Holiday pictures can ruin your trip, science says

We all love travel pictures. But sometimes, it’s better to keep your camera in your pocket, science says.


“Oh, OH! WHAT A MOMENT! Let’s capture this with a picture we’ll never forget!”

Do you recognize yourself? If not, you’re either a very rare species, allergic to smartphones or have an exceptionally boring life. That fact that you are surfing on a travel blog doesn’t make us believe in option number 3, a smartphone allergy is, as far is we know, as widespread as IQ points among racists. Leaves option one which is, as mentioned, quite rare.

Holiday pictures everywhere

But as long as you are like most other people in the modern world today, your first reflex when encountering a moment you truly want to remember, is pulling out your smartphone and make some (i.e. at least ten) pictures.

Here’s our secret advice: STOP DOING THAT!

Why? Because your ruining the moment for yourself. And that’s not our opinion, it’s scientifically proven.


You know those moments, not only from traveling, when you are more engaged in trying to get the right angle, the perfect light, and the best perspective so you have a great picture to show when you come home or to hang up as a picture than to enjoy the scenery. The urge to capture a moment has grown to us with our smartphones.

Don’t get us wrong, we also take pictures all the time. It seems to have been injected into our DNA during the last couple of years. The rise of the smartphone has made it inevitable that there is hardly a moment of the day when there’s no picture taken by someone somewhere.

Travel pictures can be great

Your journeys can – and should – produce marvelous pictures. And what would a trip be without showing your best pictures at home? Those travel bloggers here can tell you a thing or two about it:

This beautiful sunset moment at the Burning Man Festival by Stuck in Customs, for instance.

A last Embrace at sunset… @burningmanusa #burningman #burningmanusa #embrace #blackrockcity

Ein von Trey Ratcliff (@treyratcliff) gepostetes Foto am

Or this action moment in Guatemala by Adventurous Kate

Or this peaceful backpacking moment with The Blonde Abroad.

To say that my first backpacking trip was epic would be a serious understatement! My friend Eric (@upindaclubs) and I spent the weekend in Yosemite's backcountry completely disconnected from our digital lives to reconnect with nature. ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Not only does Eric have one of the best Instagram usernames out there, he's also the co-founder of @hipcamp- a company that makes it easier to discover great places to go camping across the U.S.! Go check out their account for all kinds of awesome in the great outdoors ??? ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• More Yosemite moments shared shortly! ? #findyourselfoutside

Ein von KIERSTEN ✈️ THE BLONDE ABROAD (@theblondeabroad) gepostetes Foto am

But sometimes they are disturbing

Nevertheless, if you want to memorize a moment, a scene or a picture in your head, the best way to do this is to stay in the moment, not let yourself be distracted by things like your smartphone, your camera or your travel guide. Focus on this terrific moment and try to experience it with your whole body and mind. Try it: Close your eyes and think of an overwhelming, perfect moment during one of your trips. The one that you remember the most of the whole trip. Was it while taking a picture?

travel moment

This study covered by covers our advice and found out that the best way to memorize a moment is to completely and consciously be in the moment – and not by pictures.

They even invented a name for it. They call it the “photo-taking impairment effect”. The conductor of the study, Dr. Linda Henkel, explains it like this:

“When people rely on technology to remember for them — counting on the camera to record the event and thus not needing to attend to it fully themselves — it can have a negative impact on how well they remember their experiences,”

It might be against your nature not to take a picture of a moment worth memorizing. But sometimes, this moment is for your, just for you. Not your friends and family, not your travel diary and not your picture wall. Do yourself a favor and create memories in your head that are long lasting, no matter whether you have an image to remind you of it. Your future self will be thankful.

About the author

Alex from tripsuit


Hi, I am Alex from tripsuit, travel enthusiast and into data and everything digital! I lead the travel lab, analyzing the travel world using data science to uncover the hidden logic behind travel.

What others say

  1. I completely agree! Instagramming and sharing pics on Facebook is the worst. I’ve watched some of my friends spend an entire 3-day trip instgramming the whole thing or sharing pics on facebook and I wonder if they were even there to actually experience anything. One or two pics is fine but if you’re spending the entire time watching your trip from behind a camera lens or iphone screen then you may have as well stayed home and read a travel blog. You lose the moment and you cheat yourself from truly experiencing a spectacular memory – a feeling a picture just cannot capture.

  2. It’s become some kind of standard to photograph everything you see or want to remember. Maybe we need some time to get used to ALWAYS be able to take pictures.. maybe in a couple of years, it’s not that special anymore… I hope 😉

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