Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Op-ed: Avoid those vacation photo-ops to actually enjoy the moment

Why 36% of Americans say they're willing to go into debt to pay for vacation

Two winters ago, we vacationed to a hot-spot resort in the Caribbean with our family. Around the perimeter of its casino concourse, a variety of attractions buzzed for our consumption.

We found an art installation to climb on, faux floral arches to position ourselves around and giant milkshakes topped with full desserts in sugar-rimmed glasses to sip from — well, not before the photos.

Photos came first.

To be honest, it felt less like a vacation and more like a visit to one of those immersive exhibits where everything’s a photo-op and everyone you know has taken the same exact photos there. This is because they have taken the same exact photos there, and doubtless, geotagged their location.

More from CNBC’s Advisor Council

Social media has transformed the reason we take photos on vacation. According to a survey conducted by Forbes Advisor, 82% of Gen Zers and 57% of millennials visit certain destinations because they saw them on social media. Many people post their travels in real time, engaging in a perpetual game of capture and share. According to the same survey, 74% of respondents feel some kind of pressure to imitate the travel content they consume online.

Without question, we fell into that camp on our vacation. It was performative, exhausting, and above all, absurdly expensive.

Don’t get us wrong — we love social media for connecting with friends, drawing inspiration from others, and yes, even drooling a bit over beautiful destinations. But its hazard lies in clouding your better judgment when making financial decisions that might not be worth it in real life.

This summer, a little more than half of Americans are planning to take a vacation, according to a Bankrate survey. Out of those travelers, 36% are prepared to take on debt to pay for it. Costs continue to rise across the board for flights, accommodations, even dining, and consumer buying is keeping pace. In the process, many travelers are losing sight of their long-term goals to capture something that feels important in a moment but isn’t at all.

‘Pics or it didn’t happen’ comes at a cost

Dial into vacation elements that are important to you

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