No Room for Travel Shaming


A lot has changed in our world over the last couple of years (the understatement of the century). What’s cool in 2021 is A LOT different than what was cool in 2019. Designer face masks for one thing -- honestly, who woulda thought? But there’s something that wasn’t cool two years ago and still isn’t cool now: travel shaming. 

What a HOT topic, amiright? Let’s start with the basics. Travel shaming isn’t an entirely new concept, but now in 2021 it has taken on a life of its own. Travel shaming happens both in person and largely on social media. It can come from family, friends or total strangers, and revolves around the idea that people who are currently traveling are spreading the virus, are being selfish or inconsiderate, are not being responsible or fair to others who can’t do the same, etc. -- usually all quick judgments made without knowing the full story. 

We would be remiss not to acknowledge the fact that in the early days of the pandemic, travel was a TERRIBLE idea. Getting on planes or in cars and interacting with people outside of our homes is what led to Covid spreading around the world. But we have to remember, that was before anybody really knew anything about the virus, before safety measures were widely implemented, and before we had a year-plus of knowledge and information under our belts. Travel, if done correctly, is no longer enemy number one. 

Travel itself is neither safe nor unsafe; it is totally dependent on the person and unique situation. If you walk into an airport, you’ll see more protective gear on every single person compared to any other public area. Airplane filters now produce air that’s almost as clean as an ICU. Sanitation efforts are being enhanced. Yet with that being said, some trips are going to be riskier than others. Traveling to a country with little to no health measures and busting it down in a packed nightclub, probably not a great call right now. Finding a destination that you can enjoy while implementing protocols to keep you and those around you safe, definitely a much smarter move. It all comes down to personal responsibility. Anyone thinking of traveling needs to cover every single one of their bases, whether that’s being vaccinated (which c’mon people, why is this even a question), having antibodies or testing negative before and after travel, wearing masks, and being smart about what you’re doing, who you’re interacting with, your effect on the local people and those you see during and after.

Many of us that have traveled since the pandemic started have done so very cautiously and with a lot of background planning, thoughtfulness and consideration. We may post a picture of ourselves on the beach, but what we don’t always include are the precautions we’ve taken pre-travel, the ways we are respecting local protocols, and the self-awareness that is on our minds at all times. For some, travel is more than just a nice little break away from work. It’s what means the most to them in the entire world and what helps them make sense of life. It’s also what supports the livelihood of that street food vendor in Bangkok, the man who sells ice cream on the beach in Cape Town, the woman who makes dresses in Sayulita -- all people who rely on tourism income to survive.

These are ∼unprecedented times∼. Everyone has dealt with the past year differently and everyone has a different level of comfort on how to proceed as time goes on. One thing is for sure though, it hasn’t been easy for any of us. It is understandable that travel shaming can stem from frustration. But ask yourself, what is your frustration really aimed at? Are you truly frustrated with the person sitting on a beach who is trying to add a slice of normalcy to their life, or are you frustrated with the virus, with how your country has handled Covid, with how badly this pandemic has messed up our lives? In times like this, it is of utmost importance to lead with kindness. If you are really worried that someone is putting themselves or others at risk, you can always reach out privately and respectfully ask them what’s up. Love and understanding towards each other are what will get us through this time.

At SurfYogaBeer, health and community have been central to our trips since the beginning. We’ve worked hard to make sure everyone who joins us is doing their part to keep themselves and those around them safe, including required testing pre-trip, frequent temp checks before any surf-ing, yoga-ing, or beer-ing proceeds, reusable SYB masks (because we’re baller like that), and more. Here’s to getting back out there with each and every one of you.