All American adults have had access to coronavirus vaccines for a couple of weeks now. A lot of people were waiting for the vaccine before they felt comfortable traveling again, so hopefully anyone who is eligible is choosing to get vaccinated.
Everyone in my family (including me) is now fully vaccinated, and I’m eternally grateful to scientists for making that possible. To be honest, I was over-the-moon when my parents got vaccinated back in January (to the point that I was in tears), while I found my vaccine experience to be rather anti-climactic, which is probably a good thing, since this whole thing has been emotional enough.
In this post I wanted to share how the vaccine is changing my approach to travel, and then I’d love to hear how other vaccinated people are feeling about things.
My perspective on the vaccine
First of all, I think it helps to be on the same page about why being vaccinated matters in this context. I’m certainly no doctor or scientist, though here’s my simple perspective on the vaccine:
- The vaccine protects me nearly 100% from coronavirus-related hospitalization, so for all practical purposes I’m protected
- Much more importantly (since I’m not in a particularly high risk category), the vaccine reduces my chances of spreading coronavirus to others by well over 90%
- Are there small risks to getting vaccinated and the potential of rare side effects? Absolutely, as there are with literally everything we do in life
- We’re likely soon going to reach the point in the USA where we run out of people to vaccinate, so in terms of public messaging I think it’s important that we emphasize how getting vaccinated allows a return to normal; it’s time to dangle some carrots, because we’re going to have much bigger issues if a third of the population chooses not to get vaccinated
My philosophy on traveling when vaccinated
Now that I’m fully vaccinated, does it change where and how I’m willing to travel? Yes and no. As OMAAT readers will know, I’ve been living in hotels full time for several months (for reasons I explained in a separate post).
While the topic of traveling during coronavirus has been polarizing, I’ve believed for a long time that there are responsible ways to travel, and conversely, there are lots of irresponsible things you can do without traveling.
Now that my whole family is fully vaccinated, here’s how my approach to travel is changing:
- I finally have the ability to spend quality time traveling with my parents while feeling at ease; similarly, I can feel at ease traveling without my parents and then seeing them shortly thereafter
- I’m less risk averse in terms of destinations than I was pre-vaccination; I still wouldn’t want to travel places where healthcare systems are overwhelmed, or where locals don’t want visitors, as I do think it’s important to respect local customs and recognize that not all countries have made the same progress
- At this point my much bigger concern with travel is the logistics, rather than actual safety — what are the odds a destination will actually be “open,” and how logistically complicated is it to get somewhere?
Greece is open to Americans, but also in lockdown, so…
How my travel activities change when vaccinated
This will probably be what changes most now that I’m fully vaccinated, but I’m not sure it’ll be that drastic. Above I mentioned how I thought it was possible to travel responsibly. For me that comes down to wearing face masks when in public, good hygiene, not socializing, dining outdoors, etc.
Now that I’m vaccinated, I don’t feel like I need to be quite as strict in that regard. However, I do think my mentality has changed a bit, so I’m not sure I’ll be living as if it’s 2019.
- I’m still gladly going to comply with local ordinances and business rules regarding mask wearing (and no, I won’t be wearing a chins trap) and other coronavirus related safety policies
- However, I’m not going to be as proactively over-the-top was I sometimes previously was with precautions (for example, in the past I’d walk with a mask even if I was in a quiet area, I’d keep my mask on during an outdoor meal except when eating, etc.)
- I’m open to dining indoors, though I’m not sure I have much desire to, as I even preferred dining outdoors pre-coronavirus
- I’m an introvert, so I’m kind of going to miss having the coronavirus excuse for not socializing 😉
- I still simply can’t bring myself to go to any sort of a crowded indoor space like a nightclub; then again, that probably has more to do more with me being introverted and having an early bedtime, rather than coronavirus as such
While I’d feel comfortable dining indoors, I don’t have much desire to do so
Will travel shaming finally stop?
Here’s a general question that I’ve been thinking about lately, not because it personally impacts me that much, but rather because this seems to be something that both individuals and the travel industry overall are struggling with.
Suffice to say that there has been a lot of travel shaming since the start of the pandemic:
- On the one hand, that has probably worked in some cases to get people to change their behavior, or at least not to promote irresponsible behavior
- On the other hand, I think it has largely become toxic, and if anything it has just driven people to go “underground”
I’ve spoken to some travel industry executives in recent months, and almost without exception the general topic of “travel shaming” has come up. For example, what’s the right balance for travel brands to strike when promoting their product during a pandemic, and especially towards the later part of a pandemic, at least in the USA?
I’m genuinely curious to hear how OMAAT readers feel about this. Does being shamed for travel stop when you’re vaccinated? Are you sharing on social media about traveling and/or hanging out with friends when you wouldn’t have several months ago? Do you add a caveat every time about how you’re vaccinated?
I’d be curious to hear how people feel about this.
Is the end of travel shaming near?
With vaccines now available to all American adults, hopefully most of you have at least gotten your first jab, if you’re not fully vaccinated yet. This is incredibly exciting, and I’m sure I’m not alone in being grateful to science for how quickly this has all happened.
I’ve seen differing takes on how people are approaching travel when fully vaccinated, and I’d love to hear from OMAAT readers about this.
If you’re fully vaccinated, are there any limits to where you’d travel? Are you approaching your activities the same as you did pre-coronavirus, or are “habits” of the past 14 months hard to shake? And are we nearing the end of travel shaming?