How To Cope With Seeing People Travel During The Pandemic

If the actions of others is leaving you feeling frustrated and fed up, know that you're not the only one.

This feature originally appeared in the May issue of STELLAR Magazine. 

It has officially got to that point in the pandemic where I cannot remember what it’s like to leave the county, let alone the country. Watching people travel on telly is about the most foreign thing I’ve felt in over a year, and don’t even get me started on the little surprise noises I make every time I see a character do anything that seems even slightly Covid unfriendly. It doesn’t matter that the movie was made in 2010 and I’ve seen in a million times before, it will still baffle my mind when I see scenes featuring crowds of people at a concert or even them wandering around a shop mask free. Like, who ever suspected that’d be a thing, right?

But, without beating the ‘new normal’ drum for the one trillionth time, life is certainly different now and although we’ve put one year down with better days certainly on the horizon, it doesn’t make coming to terms with what’s actually going on any easier. Especially when it comes to travel. What was once a social currency is now, almost like a taboo subject. We’re not swapping travel plans and places we’re thinking of jetting off to anymore, it’s all daily walks and token cups of coffee now. But what we are seeing is a rise in conversation among those who are still travelling, those who unlike the rest of us are hopping on planes and heading overseas and yeah, of course it’s f*cking stressful to see.

It was stressful to see pre pandemic when we were jealous that funds and a lack of annual leave kept us from following suit and packing our bags, but now, it’s a whole other kettle of fish. Seeing people travel in the midst of a global pandemic makes us feel fearful and angry. It makes us feel vulnerable and concerned and it has left us not knowing what to do with those emotions so often, we take to the internet.

Back in January, as the UK brought in more restrictions urging people to stay at home, Twitter was set alight when influencer Sheridan Mordew joined Holly Willoughby and Philip Scofield on This Morning, insisting that her Dubai trip was for essential travel. As a fitness influencer, Sheridan explained that she wanted to motivate her clients online but felt she needed to do so from a sunnier destination. Heading to Dubai, Sheridan confessed that she saw no fault in her actions as she faced a bewildered Holly and Phil from poolside. Of course, it wasn’t a mere matter of minutes following the interview that the 24-year-old began to trend online. People were enraged and understandably so. Dubai has continued to crop up in conversation as being the go-to spot for those wishing to pretend Covid doesn’t exist and so, Sheridan’s actions only fuelled the narrative and people’s upset. Why is she travelling while the rest of us are working together by staying at home? And how do we combat those feelings of stress and anxiety when the situation feels out of our hands? Tweet a f*ck you and delete the app? Well, that hardly seems beneficial.

‘I think that sort of crude, vigilante justice seeking mentality online isn’t good,” explains psychotherapist Joanna Fortune (@joannafortune). ‘I could look at someone that I perceive to be breaking the rules and I might be really frustrated about that, but I have a choice then, my choice is I can unfollow that person and not bring that into my world or I can attack.’ Highlighting that it’s a place of ‘simmering anxiety’ which many of us are in at the moment, between the reoccurring plunge into lockdown combined with a lack of exhaustion and a wish for an end date, Joanna notes that when we’re feeling fed up, we look for a cause. ‘That anger that’s building up inside of us can get projected outwards and on to other people “it’s your fault”, we go into the blame game,’ says Joanna. Continuing, she notes that its often ‘our own issues and our own struggles with the pandemic that’s driving this overt behaviour.’ So yes, someone going on holidays could just be the tipping point for that underlying rage we’re naturally carrying at the moment and so, an excuse to unload. But while we may feel compelled to call people out for their mistakes, we’re all aware that call out culture is rife with toxic behaviour and bullying, so if we’re doing it in a bid to make ourselves feel better and less anxious, isn’t it actually quite counterproductive?

‘If people want to do the wrong thing they’re going to do it no matter what’ explains travel journalist and STELLAR contributor Nadia El Ferdaoussi (@nadia_dailyself). Choosing not to travel and stay at home for the past year, Nadia has sacrificed a large majority of her work in order to follow guidelines and so, knows better than anyone how frustrating it can be to see others flouting rules and heading overseas. However, Nadia also understands that the only actions we can control are those of our own and so, believes that by arguing online we’re only upsetting ourselves. ‘Calling people out isn’t going to make things better. Two wrongs don’t make a right and there’s just too much negativity online anyways, it’s not beneficial,” she explains.

Echoing Joanna’s words that if you don’t like what you see it’s best to unfollow, Nadia is looking forward to the adventures that lie ahead, especially when it comes to exploring Ireland, something which she hopes to do and inspire others to do more once restrictions ease. But if you’re still in that place where you can’t help but feel anxious by what you’re seeing online *cues scheduled abyss scream*, no, but really, Joanna reveals that it’s important to monitor the amount of time you’re spending online and consider using app restrictions on your phone. Adding that’s it’s not about making drastic moves like deleting social media, especially since it’s one of our only outlets at the moment, simply limiting what and who you consume will certainly help. ‘We’re like emotional meerkats,’ says Joanna. ‘We’re hardwired to keep scanning the environment and watching for signs that tell us we are right to feel the way that we do, so we just keep looking for signs that tell us we’re right to be fearful.’ Thus, opening up another can of worms we all know now as doomscrolling. And although limiting your social media usage won’t miraculously change everything, it’s certainly a step in the right direction. Similarly so, is getting outside and opting for a bit of physical movement. As Joanna explains, the best way to soothe a busy and agitated brain is by changing the field of vision. Give yourself an opportunity to reset, a chance to breathe, and time to acknowledge that times are indeed, shitty. But it’s also important to then take pride in the things you can control like your actions and your ability to do good. Better days are coming and oh, when they do, how we’ll be ready. Bags packed and Ibiza bound.

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