The Reality Of Your Favorite Instagram Photos

They say the secret to happiness is low expectation. That expectation is the thief of joy and the root of all heartache. And if disappointment equals expectation divided by reality, then this post might make you really, really disappointed.

Filter after filter, we are constantly editing our photos to create illusions of places we visit. We have the ability to make everything seem like anything we want. And for the unknown traveler browsing images on Instagram, these exact places get added to an ever-growing wander-list.

I experienced a few of these places and uncovered the reality of your favorite Instagram photos.

Hanging on at Pedra do Telégrafo

Located south of Rio de Janeiro, this short hike takes you to an overhanging rock.


Holding on for dear life.

pedra da telegrafo


I’m 5’2″ (rounded up 😜) and I can touch the ground. Did I mention I had to wait over an hour in line just to get a chance to take photos? And if you take too long on the rock, the locals might start yelling at you in Portuguese.

pedra de telegrafo
pedra de telegrafo

Sunrise at Mesa Arch

You’ll find this pothole arch in Canyonlands National Park, Utah.


A peaceful sunrise.

sunset arch


You successfully get up at  4 a.m. to drive into the park but a bus full of tourists show up before you. Trying to search for space under their arms or between their legs to snap a photo for yourself is like trying to find a skittle in a bag of m&m’s.

arches national park

Exploring Glass Beach

This beach near Fort Bragg, California is abundant in sea glass.


glass beach fort bragg

Shiny. Sparkly. Colorful. Clear.


Most of the glass is clear so you’ll spend time grazing the beach and collecting the most colorful pieces for that Instagram photo (pictured above).

glass beach california

Wildlife Encounters in Alaska 

Alaska is home to some of the land’s largest carnivores.


A wild bear encounter.

bear awcc


Bear encounters in Alaska aren’t as common as you might think. Just south of Anchorage, you’ll have the opportunity to visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center for that epic bear selfie. This place is actually really awesome and supporting it will help preserve Alaska’s wildlife.

alaska wildlife conservation center bear viewing

Purple Sand at Pfeiffer Beach

This beautiful, secluded beach in Big Sur, California has purple sand.


Everything is purple. 

instagram purple beach


Only a small section of the beach actually contains purple sand. You probably won’t be able to fill up that empty vial you have in your pocket.

instagram reality beach

Align your expectations with reality and you’ll never be disappointed because you can finally see things for what they are and not what you want them to be.

Have you traveled somewhere that didn’t end up being what you thought it would be? Let’s chat about it!

You can find all of my filtered photos by following me on Instagram 😁

About Andrea Kuuipo

I was born and raised in Anchorage and have been able to travel to many places around Alaska. As an Alaska Travel Blogger, I love sharing my favorite things to see and do in my home state to help others plan an incredible trip!

8 thoughts on “The Reality Of Your Favorite Instagram Photos”

  1. I’ve been wanting to do a post on Instagram vs Reality lately. I feel like my (our?) generation is so influenced by these highly edited, filtered photos. I know I’m guilty of it. But for travel inspiration, I think it really distorts our expectations for our adventures. We definitely need to be vigilant about keeping our eyes fixed on reality.

    • I completely agree and I’m definitely guilty as well. I think the important thing is to not have expectations! If you end up writing one, let me know. I’d love to link out to it.

  2. I love Instagram versus reality photos! Not really for the informative side of things (although that is usually really interesting and eye opening) but because I think it’s so hilarious! The hanging rock is probably the one I laughed hardest at when seeing “reality” shot for the first time. Having said that, I can’t wait to go and take my own!

    • SO hilarious. The hanging rock was a fun one! I was just on a road trip in Canada and took a few more photos that follow this theme… basically people waiting in long queues to take a single photo. It’s pretty insane. I’m excited for you to take some of your own!

    • Thanks Desirée! Right! When I was at Austin City Limits a couple of weeks ago there was a huge line of people waiting to take a photo in a giant frame instead of enjoying the music! My friend and I ran up to the other side and had my brother snap a quick pic. It’s SO ridiculous.


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