The Rich Kids of Instagram: Luxury Travel, Transport Modes, and Desire

Scott Cohen, Hongbo Liu, Paul Hanna, Debbie Hopkins, James Higham, Stefan Gössling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Rich Kids of Instagram (RKOI) portray luxury lifestyles on social media. The potential roles of travel and transport within these online displays of affluence have not yet been examined. This paper’s purpose is to analyse how transport modes and luxury travel are depicted and interrelated through RKOI images. Co-occurrence analyses were conducted using a data set of Instagram posts with RKOI as a hashtag (2012–2018) to visualize the roles of transport modes and luxury travel in RKOI image construction. The findings demonstrate that both energy-intensive transport modes and luxury travel, whether through air/watercraft or luxury cars, play a vital role in signaling RKOI’s self-image on Instagram, with gendered differences. The article contributes an original conceptual model of how RKOI construct their image using transport modes and luxury travel. Implications for the social normalization of carbon-intensive transport choices, coupled with luxury destinations as a backdrop, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Travel Research
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified


  • co-occurrence analysis
  • Instagram
  • luxury travel
  • signaling
  • social norms
  • transport modes


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