I’m On Fakation!


By Jess Goulart

All photos courtesy of Jess Goulart.

A recent Forbes article warns of a scam that’s sweeping the internet: fake vacation rentals. Unsuspecting victims looking for the perfect getaway are lured in by expertly manicured photos of phony rental homes. Prospective vacationers send a security deposit to the property’s “owner,” who immediately disappears, never to be heard from again.

A less malicious offshoot of the scam is also becoming popular. It’s called “fakationing,” (or “fakecationing”) and it won’t cost you anything but your dignity.

Perhaps the concept started with studios made to look like famous landmarks. In 2009, Photographer Reiner Riedler released a series called Fake Holidays documenting studios around the world that offer souvenir photos against the backdrop of life-sized replicas of popular destinations. Participants can snap shots at tropical beaches inside a German resort, Mount Rushmore in China, or a ski-slope and mountain town with actual snow in Dubai.

Riedler first became fascinated with the idea when temporary indoor pseudo beaches began springing up and spreading throughout Europe. In America, a beach like this exists in the landlocked state of Colorado. It’s located in a warehouse complete with fake sand, volleyball courts, year round ceiling heaters, and mist to make it feel hot and humid.

Today, you don’t even have to bother traveling so far as a warehouse or resort to pretend you’re somewhere exotic. Fakations make the perfect escape for those who are too lazy to pursue the hassle of traveling, yet still want to show off a trip on social media–all in the comfort of their own homes.

Brandwatch published a DIY guide for the ultimate fakation. They tell you how to manipulate your Instagram and Twitter to make it look as though you’ve prepared, left, and returned from the destination of your choice–all the more relaxed and tan.

Mashable and Inklings both offer similar how-to’s, and Pau Software just released the fakation app, which sends you and your friends to a destination (photo) of choice at the click of a button.

The phony travel photo craze reflects the rapidly growing significance of social media in our lives. Apparently it doesn’t matter if you actually go out into the world and experience other cultures and ways of living, so long as your Facebook friends think you did.

In other words, so long as they are jealous of your awesome (fake) life. No wonder studies show that as Facebook use increases, self-esteem decreases.

If you’re thinking of hopping on the fakation train, don’t. It’s not going anywhere, anyways.

Instead, tune into BTR’s new travel podcast, Twenty-Something Traveler, and learn how to actually travel anywhere you want to go with virtually no budget.