Here’s the truth about your vacation: You lie about it

Not every moment of our vacation is golden, even in Ambergris Caye, Belize. And when it’s not, Americans will say otherwise.
(Catharine Hamm / Los Angeles Times)

Many Americans lie about their vacations. They say the trip was better than it was, that they did more sightseeing than they actually did, that their accommodations were great. They even lie about how much fun they have.

In short, your pants are on fire.

Those are the results of a survey of 4,000 Americans by JetCost, which wanted a look at travel habits.

Not everyone lies. We were exaggerating a little bit. But so are you.

“As much as we say we detest people lying to us, most of us stretch the truth an average of three times during a 10-minute conversation,” Jennifer Haupt writes in a 2016 Psychology Today article.


Here are some of the ways.

Where you went

Havana, Cuba. Really.
(Catharine Hamm / Los Angeles Times)

Maybe you said you went to Cuba for your vacation. Put seven people together who gave that answer, and according to the survey, one of you is fibbing. People don’t always tell the truth about their destination.

The cool cultural things you did

Sydney Opera House, Australia’s performance arts jewel. Really.
(Catharine Hamm / Los Angeles Times)

More than a quarter of us fib about sightseeing and culture. For instance, maybe you said you went to the Sydney Opera House while you were in Australia, leaving the impression that you actually sat through “Turandot.” Walking by the architectural showpiece isn’t quite the same as listening to Puccini for three hours, friends.

How much booze you consumed, how much fun you had

We don’t tell the truth about how much we drink. Really.
(Catharine Hamm / Los Angeles Times)

Again, more than a quarter of us don’t tell the truth about how much we drank, but the survey didn’t specify whether the respondents were saying they drank more than they did or whether they were trying to disguise how much they overdid it.


We guess the latter, based on statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In March 2018, the CDC reported that 1 in 6 adults will binge drink, gulping down seven drinks. (Although this might seem like more of a college-age occupation, about half were 35 or older.)

Alcohol or not, almost 70% said they had a better time on vacation than they actually did, and more than half said they wouldn’t tell anyone if their vacation was a complete fiasco even if it was.

Really? Don’t vacations that really go awry make for better stories? I mean, if you want a vacation where everything goes perfectly, you should go on a cruise.

Even the weather is fair game for fabrication

The sky begins to clear after a heavy rain near the Inn at Kulaniapia Falls, which is about 800 feet above Hilo and has a very rural feeling.
(Catharine Hamm / Los Angeles Times)

The photo above was taken after a hard rain — in fact, a flash flood — near Hilo, Hawaii, in August. Hilo is the wet side of Hawaii Island so of course it’s going to rain. But the survey says that more than a third of respondents exaggerated the weather. It doesn’t say whether they made a place sound postcard perfect and left out the part about the rain and the humidity, or whether they said the weather was much worse than it was as, maybe, a bid for sympathy.

And then there’s the hotel


Who wouldn’t want to stay at the Montage Los Cabos in Baja? This luxury hotel is on a swimmable beach and is one of several that now populate this Mexican resort area. So, sure, go ahead and tell people you stayed at an ultra-cool place like this; about 29% of respondents lied about their accommodations.

Keep in mind, though, that this place starts at more than $800 a night, so you might want to scale back your claims, especially if you don’t happen to fall in the income category that makes this possible. A lie needs to be believable to be effective.

It also needs to be brief, Haupt said in the Psychology Today article. “A recent study at the University of Wisconsin found that politicians who lie are longer winded that those who keep their statements brief,” she wrote.

When someone asks how your accommodations were, going on and on about how fabulous they were might arouse suspicion. In fact, a simple, “Very nice, thank you,” will suffice. And whether you’re at the Montage or a motel in Phoenix, that might, in fact, be correct.