Are destination photos just a form of pornography or can they inspire true travels for us?

We have all done it, don’t deny it…we have all been victim to a glossy, enticing travel magazine cover. The type that catches your eye with exotic landscapes and striking scenes, from illustrious temples perched high up on a cliff to rolling hills beneath sharp, snowy peaks that seem to pierce the sky.

Certainly, an interesting, human phenomenon takes place when picking up an issue. We feel energized, and intrigued by the place on the cover. And yet, all too often we find ourselves more interested in the photography than what the feature article has to share.  Although love learning about new destinations and cultures, I still sometimes gawk over the photos, and then too quickly lose interest in the human experience within the copy. Have you ever done this? Grabbed a travel magazine off the rack and flipped through to view the photos of the cover story, never actually getting through the entire article? I have blamed it on both ADD and a less-than compelling narrative from the journalist, but some believe that there is third internal cause… that many of us are using travel as pornography.

Let’s face it, many people  are not flipping through a magazine that features over 25 destinations in one single issue because they are planning trips to most of those 25 places this year. No, the particular destination is not they grab the issue. Many travel magazine fans are reading to fantasize, living vicariously through others who are doing the things and going to the places that they themselves may never actually adventure to. They are in essences using it as “travel porn.”

Or are they?  I recently listened to an interview with an award-winning travel photographer where this idea of “travel porn” came up. I couldn’t help but reflect on his thoughts about a reader’s draw toward travel pictures and the psychological reasoning behind why they are so particularly captivating to all audiences, not matter if they are coach-potatoes or world travelers.

Is this person right? Are we all suckers for an eye-catching scene? Yes, probably.

But then again, no.  I believe his analogy is a shallow interpretation of what is actually going on. Of course, we all can appreciate a pretty, desktop background scene that transports us from our claustrophobic office space out into the vast world. But we also are using this photo as a symbol.


The symbol may be slightly different for each individual, but for nearly all of us – travel, particularly the tangible nature of a destination photograph, allow us to freedom, adventure, and perhaps bravery. It  represents a place where we are able to dig deeper, go higher, and reach further than we presently feel capable of.

This actually makes perfect sense.

We are creatures, created to dream, to achieve and to prove that there is more out there than what we have in front of our faces, and life is much more meaningful than what we are told to believe.

You may call this type of fantasizing over “travel porn”, but I personally cannot label it in such a way. In many cases, I would call this the beginning stages of – striving to Journey Beyond the Bucket List. A good photograph tells a story and can ignite a spark in us to read onwards, taking us down a path toward inspiration and even action.

But many of us will never reach the point of action. We consume the photography, but do not allow it to open the door to further insights. Therefore, we validate the view that it is only cheap entertainment.

I believe this happens when people don’t feel empowered. When we allow our lack of money and free time to be a ball-and-chain to our traditional lifestyles. I have this struggle as well. However, the more I search, the more I find that the life I dream of is a lot more possible than I previously thought.


Through The Global Commute, I hope to bring more of this to light as I travel this road with you. Together we will discover how to travel with significance despite our roadblocks.

We can’t remain stagnant, grabbing the shiny magazine off of the shelf, flipping through its photos and then allowing the pages to collect dust. We must be empowered to plan and actually GO on life-changing adventures. We must use photography as a tool to inspire us toward action.

That I believe is the power of travel photography. With one glance it can transport us into the world, into another place where we are braver and more able to achieve our goals. If we can use photos to inspire real journeys – what an amazing thing that would be.

Want to know how?

Weekly articles will be posted here with tools and tips for how to travel with significance. I also send out one weekly email to members of the Global Commute Community with updates on what’s been posted and what is coming up next on the site, so that you don’t miss a thing! Click here to learn more.

Let’s stop just drooling over the destinations on our computer desktops or in the magazines – let’s go make those travels a reality for ourselves!


Feature Photo Credit: Andre_Kuzmin/iStock/Thinkstock

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