Lying About Your Life Is One of the Biggest 2024 Travel Trends
If you're not doing it, the person you're talking to probably is.
As she was standing in line to board a plane to Atlanta at JFK International Airport earlier this year—a short layover which would inch her closer to a much beachier and breezier Mexican destination—Bianca Palmarini, a NYC-based sales trader, was asked about her carry-on, a travel-friendly duffel bag branded with name and logo of a famous investment banking firm.
"Do you work there?" the stranger asked Palmarini, catching her by surprise. "Um… no." No, in fact, she didn't. Then she continued. "I mean, I used to, but I just quit!" Again—no, in fact, she hadn't.
Palmarini then proceeded to tell the stranger a convoluted story filled with quick details and personal anecdotes. She said investment banking was a lot, and she needed a break, so she decided, almost on a whim, to quit her job and head over to *checks airport gate's display* Atlanta, that's right, to celebrate the important milestone in her career. And that's why she had the branded bank bag. It seemed as though the stranger bought it.
In reality, she borrowed the bag from a friend, and Atlanta was just an annoying extra step in her travel plans. She could've said that, but chose not to—caught off-guard and with the right opportunity in front of her, Palmarini decided to paint a picture of someone else, a travel alter ego, if you will.
If you're left wondering why on Earth would someone flat-out lie about their life to a stranger like that, just know that, according to new research, if you are not doing it, the person in front of you probably is. Data from Booking.com's most recent commissioned research on 2024's travel trends shows that one of the most buzzy, trendy, and cool things to do when traveling is, well, lie about your life.
The research, which was conducted among more than 27,000 travelers across 33 countries and territories, found that 50% of American travelers "feel more alive by creating their very own epic alter egos on vacation." Translated, that means that one in two Americans is eager to make up stories about their life, their experiences, and themselves to people they meet along the way.
You might be wondering why. Palmarini will tell you "because it's fun," and many among the surveyed Americans will agree. A whopping 70% of them are all about the thrill of it, and said that they just like having the chance to recreate themselves and their life while on vacation, since they truly enjoy the anonymity of travel.
On vacation, people just want to feel good. No, scratch that—they want to feel great. According to Booking.com's research, three quarters of Americans (75%) agree, and said that it's precisely when they're on vacation that they feel their best selves, freed of some inhibitions and more appreciative of more veiled and hidden sides of their personalities. And sometimes, a little lie can just nudge you in the right direction, allowing you to fully embrace your much-coveted vacation freedom.
It doesn't end at fun and self-fulfilling role playing, though. To Palmarini, it goes a little beyond that. While she wouldn't describe herself as a professional vacationing liar, she's admittedly done it one or two other times, and she'd definitely do it again—for fun and also to protect her privacy as well as herself.
"I think when you're a solo female traveler, you make up a bunch of things to keep yourself safe," she said. It isn't surprising. A recent survey conducted by Intrepid Travel, a small-group adventure travel company, found that when making travel decisions, 64% of women would list safety as the most important influencing factor. It's no wonder, then, that when a stranger asks about the company you work for, your first instinct is to lie.
I do it too, just on a different and a little smaller travel scale. When traveling with Uber, Lyft, and other ride-hailing platforms, for example, my name is Alex. I initially made the change for safety reasons, but it then evolved into a fun little bit I had with myself.
To a few different Uber drivers, Alex has been a journalist, an artist, a student, a tourist. She's been from Europe and she's been from the US, she's been chatty, and she's been more quiet. And every time she stepped off the car and closed the door, she'd be gone—but her main character energy always managed to permeate throughout my day, adding that extra thrill in my routine that we all crave so much. Because as Palmarini put it, referring to lying on her travels, "sometimes it really is just for fun."