Travel Envy & How to Handle It.

Greetings from Paradise, the postcard that you love and hate to get.  Travel envy can be delivered in many forms

New adventures are exciting.  The thrill, maybe some jitters, and the anticipation. Fulfilling our desires, ambitions, and dreams is what life is worth living for. Right?  The downside can be how your plans and adventures make others feel. Unfortunately, these days, social apps and COVID restrictions established travel envy as a mainstream transgression and something that many people, myself included, can fall victim to.  

Before diving into travel envy, I would like to acknowledge that travel is a luxury.  It is a superfluous expense.  There are a million reasons why people do not or cannot travel, including financial constraints, time limitations, family obligations, health complications, the list goes on.  These obstacles can make it difficult or impossible to journey someplace.  I used to fall into several of these categories.  I couldn’t wrap my head around how my co-worker, who worked less than I, could afford a trip to Turkey, while, at the time, I was at home with a bank account bobbing just above zero.  These feelings are common. 

It used to be a wish you were here postcard or flipping through a friend’s photo album or hearing stories of faraway places. Now people share their best lives, their adventures, experiences, and joy, but it is not always well received.  

Here I discuss how these perceptions are expressed, received, and can be handled in a variety of ways. I’m sharing my person insights and experience in travel envy, how to handle it as the traveler, as well as the envious, and how to support those relationships before they deteriorate.  As well as offering solutions to overcome travel envy and make the most out of the opportunities around you. 

What is Travel Envy

Travel envy is the feeling of discontent or resentment prompted by someone else’s experiences, luck, means, or choice to travel. Envy is the green-eyed monster that can creep in and engulf any of us. To have a deeper understanding of envy, Psychology Today broke it down into three conditions: 1. being confronted by a person that has a something that has alluded you. 2. Desiring what they have. 3. Having emotional pain attached to the desire.

Envy- the green eyed monster.  Shakespeare originially coined this phrase in Othello.

How Travel Envy affected me as a traveler.

When I was making plans to travel the world, a close friend completely pulled away from me. I left not only feeling unsupported by her but harboring feelings of rejection and suffering the loss of our friendship.  

In the first four months of my travels, I sent her messages with inside jokes and photos of places we had talked about traveling together, always getting radio silence.  I felt nostalgic and lonely and made a final attempt to get clarity about her disappearance from my life, I only then got a response.  “I was envious of you and your trip.”  She explained that her travel envy engulfed her —  I had this big adventure ahead of me that I worked hard to make happen, and she couldn’t be around me. Our friendship dissolved, and the good memories and all the fun we’d had in the past was tainted when she shut me out.

This was in 2017. That loss made me feel like I had to withhold and suppress many of my experiences, my happiness, my wins, and my gains because I didn’t want that feeling of travel envy to ruin my other relationships. Her withdrawal made me feel self-conscious and uncomfortable, so I kept my travel adventures under lock and key until I started this blog.     


The Traveler

First and foremost, you do you.

Be unabashedly you. Stay authentic. Go where you want and live how you want and don’t let others’ negative opinions repress you from living your life to the fullest. Don’t marginalize the incredible things you have done.

Standing proudly and smiling in front of a sea of sunflowers in Southern Spain. These blooms are the epitomy of feelgood flowers.

It’s not me, it’s you.

Envy and jealousy are often deep-rooted and have nothing to do with you. Don’t let someone else’s insecurities infringe on how you live your life. Truly “don’t take it personally” and let it go.

Be kind and approach the issue head-on.

If this person is someone near and dear, try to have an open and constructive conversation. Address the issue calmly with an idea like, “I feel hurt, or unsupported when I hear you say….” Ask what they are feeling and try to acknowledge where they are coming from.

Share your struggles.

You know that phrase “misery loves company.”  Well, here may be a good time to share some of your travel hardships with that person. This is a good time to also share the sacrifices you’ve made and what you missed out on to do the things you are doing.  Life is not an Instagram post. No one is living a “perfect” life and travel is not always lying around on a tropical beach but may include the 9 hours squeezed on a bus holding a chicken to get to that beautiful beach.   

The not so glamourous parts of travel.  Putting socks and shoes back on after burning my feet and ankles in Soussevlei, Namibia after hiking in soft sand for 15km in the height of summer with not enough water.  No travel envy here.

Disengage and set boundaries.

If this person chooses not to hear you when you say their opinions hurt, then reduce the amount of time you communicate. If you feel you are being hit again and again with slighted remarks, know when to walk away. Healthy boundaries are essential for healthy relationships.

When they have pulled away.

Once you understand where they are coming from and that they need to pull away, then let it be so. It may be for their self-preservation. This is one of the experiences that hurt the most. Don’t force the friendship. On the flip side- It is not always easy to hear about someone’s successes when you are in a place of sorrow.

Be the bigger person.

Find ways to build them up. Extend compliments on their positive attributes. Steer the conversation toward their abilities. Refocusing them on their strengths and joys in life can make their view of your “amazing life” not seem so different from their own.

Sharing is caring when the time is right.

If your friend says “I don’t know how you can afford to travel all the time?”  Then you could reply “I would be happy to share with you how I budgeted and scheduled myself to do that.”  You have offered them a gift; they can choose to accept it or not. Unsolicited advice is not the solution. Offer an opening to the conversation to share information you have.  But be prepared to accept their constraints and priorities.  

Take time to reflect.    

Sitting in repose after a hike in the forest.  Taking time to reflect in nature.

