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By Kerri Anne Renzulli
June 20, 2017
Photo illustration by Sarina Finkelstein for Money; Getty Images (1); Shutterstock (1)

When it comes to social media, reality is often what you make it — or, in some cases, how you crop it.

Posing in front of a pool or villa that isn’t your own? Posting a drink you didn’t actually order? Changing the angle so it looks like you’re on a secluded beach rather than in the middle of a crowd? All are fair game, it seems, when it comes to boasting online about a vacation.

More than a third of men admit to engaging in a little vacation doctoring, saying that they have posted a photo to social media that makes it look like they are staying, eating, or visiting somewhere more expensive than they actually were, according to a new survey by LearnVest.

Women were less dishonest about their trips, with only 26% saying they’ve posted faux holiday images.

Overall, 30% of Americans admitted to this self-aggrandizing behavior, although the number rises sharply (to 56%) among millennials — who are also, of course, far more likely to have an active presence on sites like Facebook and Instagram.

But faking it until you make it might actually be the smartest strategy for your wallet. The LearnVest survey also found that, although average Americans spends 10% of their annual income on vacation expenses every year, 55% neglect to include that cost in budgets or financial goals.

Knowing that, it is perhaps unsurprising that three-fourths of Americans say they have gone into debt — racking about $1,100, on average — in order to pay for a vacation. Recovering financially from the splurge has taken about six months on average, respondents say.

One challenge: American travelers don’t like compromising on their dream destinations. When given the choice between cutting back their everyday spending in advance of a trip, vs. choosing a less costly experience, three quarters said they’d rather cut corners on food and entertainment back home rather than scaling back their vacation plans.

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The purpose of this disclosure is to explain how we make money without charging you for our content.

Our mission is to help people at any stage of life make smart financial decisions through research, reporting, reviews, recommendations, and tools.

Earning your trust is essential to our success, and we believe transparency is critical to creating that trust. To that end, you should know that many or all of the companies featured here are partners who advertise with us.

Our content is free because our partners pay us a referral fee if you click on links or call any of the phone numbers on our site. If you choose to interact with the content on our site, we will likely receive compensation. If you don't, we will not be compensated. Ultimately the choice is yours.

Opinions are our own and our editors and staff writers are instructed to maintain editorial integrity, but compensation along with in-depth research will determine where, how, and in what order they appear on the page.

To find out more about our editorial process and how we make money, click here.

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