The rise of vacation shaming with COVID-19

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We polled Budget Travel readers to understand how COVID-19 is influencing their travel attitudes and opinions.

Rediscovering America became the new light at the end of the tunnel for an uncertain COVID-19 world. The revival of road trips, camping, and van life changed how many of us see travel in 2020, but leaves many families and travelers unsure of the right move. Any travel outside of your home risks the spread of the novel coronavirus. This uncertainty sparks a new travel trend: vacation stigma. People seem wary to talk about their travel ideas during a pandemic in fear of backlash, despite the fact mobility continues to rise. In September, Budget Travel surveyed subscribers to learn about their feelings towards travel.

Vacation stigma goes beyond one’s personal feelings towards travel. Since the rise of cancel-culture, this phenomenon leads to travel shaming. Fidelity National Financial conducted a survey concluding that almost one-quarter of Americans took some form of vacation since March. Scott’s Cheap Flights, a flight finder, recently removed posts from their online forum, a rare occurrence, due to hateful comments projected at people considering travel. Later, the creator issued a letter condemning any misbehavior or travel shaming. He said there is no one size fits all approach to traveling during a pandemic. 

According to respondents of our survey, the attitudes towards travel distribute closely across all four categories: open to all travel, open to national travel, only day trips, or not at all. Those not traveling took the lead at 27%, followed by national travel (25%). People open to all travel, including out of the country, fell last at 21%. The majority of people traveling believe in wearing masks, social distancing, and stay in separate accommodations. When it comes to quarantine, only 3% said they consider quarantining before their trip, and 14% would consider after their trip. 

The CDC still states the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home. Traveling poses a risk to you and your family for contracting COVID-19 or spreading it to your community. If traveling, the CDC recommends the following precautions before, during, and after your trip: wear a mask, socially distance, research, plan, and wash your hands. Above everything, if you suspect your health has been compromised, postpone the trip or stay home as much as possible after your journey for 14 days. 

No one knows when things will get back to normal, if normal even exists anymore, but some people are trying to think ahead. One-fourth of those surveyed said they are looking at trips early winter/spring of 2021. Not many people consider traveling in September or through the holiday season (about 10% each.) When it comes to travel shaming, the BT community does not seem to judge other people posting about travel right now; only 2% of respondents said they were. Alternatively, when asked if they were comfortable sharing their posts on travel, the answers were mixed. Most people feel comfortable sharing their frustration not traveling, but not about their personal travel. 

Budget Travel received 212 responses from readers all over the USA. While Scott’s Cheap Flights put it best, traveling right now is not a one size fits all; it is essential to carefully follow the CDC guidelines and think wisely on your decision to travel. The survey concludes the majority (60%) feel unsatisfied with the way authorities handle COVID-19, but public concern should not turn into online harassment. 

Budget Travel is dedicated to providing socially distanced opportunities and inspiration for navigating this time. 


Kylie Ruffino is a senior Advertising and Branding student at the Savannah College of Art and Design