Travel Shaming? Don’t Let it Stop Your Holiday Plans

Travel Shaming? Don’t Let it Stop Your Holiday Plans

Covid doesn’t mean travel is cancelled. As we enter a new wave of lockdowns, one writer shares her experience of travel shaming and why now is the best time to plan your next trip.

was a time – between back-to-back trips to and from Asia –
where I would have relished a prolonged stint at home. That was,
however, during pre-Covid times, when I had the almost incredulous
luxury of complaining about how little Netflix-and-chill I could
fit into my colour-coded social calendar.

As a travel writer, being grounded for the better part of 2020
has been difficult to say the least. Travel has become an (almost)
essential part of my life, and to have the proverbial travel-tap
switched off is a challenge to both my finances and my mental
health. Why then, when finally given an opportunity to take to the
skies again, did I feel a sense of guilt?

Let’s face it. This year has been a strange one. It is almost as
if Mercury has been in retrograde for the last 11 months, and now
things like visiting your grandparents or gathering with friends
has become the focus of widely divisive cultural debate. Travel,
too, has become one of these sticking points, which certainly begs
the question: has COVID-19 given rise to travel shaming?

For a brief moment in the summer, it felt like things were going
back to normal. For some, travel served as a much-needed reprieve
from the monotony of lockdown. I was quite chuffed to see all the
influencers jetting off to Positano and Santorini, posting snazzy
travel #OOTDs to the tune of Watermelon Sugar or whatever pop-beat
was popular on TikTok at the time. “Finally, some space to breathe
and room to roam,” I thought as I began casually looking for
flights to one of the then-60 countries in the UK’s travel

Yet I kept stumbling across comments such as “how can you travel
in times of crisis?” or “how can you sit by a pool taking selfies
when the world is falling apart?”

A similar line of questioning littered my inbox when I told
people I was travelling abroad in early October. It was my first
trip in a long time and I was pretty excited. I created my own
travel #OOTD mood board, whipped out the trusty carry-on suitcase,
and dusted off my mini skincare essentials. This excitement,
however, slowly gave way to guilt as people started messaging me
about Covid case numbers in Italy, viral load in airports and
eventually making remarks: “Is now really the best time to travel?”
“Can’t you just sit tight and wait it out until Covid is gone?”

How can you sit by a pool taking selfies when the world is falling apart?

Most of it was genuine, well-meaning concern, but some remarks
were tinged with hints of bitterness and lockdown-related moral
superiority. Their comments planted seeds of doubt in my
sub-conscious – so much so, that I considered postponing my trip
and even hesitated to post about it on social media.

When it was finally time to fly, those worries quickly
dissipated. The travel industry – one of the hardest hit by the
crisis – has worked hard to make the travel experience safe and
secure. From the airport to the aeroplane and all throughout my
trip, I felt completely safe. I came home from my brief getaway
feeling refreshed and energised; the mental load of the Covid blues
was feeling a little lighter than when I left. It felt good to
travel again.

Can’t you just sit tight and wait it out until Covid is gone?

While there is definite guilt in the air about travelling in the
middle of the pandemic, the reality is that while we may be able to
“wait it out”, these beautiful, creative and truly special
businesses may not be afforded the same time.

So, as we’re trudging through another wave of lockdowns, I say:
look ahead and book that trip. Next time there is an opportunity to
explore far-off destinations or rediscover familiar locales, take
it. Travel responsibly, wear a mask and take those pool selfies
with confidence (I did).

There’s absolutely no shame in supporting the businesses and
destinations that have fuelled our sense of wonder about the world
for so long. Your reservation may help a business survive the
crisis just a little bit longer. And at the very least, it can give
you something to look forward to at the end of the pandemic tunnel.
God knows, we all need a bit of escapism these days.

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