I first wanted to go to Palm Springs about 5 years ago. I'm not sure how it even got on my radar, maybe I saw photos on social media or I read about it somewhere. Shortly after, in 2015, I made my first trip to the West Coast. We stayed in LA for a few days and then headed to the desert for Coachella in Indio, which is about 15-20 minutes from Palm Springs. I wanted to check out Palm Springs while we were there, but there wasn't enough time. None of my friends I was traveling with are as into vintage stuff as I am so it wasn't as much of a priority. I made a mental note that I had to make it back to Palm Springs one day.
Then it seemed like Palm Springs became extremely popular. It seemed like everyone on social media was choosing Palm Springs as their vacation spot, so many people that it made me not want to go anymore. I felt like maybe I'd seen everything I needed to see on Instagram.
But after my recent vacation, I don't feel that way at all. I'm so glad I made the trip back to the desert. I think there's still something to be said for seeing things for yourself. I've seen countless photos from inside Elvis' Honeymoon Hideaway, people posed on the couch under the infamous photo of him and Priscilla locked arms with a cocktail in their hands. But the moment I walked into the house, a feeling came over me and I realized seeing a photo of something is not the same as experiencing it in real life.
I think another trick to having a unique travel experience is looking for things to do outside of Instagram. According to Instagram, it seems like everyone stays at The Saguaro, so it made me think maybe this was one of the only hotels in Palm Springs. We drove past The Saguaro a few times and while it looked cute, I'm glad I did my research and found out about The Monkey Tree instead because it made for a more unique Palm Springs experience and it was a better fit for my aesthetic and personal taste too.
Overall, I think social media can be a great resource to get travel recommendations or find out about a destination you might not have otherwise known about. However, I think it's important to do your research off Instagram as well. Try looking for more obscure recommendations that are off the beaten path, rather than seeking out "the most Instagramable spots". To me, these spots usually end up being the least inspiring anyway. And even if something is a tourist trap or Instagram bait, if it's something you really want to see, you should still go because no photo will ever give you the same feeling as seeing it with your own two eyes.