EXPOSED: The True Drama Behind the Well-Crafted Instagram Caption

This post was contributed by Danielle Conlon.

I’m in that awkward moment of ‘saving up’ for holidays in the summer whilst also spending too much money in real life to shut up and actually book one.  In this desperation for a bit of travel, I’ve found myself looking through old photos of past trips and all into daydreaming about every aspect of them…or as much I can remember as told from Instagram. Though let’s be honest, Instagram, as great as it is for its visually stimulating content (unconventional travel destinations, dream selfies or “friends” from schools’ baby scans, we’ve all seen a baby, Meghan), it is probably not the most reliable of sources. With the illusion of fancy filters and misleading captions; it’s easy to over romanticise every captured moment of your life.

I’m gonna trademark this phenomenon as millennial nostalgia (what a millennial thing to say): a brand new strain of nostalgia directly linked to the extra filtered life we lead online.

Instagram is lacking those moments, like when you’re a half- hungover airport lump angrily staring at your delayed flight on the screen. People would also rather hear the story of how you’ve been swimming in the ocean for weeks so you’ve not been able to wash your hair in days and it smells like salt and a good time (I mean a beach party, get your mind out the gutter, Derek!).

And my personal classic, the holiday DRAMAS that we all know all too well.


ME: Here’s my holiday’s worst AND best hits (depending on how you look at it) and all the silly times I’ve bickered with friends, family and anyone else on holiday but with this time, with no filters.

We’ve all been there though, however “reasonable” you imagine yourself to be, when you combine the heat, the lack of sleep, and clashing travel mentalities, you just can’t stop yourself from getting into a bit of light-hearted travel agro or… is that just me?

Take this picture for example:

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missing being in Budapest with my ladies 👑

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This is me and my five best mates on our first group holiday in Budapest. CUTE. But the caption realistically SHOULD’VE been:

“Missing being in Budapest with my ladies… just a few hours after this photo was taken we had a little argument in the middle of McDonald’s though. Holiday tension had gotten the best of us, and it all came through, as we waited eagerly for camembert bites, ice-cold Fanta and chocolate milkshakes. Raised voices and slight glares were exchanged (for a reason I can’t remember now) as I sipped my last bit of water, half asleep waiting for the argument to be over and hoping they’d call out ‘order 58’ soon and we could go home.


It was quite an awkward walk home, with the group splitting in two but it was totally fine in the morning as it always is. We all sang our favourite song on holiday and it was alright again. “I’m chafing, chafing, chafing tonight”– to the tune of Mousse T – Horny is a holiday favourite for us. This is when the combo of sweat and walking well past your 10K goals betray your inner thighs in ways you wish you never experienced.”

Or this one…

The caption SHOULD’VE BEEN:

“Oh, how I’d love to go to Paris again and again and again and again BUT it has been slightly tense for about 60% of the holiday as my mum and I have found new and inventive ways to bicker like I’m a teenager again.


Today, we went to the Arch de “Triumphe” but the real triumph was that when my mum saw my make-up and said it looked like trash, that I didn’t end up crying into French patissieres, just eating them anyway.


From then, everything was done with a slight passive aggression and mostly me trying to pick a fight.


Our silly argument was resolved when we got to the top of the Eiffel tower when we realised that Paris is too mesmerising and iconic to remember it as somewhere we fell in and out of love. Since then, my mum doesn’t so much call me her daughter as much as she calls me her ‘best friend’. It’s adorable.”

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No Dani's were hurt in the taking of this photo

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On holiday with best friend Ben, this insta should’ve been:


“No Dani’s were hurt in the taking of this photo.




Ben and I had a truly tragic falling out the day after this was taken. We were very tired after walking through every secret and not so secret gem that Athens had to offer so we should’ve known was what due.


Our massive Airbnb (shout out to Giannis & Harry) was big enough to fit 5 people, but there were only two of us which made for lots of space that we didn’t use. That was until one night, when we were watching Greek television with great difficulty and were basically intertwined in a cuddle, and a comfortable pool of sweat.


Well, I was comfortable, Ben was not, or so I realised when he demanded I leave because I was just too hot to be around (true). I left dramatically as ever into the next room and shouted “well turn the air con on if you’re so bothered by it!” and went to sleep not before slamming my door shut. Did I mention we’d gone through three bottles of red wine?


The next day, we couldn’t stop laughing at how awful we were being (still now) and how great it was to have a bed to ourselves in the end. Now we are genuinely inseparable, as long as it’s not too hot.”

