This week's post is a short but controversial stance I'm taking about travel shaming, something that's been on my mind plenty lately.
How it became an issue
Watching the TV nightly news back in November, right before Thanksgiving, I saw crowds of travelers jammed together at airports all across the country. Granted, all the travelers wore face coverings and masks, but there was little social distancing. This rush of people traveling when the medical experts have warned against it made me shudder a bit – and I’m a big travel proponent.
Several weeks later, the whole scenario played out again when Christmas travelers crowded those same airports to journey on to wherever they were going.
Then the numbers of COVID-19 cases began to spike dramatically. That was followed by stories of overwhelmed health care workers and hospitals placing patients in gift stores and cafeterias., and 3.000 to 4,000 a day.
My take on travel in the time of COVID-19
Even as I, someone in the travel industry as both an advisor and blogger/writer, is reluctant to travel myself, I can’t blame those who wanted to go somewhere, anywhere. We are all getting quarantine fatigue, even if we believe that coronavirus is real and potentially deadly to anyone, and we’ve followed all the rules.
A few months ago, I wrote an article for a local magazine about how you can travel during this pandemic, albeit safely. I’ve also developed a COVID-19 travel checklist for this blog website. The problem is the nature of this virus and how we handle it is always changing, as are the health and safety protocols for us to follow. I am hoping that my suggestions won’t give people the license to just travel as they want, the way they want.
With a new change in leadership in the US and a clearer plan to deal with the pandemic and distribution of various vaccines, I'm hoping that we can get coronavirus under control.
What I'll do instead
I won’t shame travelers, as many others have, and I'm not saying this to save my business or those of my colleagues. As travel professional, all I can do is inform and let people know that the scientific experts discourage travel at this time. If they still choose to travel, I then offer what they must do to keep safe and healthy… as well as not get stuck wherever they’re traveling to. I'll also have them sign a COVID waiver, knowing that they fully acknowledge what they're doing.
Criticizing others when they travel won’t stop traveling. In fact, when you often tell people you shouldn't do something, it almost takes on the essence of a dare to do that exact thing. Obviously, that's not a good enough reason to travel, but we aren't going to have law enforcement turning people away at airports, train and bus stations and resorts.
Instead, we have to acknowledge that everyone has a different risk tolerance and ability to take care of their health and safety. If people follow a good, solid clear plan to vaccinate, quarantine, test, socially distance, wash your hands and mask up, the virus will hopefully not spread. And shaming won't be something we feel compelled to do.