Is It Finally Time to End the Travel-Shaming?

Right after I got vaccinated back in April 2021, I took two epic back-to-back trips: one to Kaua’i in Hawai’i, and the other to Santorini and Mykonos in Greece. The freedom I felt back then was exhilarating — we were finally vaxxed! Travel was back, baby! There were still various restrictions, of course, but the fear of getting and/or spreading Covid was largely gone. I happily dined indoors and posted all of the Instagrams without any “will I be travel shamed” second-guessing (IYKYK).

Fast forward to now, and things are…not as simple. The rise of the Delta and Omicron variants has made the return of travel a bit more tenuous, to put it mildly, and in recent months, I’ve found myself wondering: What’s the right thing to do here? As a travel writer, I obviously want to be a good citizen of the world and do right by my global community — so what’s the move as we look toward the future of travel? Should I be leaning even more into trip planning to support the destinations around the world that rely on tourism and therefore took a huge hit during the pandemic? Or should I be laying low at home when possible, to help minimize any potential spread?

There’s no question that travel in the pandemic era has become a bit fraught, filled with lots of inner conflict and philosophical conundrums in addition to the logistical ones. According to a recent January 2022 survey, only 26% of millennials and Gen Z-ers say they are comfortable traveling, and 20% of all Americans say they don’t think they’ll be comfortable traveling until 2023 or later.

I quite literally travel for my job and I’m still wondering how to approach it in the best way — so I decided to call in the troops. I chatted with a slew of experts in the field to figure out the morality of it all, from how to think about travel to how to do it right. Consider these pointers your moral compass as you plan your trips for 2022.

First things first: Remember that for many people, travel isn’t just about leisure — it’s necessary for work and to see family.

It’s easy for travel shamers to bash people who ever get on a plane. But keep in mind, we live in a global world — which means that silo-ing travel into the ‘fun’ category is a mistake in and of itself. “We’ve vilified people who travel, but the reality is that this pandemic is something we’re going to live with. And for many of us who have global lifestyles, who have family in different parts of the world, travel isn’t just about leisure — it’s necessary for work and to maintain family ties,” says travel journalist, Emmy Award-winning TV host, and influencer Oneika Raymond. “We may have dependents who are reliant on us in some way, which makes travel imperative — not a choice,” she continues. Your move: Remember and respect the fact that not everyone traveling is headed to an all-inclusive resort in the Bahamas — for some, travel is a necessary part of life.

It’s not where you go, but how you go there.

“I always tell people that safety is in actions,” Raymond continues. “Many of us don’t have the privilege to live in bubbles, so it’s really about taking the proper precautions wherever you are. After all, as soon as you leave your doorstep, you’re traveling — you’re interacting with people whether you want to or not. So to me, It’s not the fact that you’re traveling, but how you’re traveling.” In other words, as long as you’re not immunocompromised or have any other condition that puts you at risk (in which case you should consult with your doctor about what’s right for you), your best bet is to follow the rules. Get vaccinated and boosted, adhere to the testing and masking guidelines for the destination you’re visiting, and sanitize often.

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