The Impact of Social Media on Travel Expectations in Americans and How To Manage Them

A recent survey among 2,000 American travelers who have taken a foreign trip in the last five years reveals that most respondents have unrealistic expectations of their travels. Shockingly, only 45 percent of those surveyed reported that their most recent trip met or exceeded their expectations. These findings suggest that managing travel expectations is becoming increasingly important.

Social media has also significantly influenced the way people perceive travel. This is evidenced by the fact that 72 percent of respondents believe that social media played a significant role in setting their expectations too high. But travel should not be defined by hashtags and likes alone.

Several travel enthusiasts share their strategies for managing travel expectations and avoiding travel disappointments.

Be in Control

According to Ben Heller, Director of ExquisiteThailand, relinquishing control of travel planning and booking into someone else's hands often leads to the greatest disappointments. To avoid such situations, Heller recommends deciding on travel plans yourself after conducting thorough research.

With so much information available at your fingertips, investing time into understanding what you're getting into is crucial. Planning ahead and eliminating the need for trust, faith, and hope in your travels can prevent disappointments and ensure a satisfying travel experience.

Have a Plan if You Envisage an Issue

Christina Choi is a Korean American pharmacist who works from home and is a mother of two. She has a passion for travel and is a serial memory and functional planner. In her experience, the biggest letdown while traveling with family and friends has been the food.

She believes this is because America has done an exceptional job replicating and even improving the native cuisine of other countries. Additionally, American restaurants often offer an extensive menu. In contrast, foreign countries like Korea tend to have a niche selection of dishes that may not cater to a whole group of travelers.

To avoid this disappointment, Choi ensures that no one in the group reaches a point of hunger by exploring snacks unique to the location or street markets for quick bites. Furthermore, she conducts extensive research on restaurants that cater to everyone in the group based on their preferences. This way, everyone can enjoy the food and have a satisfying dining experience.

Avoid Instagram

Callie Flack, the Co-Founder of Counting Our Footsteps Travel Blog, travels full-time with her fiancé throughout Central and South America. Their journey began in Tulum, Mexico. Callie had set high expectations for the destination due to extensive research, including the use of Instagram, which she says is known for presenting unrealistic expectations through editing and glamorization.

Unfortunately, Tulum did not meet their high expectations, leaving them disappointed.

Now instead of relying on social media to find epic things to do, they rely on realistic and helpful travel blogs for information. They also try not to conduct too much research, in general, to maintain what he describes as a “sense of mystery” when arriving in a new place, leaving room for unexpected, magical moments. Since then, they've not been disappointed by any destination, “so it looks like avoiding Instagram did the trick,” Flack concludes.

Make Your Travels off Season

One reason Kieran Sheridan, founder, and co-owner of GulfPhysio, felt disappointed visiting Amsterdam was the congestion of the place. According to the CEO, when he visited during the Easter vacation, it was jam-packed, noisy, and generally unsettling, a far cry from his expectations.

He notes that some places become overly crowded due to their popularity. Thus he advises that if you have the flexibility, attempt to travel during off-seasons when there are fewer tourists and cheaper costs!

Consult a Travel Expert and Get Travel Insurance

Sheridan observes that “the unexpected” occurs all too often. He advises contacting an experienced travel agent and investing in travel insurance for emergencies like flight cancellations, passport mishaps, or lost luggage.

“Go With The Flow”

When traveling domestically or internationally, adaptability is essential. When we travel, many things are beyond our control, from canceled flights, abandoned luggage, and unpredictable weather. Adopting a “go with the flow” attitude will alleviate the stress associated with these setbacks. A positive mindset helps in “major and minor ways,” shares Mikkel Woodruff, travel enthusiast and content creator.

Step off The Itineraries

Itineraries guide your actions and help you manage your plan more effectively but should leave room for spontaneity. Margaret Ghielmetti, the author of Brave(ish): A Memoir of a Recovering Perfectionist, explains: “When I step off my RecoverING Perfectionist Plan and get (a little) lost, I usually discover something unexpected – plus I get to interact with other humans (if only to ask for directions!).” While having a list of things to do is great, be flexible with your plans and leave room for serendipitous experiences.

Be Strategic About Your Flight Bookings

Select a carrier that offers numerous daily flights to your destination, and plan your trip early. According to Sheridan, booking a flight with an airline that only operates that flight on your travel day is risky. In the event of cancellation, rebooking the flight in time could be challenging and result in a trip interruption.

Manage Travel Expectations

One way to avoid disappointment while traveling is to approach your journey with an open mind and zero expectations. With social media presenting “bucket-list” adventures, Instagram-worthy backdrops, and sensationalized experiences, it's crucial to acknowledge the potential limitations and pitfalls during everyday travel.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Amaka Chukwuma is a freelance content writer with a BA in linguistics. As a result of her insatiable curiosity, she writes in various B2C and B2B niches. Her favorite subject matter, however, is in the financial, health, and technological niches. She has contributed to publications like Buttonwood Tree and FinanceBuzz in the past and currently writes for Wealth of Geeks.