The Most Cringe-Worthy Travel Trends

When you do a fair amount of travelling, you start to notice trends that make you cringe. Here’s a list of some of the worst travel trends of recent years:

1. Long-distance recreational pet travel

As someone who has cried more over the death of a cat than the loss of a human family member, I would never downplay how much an animal can mean to us humans, but some people have an unhealthy codependency on their pets. When it comes to going on vacation, it’s becoming easier than ever before to travel with them. 37% of pet owners in the USA travel with their pets. 

The last few years we’ve seen relaxed restrictions for in-cabin pets on flights as well as an increase in airline seats that can accommodate pet carriers. We’ve also seen an increase in pet-friendly hotel chains, pet relief areas in airport terminals and even pet passports that allow pets to travel between member countries without having to undergo quarantine. 

All of this has made it easier for pet owners to travel with their furry friends over longer distances. How humane this is, how stressed the animal may be in transit and whether or not any of this is good for the animal’s well-being, often gets lost in cute pictures and even whole deceitfully glamorous Instagram accounts. 

Pet travel - bad travel trends

I'm all for travel mascots but I think people should go with the inanimate object variety.



2. 'Minimalist' travelling 

Then there are people out there trying to prove that one can travel with only the clothes on their backs and a credit card. Actually, I believe you are allowed a backpack. Basically, if you can live for at least 6 months with only as few possessions as you can fit in a carry-on, you are doing it right. 

It also helps if you have enough money to buy and discard all the other things you might need along the way. But nobody makes YouTube tutorials about that part, they just focus on the part where they document the noodling of the three T-shirts they are allowed to wear. There, they’ve uncomplicated their lives by ridding themselves of those possessions that hold other people back! (Except, it can actually equate to being quite contradictorily complicated and wasteful.) What are you really trying to prove? Just use your luggage allowance. 

Minimalism - bad travel trends

3. 'GOT' Travel

I’m praying that with the end of Game of Thrones, we have finally seen the last of this one, but if ONE MORE PERSON has to post a photo of themselves in Croatia, Malta or Northern Ireland and mention that they’re in 'Kings Landing' or a GOT shooting location, I am going to go Daenerys Targaryen on them. I promise that Dubrovnik was awesome before HBO decided to shoot anything there. 

Game of Thrones - Bad travel trends

4. 'Voluntourism' publicity trips. 

Everybody has that one friend who has been to Africa or South America or Asia, to build houses or volunteer with orphans, or somehow uplift communities and have then documented their efforts on social media. It’s great that they want to help people like that. But at some point you start to wonder if they would even be going if they weren’t allowed to take pictures of their ‘good work’. Are you really a good person or do you just want all of your Facebook friends to think you’re a good person? 

You also have to ask yourself just how ethical it is for you to be taking those pics in the first place. Not only is it unethical of you to be taking pictures of any children not your own, but it’s also illegal (and a bit creepy) to do so without their parents’ consent. If you went to a kid's birthday party in the suburbs of a first-world country, no one would ever dream of taking or posting pics of other people’s kids without their permission, but when it comes to orphans in Africa, suddenly it’s okay?

Voluntourism and ethics - worst travel trends

5. Beach clean up selfies

I love that people are cleaning beaches, or picking up trash if they see it, but again, can you not do it just because it’s the right thing to do and not to make you look good on the internet? You can pretend it’s a ‘challenge’ and you’re just trying to motivate people to do the same, but it's also a bit douchey. I guess picking up litter is like going to the gym, it doesn’t count unless you post it online.

Beach clean up selfies - worst travel influencer trends

6. And obviously the ever-enduring butt-stagram 

According to a study, 40% of Millennials value “Instagrammability” the most when choosing a holiday destination. If that doesn’t make you lose faith in mankind (or at least this generation) the second most important factor (with 24% of the vote) is the cost and availability of alcohol. (Opportunities for sightseeing came in at under 4%.)

If you are only travelling only for the pictures, the Butt-stagram is still the best way to maximise the reach of your travel influencer influence. 



Butt-stagram Butt Instagram

Travel trends we’re not crazy about but we’re not going to start fights over:

1. The obsession with vegan travel. 

I’m all for people’s lifestyle choices and for their efforts to save the environment and not harm animals, but there just seems to be a disproportionately large amount of Vegan Travel blogs and Instagram accounts out there. 

2. Baby (or family) travel influencers

In the past, there were preconceived ideas that people couldn’t do it all, at least not all of the time. People who had babies usually had to stay at home and look after them for a few years instead of trying to travel with kids and bothering childless people, like myself, with their incessant screaming on flights. (Don’t EVER try to watch The Quiet Place on a plane! Trust me.) 

These days, people want to prove that they can do it all. So why not get a location-independent job, grab a baby bag and try to travel with an infant and enjoy international destinations all at the same time? What could go wrong? As long as you have enough material (i.e. one good photo once in a while) to make it look like you really can have it all, you can probably sucker some other people who are desperate to have the life you’re pretending to lead, into giving you their money so that you can show them how.

It’s not just single people and childless couples who can live nomadic lives of adventure! At least not on Instagram.

Worst travel trends - baby travel influencers

Travel trends we do like: 

  • Hotels starting to become more eco-friendly (although I am going to miss those little bottles of shampoo).
  • Solo cruising. 
  • Solo co-living communes for those of us with location-independent jobs. (I should really try one of those.) 
  • Design hotels and concept restaurants.
  • Van travel. (Just please leave the cats at home?)
  • Picking up crap off the beach when you don’t photograph it. (Pro tip: Get scuba certified and take your hobby to new depths!)
  • Street art to attract those selfie-taking influencer bastards with all of their usual poses. (Myself included - minus the usual poses.)

…Not wing-murals. We’re over those. 

wing murals - bad travel trends

Do any recent trends drive you crazy when you travel? If I have missed anything, please let me know in the comment section below?


  1. I really hate the backpack-only thing. Those people always say "but I love being able to get off the plane and just head right off and not wait for my luggage." They neglect to mention how annoying it is to drag a bag around the airport while trying to enjoy duty-free shopping or when you're stuck with a three-hour layover. I always feel so unburdened when I've got my bag checked and I can wander, eat, shop, or use the bathroom without dragging a heavy, awkward bag around. And I find that about 95% of the time, by the time I get through passport control and use the bathroom, maybe stop at an ATM to get a little local currency, my bag is already spinning around the carousel at luggage claim. I do carry-on only when it makes sense, but I don't consider it a moral failing to check a bag.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Jean. I completely agree. I also don't like anxiety of not having things on me that I may need. It's unnecessary.

  2. GREAT article. And I agree with so much of it. I CANNOT STAND these shallow pics of people and their butts in g-strings just to get Likes on Insta. I’m considering doing a parody account of this (my butt is certainly not instagrammable, and I’m proud of it!) and also agree re: the volunteerism.
    In 2004 I volunteered in Sri Lanka teaching English in remote areas, and this actually started me questioning the concept of ‘drop in/out’ volunteering and actually, it benefits the volunteer more than the people in the country (looks good on a CV).
    Thanks for publishing this

    1. Thanks for you comment. Please let me know when you start your Butt-stagram parody account? I will be your first follower.

  3. Omg "butt-stagram" this is SO TRUE!! I am so fed up with all the butts I've seen on IG.


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