Vacations are a time to escape the everyday realities of life, and some people really take the phrase “work hard, play hard” to heart. While many associate traveling, adventure, and new experiences with vacation, others turn to drugs, sex, and alcohol.
In our new survey, people are opening up about their deepest and darkest secrets and regrets from previous vacations, including in Las Vegas. While some were willing to get candid about what they did in our anonymous survey, we found others are taking their secrets to the grave.
Wildest and worst vacation experiences
The first thing most Americans do while vacationing is order a stiff drink. More than half (52%) admitted to getting drunk on vacation. On past trips, nearly 1 in 3 (27%) Americans have also lost money or even gotten lost themselves. About 1 in 5 (17%) had trouble finding a friend or family member during their travels. We’re guessing all that alcohol may have had something to do with it.
Nearly 1 in 5 (18%) turned to harder vices: drugs. Others went for more salacious activities. Nearly 1 in 10 (9%) admitted to sleeping with a stranger.
While letting loose on vacation, Americans agreed there are some people they’d love to share it with… and others they’d rather leave back home. Nearly 1 in 2 (45%) said their top travel buddy is a friend, while 1 in 3 would prefer to escape with their significant other.
The most dreaded travel partners are the in-laws. Nearly 1 in 5 (19%) Americans hate going on vacation with their mother-in-law and father-in-law the most. The other despised travel companions were people’s actual mothers, with 19% admitting they hate traveling with their mom. Fathers didn’t fare as badly. Only about 15% said they’d like to vacation without their dad.
One of the biggest vacation regrets has less to do with behavior and more to do with money. More than 1 in 4 (26%) Americans have regretted a vacation because of how much it cost. The majority (80%) budget before going on a trip, but about 1 in 4 (23%) admitted they don’t stick to their budget.
The pandemic and inflation have also impacted travel plans in 2022 and already in 2023. More than half (54%) admitted to cutting down vacation plans in 2022 because of financial concerns, and similarly, 48% have already made changes to vacation plans in 2023 for the same reason.
Living it up in Las Vegas
When you think of wild vacation experiences, Las Vegas may come to the top of your mind. It’s the mecca for gambling, late nights, and drinking. More than 7 in 10 (71%) Americans have traveled to the city of (neon) lights and explored casino after casino, from Caesars Palace to the MGM Grand.
The top reason most people go to Vegas is for vacation (67%). Others go for shows/entertainment, to gamble, for a girl’s or guy’s trip, and a birthday. In fact, more than 1 out of 10 people (13%) have gone to Las Vegas for a friend’s 21st birthday or their own.
You can bet alcohol plays a part in many Vegas trips. Almost 1 in 6 Americans (15%) said straight out they go to the city to party and get drunk. Vegas lives up to its name as Sin City, with 20% admitting they behaved worse there than they would have at home. More than 1 in 10 (12%) were embarrassed by their family or friend’s behavior, and 1 in 10 was later embarrassed by what they did themselves.
We’ve all heard the phrase “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” but after traveling there, some people really take this to heart. More than 1 in 10 (13%) Americans promised to keep something that happened on a Vegas trip a secret.
Be careful who you trust. While 84% kept it a secret, 13% did not. The top people who got to hear the tea were friends (19%). When we asked survey respondents if they would be willing to share their secrets anonymously, some did.
One person admitted she tried to get married to her now ex-boyfriend, but because they couldn’t find a chapel with availability, it didn’t happen. Another said they witnessed a coworker throw a wallet full of money at a dancer. One survey respondent shared that their entire trip to Vegas was a secret! They said they like to take secret trips just for a weekend and have even done secret trips to Europe and Asia.
Nearly half (48%) admitted that their secret has something to do with sex. In fact, nearly 1 in 10 (8%) revealed they’ve slept with a stranger in Vegas. About 1 in 5 (17%) later regretted it, and 1 in 4 confessed their secret has to do with a strip club or cheating.
Nearly 2 in 5 Americans (37%) witnessed a wedding in Vegas, but it was not always happily ever after. Nearly 1 in 3 (30%) who got married in Vegas are not together anymore.
Other top secrets have to do with drinking (40%) or drugs (13%). More than 1 in 10 regrets how much they drank in Vegas, and 3 in 5 (60%) have gotten drunk in Sin City. Some have had so much to drink they blacked out (11%)! About 1 in 5 (17%) have done drugs.
We have to admit, though, we were impressed with our survey respondents’ loyalty. Many refused to share their Vegas secrets with us, even knowing it was anonymous! One person reminded us that snitches get stitches, and another said they’ll take the secret to the grave.
Gambling on a good time
One of the other biggest Vegas secrets has to do with gambling (19%). It’s not too surprising since Vegas is known as the top gambling city in America.
In fact, 81% of Americans who have gone there have gambled. The top casino games people gravitate to are slot machines, blackjack, poker, roulette, and craps. On average, people admitted to spending about $487 on gambling, and many got carried away with dreams of striking it rich. More than 1 in 5 (22%) disclosed they spent more money than they planned.
Many Americans made out well in the casinos. People shared they won about $1,140 on average! However, all that money did not always make it home. 1 in 4 admitted to gambling their winnings away.
Others used their winnings to make impulse purchases. Nearly 1 in 4 (24%) admitted to making unexpected purchases in Vegas. Purchases varied from a leather dress to custom poker chips to face lotion with gold in it. One person even said they bought a glass ecosphere with a tiny, live shrimp inside of it, and that shrimp lived for years! Others admitted to buying lingerie, drugs, tattoos, or piercings.
Many Americans are planning to try their luck again at some point and return to Vegas. More than 3 in 5 (65%) plan to go back to the city to make some new, potentially NSFW memories. Either way, don’t forget loose lips sink ships, and what happens on vacation stays on vacation.
In September 2022, we surveyed 1013 people above the age of 21 to get their feedback about vacation regrets and secrets. 50% were male, 48% female, 1% nonbinary, and 1% transgender. Respondents ranged in age between 21 and 93. The average age was 39.
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