7 Cliché Travel Instagram Pictures We All Love and HATE (or Love to Hate?)

Ahh… the lovely Instagram. My personal relationship with this social network I love AND hate. About 95 million images are shared on Instagram a day, ranging in so many different types of aestethics and themes. I think we can all agree, whether we utilize Instagram for personal or business use, that some aesthetics and trends are just more successful than others. People just eat them up! Nevertheless, I’d like to poke a little fun at some cliché travel Instagram pictures that I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of posting.


1. Sunset/Sunrise

First of all, sunsets are DAMN GORGEOUS, and if you deny that I’m pretty sure you are not human. Along with being gorgeous… it’s pretty easy content (but then again, isn’t this whole list “easy content”?). The only downside being when our camera doesn’t fully capture the vivid colors and beauty. Sunsets and sunrises are at the peak level of cliché when it’s simply JUST the sky, or… over the ocean (Spoiler alert: Another cliché instagram picture you’ll hear about in a sec.) Evidence below… my picture.

YES I’M TOTALLY GUILTY OF POSTING A SUNSET PICTURE (okay actually two.. and one of a stormy sky), though I try to have a unique story or caption behind it. (Keyword: try. It might be debatable) And honestly… I highly doubt I’m going to stop posting them because let’s face it… It may be a cliché on Instagram, but it’s a classic cliché.


2. Feet at the Beach

I feel like the “feet at the beach” photo is just the evolution form of the “hotdog” legs photo that had been going around a year or so ago. (Quite surprised to see how many slim tanned women’s legs look so similar to hot dogs..)

Yes, we all love the feeling of the waves splashing against our toes. But WHY must people take a picture of their feet?

Maybe I’m subconsciously jealous of those with beautiful feet (or is that an oxymoron?) because I hate mine, but nonetheless it’s just super weird to see feet. I’ll take the cliche ocean shot over seeing your feet!


3. Ocean or Lake pictures

If anything, I’m more guilty of this one than the sunset/sunrise picture. I live in southeastern Wisconsin, in a town practically on Lake Michigan (one of the Great Lakes). Our beach is just a short 15 minute drive from my house, so I have excellent access to gorgeous lake and beach pictures. Growing up, I’d always taken this lake for granted, even though it’s HUGE. So big you can’t see the other side. As of lately, I’m just trying to appreciate it more…. even though I’m realizing Instagram is becoming a little more saturated with images of lakes, oceans, and beaches.


But a plain Jane image of the ocean or a lake with a beach… incredibly cliché, even though large bodies of water are just so pretty! See what I mean by love AND hate?

(Travel bloggers.. you know what I mean. How many times can you say “Oh that’s such a pretty shot of the ocean” or “I love the colors of the water!” without wanting to bash your head against the wall?)

P.S. I just counted in my Instagram, and found 6 Lake Michigan pictures, 6 of other Wisconsin lake, 5 ocean shots, aaand the rest are random rivers. I guess living next to a large body of water has me in love. (Okay, I guess I’ll cool it for a month too.)


4. The Staged “Cheers” 

Cheers with wine, beer, or a mixed drink is another Instagram cliché. We don’t offer a toast and “cheers” at every single restaurant, winery, or destination we go to. It’s time to fess up, we’ve all posted this picture on Instagram at least once. It’s all beginning to be a bit too much.


5. Ice Cream Photos

Thought I’d brighten up my feed with my favorite dessert…. ice cream!! What’s your favorite treat? 😀😄🍦🍧🍨

A post shared by Miranda Knudtson | Travel Blog (@mirandaknudtson) on

Yesssssss, another one I’m so guilty of because ICE CREAM IS MY FAVORITE FOOD OKAY?! I love a good #FoodPorn shot, but even I have to admit that Instagram has become a little crammed with hands holding ice cream. Yes, even the really cool ones, like rolled ice cream (guilty), the ones with the bubble waffle cones (totally jealous), or fun/unique colors and flavors. When did this trend even start?? Ice cream can be beautiful but… let’s all take a chill pill, shall we?



6. Plane Window

There’s something a little magical about seeing a city, the ocean, some mountains from a bird’s eye view. Maybe it’s the excitement of arriving to your new destination, or maybe it’s seeing the sparkling lights. But PLEASE, for the love of God, can we stop posting pictures of clouds out of the plane window? Keep it to your personal snapchat, or at the very least your Instagram Stories. Unless there’s something absolutely spectacular about it (which is up to interpretation, of course)….

No picture provided for this one because…. this is personally my least favorite (or most hated?) travel picture. Not to mention the last time I posted one was on my personal Instagram… that has 1300+ pictures because I’ve had it since I was 17, and no way am I sifting through 6 years of selfies and quotes from high school and college. Talk about painful. 


