According to a recent survey conducted by Forbes Advisor, nearly half of respondents (48%) visited a destination or landmark after seeing it on social media. Fifty-seven percent of millennials surveyed and 82% of Gen Z-ers said they traveled to a place they discovered on social media.
The desire to ‘keep up with the Joneses' is nothing new, but social media has made it even more tempting. Photos, videos, articles, and advertisements constantly bombard users. Regular exposure to others’ extravagant lifestyles can lead to feelings of envy, causing some people to overspend on vacations in an attempt to create their own ideal experiences.
The Problem: FOMO Vacation Planning
Vacations are a chance to break away from the daily routine, relax, and recharge. They improve work-life balance, reduce stress, improve mood, enhance productivity, and boost overall well-being. They also offer the opportunity to spend quality time with loved ones and create lasting memories. Traveling to new places can broaden perspectives, increase cultural awareness, and promote personal growth.
While nothing is inherently wrong with finding inspiration online, trouble creeps in when followers experience Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) and the pressure to create picture-perfect vacations at a high cost. The Forbes Advisor study found that over 40% of respondents used a credit card to finance a trip after seeing a similar vacation on social media.
Over 75% of Gen Z and 58% of millennials were at the forefront of overspending — more than 90% overspent by at least $500. Travelers splurged on accommodations, luxury ground transportation, and premium-class airfare. However, 68% of respondents said they were somewhat or very satisfied with vacations they could afford in the past. These findings suggest that planning and managing FOMO emotions may minimize the extra costs of influencer-inspired travel while offering the same benefits.
Tips to Minimize Overspending on Vacations
Social media isn't innately evil. Its influence is limited to the length someone allows it to go. Here are some tips to stop social media from influencing you to take trips you can't afford and find alternatives.
- Be mindful of FOMO: Don't let FOMO dictate travel decisions. Remember that social media only shows a curated version of people's lives. There may be alternative destinations and experiences that can be just as fulfilling. Be cautious of social media's influence, and keep scrolling if necessary.
- Set a budget and consider starting a vacation fund: Before planning your vacation, set a realistic budget. This time will help you avoid overspending and ensure you can afford the trip without debt. If you don't have the money, try a vacation fund to save money before traveling.
- Maximize reward programs: Many airlines, hotels, and credit card companies offer reward programs that allow customers to earn points or miles for their purchases. Points can be redeemed for free flights, hotel stays, or other travel-related expenses. By signing up for rewards programs and using them strategically without going into debt, travelers can save a significant amount of money on travel expenses. In addition to earning points through purchases, some programs offer bonuses for signing up, referring friends, or completing other tasks. By taking advantage of these bonuses and using the programs consistently, vacationers can enjoy significant savings on their travel costs.
- Consider alternative travel options: Instead of taking an expensive vacation, consider less-is-more travel alternatives such as a staycation, a road trip, or a camping trip. These options can be just as enjoyable without going too far and are as memorable as a more expensive vacation. You don't have to do everything this vacation.
- Book early and look for cheap vacation packages to different destinations: Booking flights and hotels early can often result in lower prices. Keep an eye out for sales and promotions from online travel agencies like Travelocity or Expedia, and consider booking non-refundable rates for even more significant savings if you're sure the dates won't change.
- Unplug from social media: Taking a break from social media can help you avoid the pressure to keep up with others and focus on what's important. Try unplugging a few days to a week to reset priorities and goals.
- Prioritize experiences over material possessions: Remember that the most essential part of travel is the experiences and memories you create, not the material possessions or status symbols you acquire. Focus on simple living and creating meaningful experiences that align with your values and priorities. Try a road trip to explore new places at your own pace or a staycation to enjoy your local area and take a break from your daily routine without the extra lodging and transportation costs. They're a great way to explore local attractions, try new restaurants, or simply relax at home.
Focus on What's Important
Social media impacts how travelers, especially younger travelers, approach vacations. While some of this content can be inspiring, it's easy to get carried away and completely overhaul travel plans to replicate something online. Instead of succumbing to the pressure of FOMO spending, it's essential to focus on what truly matters. The best vacation allows you to disconnect from the stress of daily life and recharge. It's time to find joy in the simple things.
Theresa Bedford is a travel and lifestyle writer with an obsession to simplify life and travel more. She writes about simple living, travel destinations, family-friendly activities, and more at Practigal Blog. Her work has been featured on the Associated Press wire, MSN.com, GoBankingRates, Wealth of Geeks, Savorteur, and more.