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Nothing gives out a bigger vibe of FOMO than those gorgeous travel photos we see all over the internet. We strive to have the perfect angle in front of a sparkling beach, holding an adorable animal or dangling off a cliff over some snow-capped mountains. And when we’re lucky, we get that awesome shot that goes right into our profile picture and shared across every social media outlet.

But, there is a secret we all are keeping. Loaded up into our phones and cameras are hundreds of other photos that will never see the light of day.

Until now!

I’ve asked some of my favorite travelers, writers and blog friends to cleanse their selfie spirits and let it all hang out. Here are the shots and the stories behind the WORST travel selfies from all over the world.

PS: Mine is from a very, very hot day out on a lake in central Sri Lanka. The kind boat man created homemade hats from lilly pads to keep out of the sun. However, there’s no way to make these look cool and stylish when it’s a thousand degrees. I embraced it best I could.

Stefan & Sebastien, Nomadic Boys

Luang Prabang: Laos

This is a photo of us on our way back after a beautiful day out at the Kuang Si Waterfall in Luang Prabang in Laos. As you can see, the beauty of the area was so powerful, it took its toll on the fun loving Frenchman I travel with, causing him to enter into quite a heavy deep sleep.

Nomadic Boys Luang Prabang in Laos bad travel selfie

Sofie Couwenbergh, Wonderful Wanderings

Utrecht: Netherlands

This photo was taken years ago in Utrecht, but it’s still one of my favorite failed photos because it’s such a complete pose fail! I was in Utrecht for the day with my parents because I was thinking of moving to the city for a year to study there. While we had a lovely time and the city seemed nice, I ended up doing an extra master in Antwerp instead. Plus, they wouldn’t let me back into Utrecht after this photo 😀

sofie wanderful wanderings bad travel selfie

Micki Kosman, The Barefoot Nomad

New Zealand

I have a pig call that’s completely irresistible to Polynesian pigs. I discovered and perfected it while traveling in New Zealand. When I start a-calling, pigs come a-running. Unfortunately for me, this little piggie decided to snuggle up to me through the fence. I’m covered in pig boogers, dirt (at least I hope it was dirt), and smell like a barnyard in this shot.

micki kosman barefoot nomad bad travel selfie

Carole Terwilliger Meyers, Berkeley and Beyond

Oakland, California

I took this photo of my husband and me in a gondola on Lake Merritt in Oakland, California.  The picture is all out of whack with color, focus, and scale.  That gondolier looks like he is a hobbit standing on our shoulders. Please don’t show it to anyone!  🙂

carole berley and beyond bad travel selfie

Silke Elzner, Happiness and Things


This was taken in December 2015 after we had just come back from a hiking trip to the Air Terjun Sindang Gila and Tiu Kelep waterfalls. It was the beginning of the wet saison and we were totally surprised by the sudden rain that just appeared out of nowhere. It rained the entire way back and by the time we had arrived at the restaurant everyone was soaking wet. None of us was sufficiently prepared and I was glad I had at least a camera bag to save my equipment and that of others. Luckily, everyone took it with a sense of humour, so my sad photo in this picture was just for fun. We just wrung out our t-shirts, towelled our hair dry and sat down for lunch with a couple of Bintangs!

silke happiness and things bad travel selfie


Helen Warner, The Lite Backpacker


I was hiking through the jungle in southern Cambodia, it was hot, humid and I had just climbed up a mountain. So, naturally I thought that would be a great opportunity for a selfie… problem was that as I took it I almost slipped over so my eyes are almost rolling back in my head. Argh!!

Helen warner bad travel selfie


Karolina & Patryk


This is the selfie taken during our first (and last) all inclusive travel together. We were in Antalya, Turkey. The food in a hotel was disgusting, the AC wasn’t working, so all we had left were free drinks. And we definitely had too many of them!

karolina and patryk bad travel selfie


Alouise Dittrick, Take Me to the World

Louisiana, USA

This seflie was taken with a camera (no phone or selfiestick) hence the awkward angle and bizarre close up. I look like a hot mess from wandering around in humid weather for several hours. While I’m giving off a smug look that wasn’t my intention (I was trying to smile). The best (worst) part of this travel selfie is it’s hard to tell where I am – in Jackson Square in New Orleans, Louisiana.

alouise bad travel selfie

Claudia Tavani, My Adventures Across the World


Trying to pose against the gorgeous cliffs of Ulu Watu, in Bali, isn’t easy. There actually are so many people around, so many tourists trying to take pictures, that it implied hurrying to occupy a good spot, begging others to not walk in front of the camera, or to not get too close to me so that it would look like I was alone. Eventually, this is the only shot I managed getting before hordes of other visitors started walking in front of my camera again. I suppose there is no point in trying to portray a Bali that really doesn’t exist, not even in my wildest fantasies.

claudia indonesia bad travel selfie

Bethaney Davies, Flashpacker Family


I was in Boracay in the Philippines last month. The water is so unbelievably beautiful and clear so I thought I’d get creative and attempt some underwater photos. I was trying to get a cool shot of me appearing from the water, looking like a glamorous mermaid but instead I got this…

flashpacker family bad travel selfie

Vicki Winters


We travelled to Isla Mujeres to Swim with Whale Sharks in late July. When it comes to sharks, articles like Jimmy John Shark might put you in awe.

This photo was taken around 9AM while waiting for the ferry. Mexico in July is hot and humid, the perfect weather in which to work up a good sweat. I wasn’t exercising though.

vicki winters bad travel selfie2


Author EileenCotterWright

Eileen Cotter Wright is a Boston, MA local and a former London, UK expat. Despite losing her passport the first day she left her home country, she's continued to roam the earth with gusto for more than 16 years. You can keep up with her hot mess adventures on Instagram @CrookedFlight.

More posts by EileenCotterWright

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