Every travel-lover has done it: No matter how fulfilling, awe-inspiring, or “worth it” our trips are, we’ve told tiny half-truths about exactly how perfect everything was. Maybe you’re a workaholic who couldn’t stop checking email in a tropical paradise, or you’re part of a large family who embarked on a cross-country road trip…with mixed results. But when you gush to your friends back home, all they hear is the highlight reel…and none of the snafus.
Why do we lie about our vacations?
“With the rise of social media, many people feel compare themselves to their friends and families who post about their ‘amazing’ vacations online,” says clinical psychologist Roudabeh Rahbar, PsyD. “What many hide are the actual realities of travel, i.e., stress, fights, illness, or an overall bad time.”
Pair that with a limited number of vacation days to burn each year, and the heat is on to have a magical, Instagram-worthy time. But there’s good news: Budget Travel sourced advice from experts to help you avoid the travel snags you might be tempted to gloss over, so next time, you truly can have a dreamy, stress-free trip—no Pinocchio-style white lies necessary.
Lie No. 1. “Travel Is So Relaxing!”
The Reality: You’re thrilled you were able to take a vacation, of course. But between running through the airport to make your connection, wrangling toddlers, driving in an unfamiliar place, or packing in as much sightseeing as possible…you’re exhausted.
The Fix: First, resist the urge to create a schedule so strict it reminds you of the crazy-busy life you’re trying to escape. “The unnecessary anxiety starts when you book a vacation and think you have to see everything and do everything,” says family therapist Kimberley Clayton Blaine, MA, LMFT. “Leaving ample time in between activities allows you to taste the wonderful food and mingle with the culture and people around you without the hustle and bustle and stress.”
When you find yourself in a moment that should be blissful, but your mind is frenzied, try this trick from psychologist and author Susan Albers, PsyD: “Use your all of your senses. While walking on the beach, hold out your hand and name each of your senses as you make your hand into a fist. Thumb equals touch—the feel of sand on my toes. Pointer finger equals smell—ocean air. Middle finger equals sound—waves crashing. Ring finger equals taste—salty air. Pinky finger equals see—blue sky. Repeat wherever you are.”
Remember this maxim: “Things always go wrong.” Anticipate problems as best you can, but use setbacks as constructive learning experiences that will help you prepare for your next trip. “Perhaps, you’ll learn that you are less likely to have delays when you take the first flight out rather than the last,” says Irene S. Levine, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine. “Or to leave yourself a day between finishing up work and setting off on your trip so packing isn’t as rushed.”
If you still find yourself freaking out? “Take deep breaths and focus on the moment,” says Rahbar. “Even when that can be difficult to do, try to focus on a happy memory or a pull up a picture on your phone that makes you smile.”
If that doesn’t do the trick, put on your headphones for a few minutes: The beautifully designed mindfulness app Headspace offers short, guided meditations and a free “fear of flying” exercise, designed to calm you before you step onto an airplane, all delivered in a soothing British accent (free app and introductory exercises, subscriptions from $6.24 per month, headspace.com).
Lie No. 2. “I Didn’t Look at Email All Week!”
The Reality: You brought your phone along to the pool, to the beach, on a hike, and on an expedition to explore temple ruins, sneaking peeks at your inbox (and Facebook and Instagram…) whenever you could get a signal. “Many people truly do want to unplug,” Rahbar says. “They are most likely embarrassed to admit how addicted and connected they are to the virtual world. Lying about unplugging goes along with how we lie about how much we drink or work out.”