on the global radar. General awareness and keeping its populous in line with accepted racial and sexual stereotypes (close to none) is the modern blessing and curse of Social Media. So, look deeper inward before you publish outward.

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