Let’s Chat About Travel Belittling: According to Travellers, there are two sides of a coin.

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Travel shaming isn’t fun, and while it might seem justified at times, there’s a far better way to start a discussion.

Travel shaming has become as associated with the pandemic as wearing a mask is with staying healthy, which isn’t shocking given the circumstances.

BY KATIE MACHADO

Not only is everybody looking for someone to blame, but many who are traveling feel they have every right to do so. There is a distinction between travel shaming motivated by one’s own disappointment and rage and travel shaming motivated by an individual or group’s disregard for their own safety or the health of others. While neither choice is actually in a person’s best interests, experts have opinions on both, and travelers have their own ideas about what is right and what is wrong.

There are also those who have no option but to travel or, whether they do have a choice, travel for valid reasons such as a better quality of life or for reasons other than a holiday. In the face of a disease outbreak that has already devastated the globe, judging people is the last thing anyone can do, and that is just what people are thinking about the phenomenon known as ‘travel shaming.’

There Is A Correct – And An Erroneous – Way To Have A Conversation With Someone

As shown in a USA Today interview with Sue Scheff, there is a way to have a free, truthful conversation with those with whom we disagree. It’s preferable, according to Scheff, to phrase any possible criticism as more of an open debate and a suggestion than as real criticism. It’s preferable to say “you’d better go there” rather than “you shouldn’t go there” or “are you aware of the risks.” That sounds fantastic; do you mind if I give you some safety advice?’ or ‘It’s good to have some downtime, but what safety precautions should you take?’ Please be mindful of how you say it; Otherwise, rather than contributing to a debate, the conversation will end after the first point. It’s also better to do this outside of a public forum – rather than starting a conversation in a place where anyone can join in, it’s safer to email or call a person to talk one-on-one.

We frequently need to think beyond the box and put ourselves in someone else’s shoes.

Leaving one’s home and doing so safely is something that certain travelers give a lot of thought and attention to. It’s quick to become enraged when we see a picture or a message on social media, or receive a text with an unmasked photo; after all, we don’t know the circumstances surrounding the situation until we’re there. For all we know, a picture may have been taken outside after the surrounding area had already been searched for other people. Alternatively, the picture of a group of friends may have been taken after they had all been separated and checked – not that anyone is obligated to share the information unless they want to.

via Igor Chus / Shutterstock.com

While it is a public health issue if people we know are seen in public and there is proof that they did not meet CDC guidelines, the most we can do is talk to them before jumping to conclusions. We’ll get to that in a minute if there’s definitive evidence they didn’t follow the rules.

We can only control ourselves and set an example when it comes down to it.

During the pandemic, several people traveled in search of work. Others had plans to move into new homes, be closer to their families, or fly for work – all of which may have been prevented, but would almost certainly have required a professional or personal sacrifice. As a result, no one has the right to judge a person’s location if they’re following the rules and taking the chance. If anyone isn’t following CDC guidelines and seems to be legitimately endangering others, the decision is theirs to make – Some states have developed phone numbers and contacts for reporting someone who is endangering the health of others. It could be legal to call the police department (non-emergency line) to report large crowds or groups that are clearly violating the law.

via Shutterstock

When it comes down to it, there’s only so much we can do. It feels as if the world is spinning out of control, and when that happens on a global scale, it’s understandable that many people want to assign blame or find ways to exert control over their environment – and social media has only encouraged us to view our surroundings as extending across state lines.