Are the feelings of others relevant?  Have you been a bit too boastful?  Are you talking more than listening?  You may not be aware of how you come across. Maybe some of your relatable experiences are a bit too unrelatable for some. Listen, journal, meditate, be mindful whatever helps you reframe your mind into the perspective of someone else.


Transforming Travel Envy into Inspiration & Motivation

Identify why this is a trigger for you.

Ask yourself “why does seeing or hearing about someone else’s experience bother me so much?”  What pain point is this hitting?  Travel envy is largely due to dissatisfaction in one’s life. Are you in a job you don’t like?  Are you lonely and waiting for someone else to travel with?  What has been holding you back?

Understand the root causes of Travel Envy.

It is not about someone else being in a beautiful place or doing exciting things. Envy is a difficult and complex emotion. It is linked to low self-esteem, feelings of inferiority, hostility, resentment, anger, depression, anxiety, prejudice, and victimization- why do they deserve this and I don’t?

Do the work.

A colorful floral journal with Be Happy stamped on it sitting on a table with a pen and glass of cucumber water. Journaling is a an excellent self-help practice to help identify patterns or problems with travel envy

Easier said than done. Feelings that are stirred up by travel envy may be coming from some much more deep seeded. Finding resources such as self-help books, podcasts, and therapy can all help release you from these emotions. Simple acts such as gratitude practice, mindfulness, and becoming aware of your strengths, experiences, and abilities will help you move past some of these unwarranted emotions.

Social Detox.

Social media platforms are awesome places to inspire us to go and experience new places and things as well as kick up the very worst in us. A bit of “I wish I had seen that, traveled deeper, had that experience, not been so exhausted to appreciate this, captured this image, traveled in that season…”  In a few short minutes, you can feel depressed about your own experiences and believe they aren’t enough.  

Social media icons showcased on a smartphone.  Studies have found links to insecurities and compartive thinking, one of the major roots of travel envy.

Social media ignites travel envy– Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Pinterest, and every other social outlet have been known to trigger and exacerbate our vulnerabilities, and personal insecurities, escalate comparative thinking, and FOMO. Remember the power of filters and photoshop.

If you are noticing these feelings stirring up from social media, do your well-being the courtesy of unplugging.  

You can have these adventures too!  Find your motivations.

That’s right!!! You can choose to have adventures as well. They don’t have to be the same as another person, you can shape and curate exactly what you want out of it. Stop comparing your experiences to someone else. Feelings of travel envy will get you nowhere and the hostile negative feelings consume a ton of energy. That mental energy is better spent on making your dreams come true.

Hiking through the Wolfberg Cracks in South Africa. Not everyone's type of adventure.

Ask for advice.

Rather than wasting time floundering to figure out how someone was able to travel to Svalbard or the Maldives, be direct and ask “how did you do this?”  Reframe your travel envy into travel curiosity. “That sounds like an epic experience I would like to have, can you help me?”

Ask what they would do differently.

As a traveler, we all make mistakes. Traveling can include a lot of tough life lessons that we hopefully learn from and don’t repeat. We are open about what we would do differently, and happy to heed warnings to the next travelers.

Standing in the rain at a bus station in southern India trying to organize transport while evacuating for a monsoon.  A country where I learned a lot of lessons and what I would do differerntly next time.

Try their Perspective on.

You have asked for their advice, they gave it to you. Did they have to work hard to make these adventures happen? Maybe they made several sacrifices. Did they sell all their possessions to travel long-term? Do they miss out on birthdays or weddings when they are away? Try on a different perspective of their situation? 

Do what they are doing.

No need to struggle and reinvent the wheel. Emulate some of their positive decision-making and reevaluate what you are doing. Ask yourself,

“How can I apply their advice to my life? 
Is this something I am willing to do?”

What are some key characteristics, habits, and behaviors you can change that will help you live a more fulfilling life with travel?

Everyone must start somewhere.

I use this phrase often because it applies so readily to so many things as we grow. Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle or end. If you have never traveled outside your city, state, or country there is always a first time for anything. Places, people, and things may change in the world, but it is NEVER too late to start.

Celebrate your wins.

Once you have done the work to shift your mindset, talked to, and gotten a better understanding of the trigger person and what they have done, established what it is you truly want, and taken the steps towards your personal travel goals. Appreciate where you started and where you are now. Those struggles you have overcome are worth celebrating.

Maximize your opportunities.

You have identified your weak spots and there are some realities that you can’t change right away.  Make the most of what’s around you.  Make a hit list or bucket list of places and things you want to appreciate in your region.  There are many benefits to travel that can be applied by simply stepping out of your comfort zone at home. Explore areas nearby, expand your views, and escape the day-to-day by stirring up some new interests. Plan something extraordinary. A weekend away. Day trips. There is probably more in your backyard than you think.

The views from Bowens Island, South Carolina.  The intercoastal with a shrimping boat sitting on the smooth water with a beautiful sunset.  Taking the time to appreciate the beauty of my hometown.

Travel envy doesn’t have to stick with you. Harness that energy and turn it into motivation. Make big plans for where your life will take you.

 

2 Responses

  1. I cannot express enough gratitude for the invaluable knowledge and insights I’ve gained from this website. The information you’ve provided has been life-changing, and I’m truly grateful. The content is meticulously curated, offering insights that have expanded my understanding and challenged my perspectives. Thank you for providing such a valuable resource. See ya! ID : CMT-T0ASKNI6GBXUY3JSLV

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