The caption maybe should’ve been:


“Don’t wanna b dramatic but me and meg are the cutest girls that u ever did see… (STILL LEGIT)


That being said, we were a visiting a friend from Norway who we’d met in college, when he was doing an exchange year. We booked flights to his University city, Trondheim, and had the loveliest time. Only thing though… have you ever been at someone’s house and felt a ‘lil out of place and unwanted?


This was most clear when he was walking really fast when we were walking to the beach. When I say fast, I mean near running and we could barely see him despite walking quickly to catch him up. We had a tiny little baby heated discussion and he admitted he had somewhere to be, handed us his keys and left us to walk at our NORMAL walking pace. Not a relaxing day at the seaside.


Apart from that, the trip was still just as stunning but I think the three people in a one-person bedroom was making some people *agitated*. We spoke about it after and yes it was super awkward. I was most upset by the comment about us walking slow honestly. He got us soft serve ice- cream to make it up to us and it obviously did. It’s the best in Norway!”

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Home sweet home 🌴❤️

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The caption SHOULD’VE been:


“Home sweet home


The Philippines is my favourite place in all of the world and I’m so lucky to call it my half/home B U T… as much as I love it and get it, the cultural differences can sometimes get me down. This gorgeous place is the teeniest paradise island where my mum and all of my family grew up and it is idyllic A F.


As it’s so small there are no cars on the island and transport is either by foot, motorbike or even boat (to the other sides of the island). We were in town with the whole family and no one fancied an hour long walk in the mid-day heat so we asked some cousins to give us a lift on their motorbikes.


The roads are thin and windy and it is scary going through the island, as you feel like you might fall off at any given moment. My mum, dad and littlest brother got on the back of one motorbike whilst me and my sister got on the other. They drove off home and we were ready to go when my cousin said we were TOO fat to both be on. Another cousin laughed and went to get his motorbike, so the “fatties” could be divided. But it’s important to remember my other cousin managed to get 3 people on the back of his with no difficulties. HMMMM.


Now, I’m so vocal and call out everyone who makes comments like but whilst I was complaining. Fat isn’t a bad word either and it just proves the difference between The Philippines and The UK. Imagine if your Uber driver said that to you. That said, mid rant I realised that I was shovelling an impossible amount of fish and rice into my mouth and realised they might have a point. But I’m happy with a big belly as long as I can fill it with the tastiest food.  

Anyway, after my stories of drama and learning my lessons, here’s three ways I can help you avoid this in the future:


Traveling is exciting as ever. Every trip is filled with so much possibility. Underground mini-golf? YES. Open Air Cinema underneath the Parthenon? YES. Swimming next to whale sharks? YES, YES YES (unplanned in the Phil– I’m not a monster). There are so many fun things to get up to and so many places you don’t know about yet ready to explore. Make sure no one’s missing out on what they wanna do, there’s always something for everyone or you can just go solo travel.


As much as you tell everyone that you and your besties are “soul mates” you’re probably not as joint at the hip as you wish you were. In airports, I always realise the biggest differences with me and my friends is ‘the time we get to the airport’. I’m a chill traveller and I do not like being stuck in an airport for 3 hours before my flight in the tiniest airport that has one shop for no reason. Some of my friends are airport nerds and want to be there as early as possible to avoid travel anxiety.  So we C O M P R I M I S E – it’s much nicer for everyone to feel at ease than one person who feels bored. Plus, with my friends it’s hard to be bored!


99.9% of any arguments are either done drunk or due to lack of sleep. That’s not a real statistic but it’s probably true. People are different when they are tired and when you travel, you sleep less and party more and that’s got to mess with your rationality. Listen to your body and remember that you can grab that glass (3 jugs) of sangria tomorrow night when you’re feeling more fresh. ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzz

All in all, I’m not promoting telling everyone on your Instagram all of your feelings and truths about everything at all times, that’s for Facebook mums. I wanted to give a different insight into the truth about social media not being exactly how it seems. That girl in Bali captioning her photo “living my best life!” might or might not be living her best life and that’s not for us to know. But we should be trying to be the happiest we possibly can be, otherwise what’s the point?

Drama is fun if you let it be just that for a minute. Make the most of every bit of travel and don’t hold back, argue to your hearts content as long as you don’t upset others (too much) along the way.

Meet Danielle: Danielle Conlon is half Filipino, half English northerner, living in London looking for love, friendship and writing inspiration across the globe. With a heavy heart (and love for satsumas), when she’s not travelling, she’s working on her fantasy children’s book series: She Belongs To The Sun. Keep up with her on IG

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