7. Couple Holding Hands

Cliche Travel Instagram Pictures


I believe there was one photographer in particular that began this trend. This was his specific “niche” per se. It was an interesting and unique way to view the world from his significant other’s eyes, in a sense. It was really an adorable and cute idea at first (okay, it still kind of is)…. but since then, it’s exploded into a MONSTER in the travel image realm.

But… since I’m #ForeverSingle…. this is the closest I have to one of these pictures. Yes, that IS a donut with purple icing. And yes, I ate it immediately after this mini-photoshoot on the walk back to my car.

Food is life. #FoodIsBae.



Hopefully, you understand this is all in good fun, and in NO way am I saying you cannot post these types of pictures ever again. Let’s be real, it’s not gonna kill me, and the crappy Instagram algorithm probably won’t allow it on my feed anyways. Nevertheless, what travel pictures would YOU add to this list? Are you guilty of any of these like I am?



cliché travel instagram images | travel pictures on instagram




  1. I think the feet thing became popular because without seeing someone’s face, you can maybe pretend it’s you and that’s the view you’d see yourself if you were there in their place. I think that’s part of the reason why photos from behind in general are rather popular. Easier to imagine yourself in that scene.

  2. I share your love/hate relationship with Instagram, in fact it is really only because there is no way to avoid it as a marketing strategy as a blogger that I use it! Having said that I am guilty of just about everything on your list (no ice creams or hand holding on mine) However I think you missed the biggest one, the perfectly posed princess in any number of amazing locations, usually ignoring the history, culture and amazing-ness (yup not a word!) around her. I could scream every time I “like” one of those!!!!! Maybe I am just a cranky old girl but Instagram does promote cliches above everything else, I think. Great post by the way, I nodded and ranted all the way through it. Thanks I feel much better now

  3. EEEEK! I’ve taken all of these at one time or another! And I probably feel like everyone else does…”But my photo of the sunset/the beach/my feet in the sand/my ice cream cone is way better than anyone else’s on Instagram!” 🙂

  4. Okay. Let’s ignore point #2 for the moment … 😉 lol. (To be fair, the beach is one of the few places I tend *not* to take pics of my feet. Because I’m not much fond of beaches!) …

    My main dislike is #7. And specifically that pose, with the person taking the photograph’s hand in shot, holding the hand of the main subject. I have a number of issues with this, but my main one is rather odd, and also my main problem with some selfie-stick pictures.

    It’s in the way.

    LOL, what I mean is, it’s absolutely fantastic to have a picture with a human in shot. It makes a scene more accessible, it allows us, as the viewer, to imagine ourselves in the shot. Bonus points if the person in the picture is looking into the distance and we see more of their back than their front, as that’s exactly the position that we as viewers are in.

    My issue is the fact that, a pose like that, with people holding hands in the foreground, means that the subject is taking up far too much of the picture and we can’t see much of what the picture is of, but also – the hands themselves take up too much room! Its like with the selfie stick pics when you can see the selfie stick itself; no! It’s not important to the picture, and distracts the eye from the rest of the shot! Either both people be in the picture, or only one of you, but not this weird hybrid!

    I also don’t like the perspective, I just find the concept a tad ugly. We don’t need to see it!

    Oh, btw, my only problem with #6 is that every time I try it, the picture comes out really awful. Budget airlines don’t clean their windows often enough, maybe, plus I always seem to sit near a wing …


    1. hahaha hey now.. we discussed on twitter that you’re excused from #2 because it’s your brand! LOL. Everyone has their opinions, and I find it interesting hearing why people do or don’t like things; it makes life interesting that we all have opinions! But, you do make a great point, especially your point about the selfie stick… hard to angle that without showing off the stick!

  5. I definitely agree with the last one! When I first read the story about the photographer who started the trend, I thought it was really cute….until I saw everybody else doing it now too. It’s like a song that gets overplayed on the radio. It was great at first, but now I’m just over it. I want my own cutsie pose with my boyfriend, not the same one everybody else is doing.

  6. Love this post Miranda! I’m definitely guilty of taking a few of these, though I have avoided the plane window and hand holding shots. There’s an ice cream pic from my trip to Europe this summer that I’ve considered sharing, but for some reason haven’t committed to it…and now I probably won’t 😉 This definitely made me smile, thanks for sharing!

  7. A friend of mine plays the “generic sunset/water shot” game with a family member. He’ll zoom in when sharing the photo with them so that only the cliche part is visible and then reveal the whole photo has some sort of unique factor to it. Like “oh look another sunset over water,” but this one is in Thailand and has elephants in the foreground!

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