When I was a kid and I asked my mom for something, she’d sometimes reply with “We’re not getting that just so we can keep up with the Joneses!” According to Wikipedia, the phrase “Keeping up with Joneses” became popular because of a comic strip with the same name that ran from 1913 to 1940. The comic strip featured a family trying to match the socio-economic level of its neighbors, the Jones family.
People normally associate the phrase with material possessions, and that is especially evident at this time of year. What is the coolest/most popular toy for kids? What is the must-have gadget or device that everyone is buying right now? Will my kid feel deprived if he doesn’t have the “it” gift this year?
But I’ve noticed that since social media has infiltrated our lives, keeping up with the Joneses now also involves weekend activities and vacations.
What Vacations Are the Joneses Taking?
Based on my Instagram and Facebook feeds from my local friends, the Joneses in my area mainly go to three places: Disney World, Destin and National Parks. I think my family is seriously one of the few in my city who hasn’t been to the Destin area! I understand why it’s popular, though. Families can drive there in one day, and the beaches are prettier than the ones in Texas.
As a miles and points enthusiast and a travel blogger, I have another set of Joneses to watch. The Joneses in that group like going to the Maldives, Costa Rica, Hyatt Andaz Maui, Hyatt Vendome in Paris, Morocco, New York City over Thanksgiving week, Christmas markets in Europe, ski resorts over winter break, St. Kitts….I’m not sure where the next “it” place will be.
The Problem with Keeping Up With the Joneses on Vacation
The issue I have in trying to model vacations after where the Joneses are going is that the location or style of trip may not be a good fit for my family. I don’t want to visit a popular destination just because everyone else has a famous Instagram photo from it. So, I have to stop and ask myself if I’m planning a trip there for the right reasons.
A recent example is my decision to skip the Grand Canyon on our upcoming trip to Arizona. I know, who skips the Grand Canyon, right? Well, it’s too far from where we are staying, and I don’t think my kids would fully appreciate it on this trip.
Many of the places where the Joneses travel are destinations I’d actually love to visit, but they are just impractical at the moment. For example, I’d love to visit New York City to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in person. We watched it on TV this year and dreamed about being there in person someday. However, the reality of sitting outside in freezing temperatures for hours to get a spot and wait for the parade changed my mind.
Another problem with trying to keep up with the Joneses is that people aren’t always honest on social media about how much they are enjoying their vacations. All we see are the perfect photos with the landmarks in the background. We rarely hear about all the other stuff, like how the crowds/heat/walking were miserable or how the food really looks better than it tastes. Last spring, I posted photos of me and my kids in Washington, D.C. I’m sure it looked like a great trip, but if people read my blog post about it they would know that it really wasn’t a picture-perfect trip.
Don’t Ignore the Joneses
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t travel to popular places and avoid them because all the Joneses are going there. There must be a reason why those places are so popular, right? So don’t completely ignore where the Joneses in your life are traveling. They might have some great destinations you should consider.
Sometimes, we get stuck in a rut with our trips. We visit the same places over and over again because they are familiar and nostalgic. Paying attention to where other people travel gives us new ideas and different places to consider.
I actually love looking at people’s vacation photos on Facebook. I mean, I’m kinda obsessed with people’s vacation photos. I’m the type of person who would be excited to go to a party and see a slideshow of vacation photos.
Even though many travel blogs tend to feature trendy and popular places, I still love reading about those places. But, I will do my research and determine if the spot is a good fit for my family. Many travel sites also feature more off-the-beaten-path places and unique destinations I’ve never heard of. I love to read about these places and dream about future trips.
Without the Joneses, I would have no travel inspiration.
It’s your vacation, do what you want! If that means checking out a place where all the Joneses in your town are going, go for it. Just do your research to make sure it’s the kind of trip that you would really enjoy based on your family’s travel preferences. Enjoying your vacation in its entirety will leave you with better memories than just going to a “meh” place for that perfect Instagram shot.
Is there a travel destination that is popular with the Joneses in your circle that you have not been to yet? Do you get travel inspiration from social media?
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.