There’s something about travel that makes you want to share your experiences. It’s exciting, it’s memorable, and it’s a welcome respite from everyday stresses.
But giving in to that impulse to share in the wrong setting can make others feel left out and even sour relationships. After all, travel isn’t something everyone can participate in, especially now.
For instance, it’s estimated that only about 20% of the global population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine (at the time of publication). Given those statistics, individuals with chronic health conditions may not feel safe traveling at the moment. And because millions lost income from government-mandated shutdowns across the globe, the added expenses associated with travel may simply be out of reach for many.
This doesn’t mean you can’t talk about your vacation, period. Rather, it’s worth considering how you’re approaching those conversations.
Here are four tips to help you balance enthusiasm with empathy:
Know when to bring up your trip
The more recent your vacation, the more you probably want to talk about it. But it’s not always a good idea. Bringing up your favorite travel story out of the blue can feel jarring to the other person. It can even give the impression that you’re trying to one-up them. So it’s best to keep your travel stories relevant to the conversation.
If someone asks about your trip, that’s a different story, and you should feel free to talk about it. It’s just a matter of understanding the appropriate timing.
Make your gratitude clear
In a time when travel is so much harder to access, it’s important to appreciate the opportunities you have. And making that gratitude and humility clear can help make the conversation feel more grounded. This kind of self-awareness can make all the difference, especially now.
Here are some ways to phrase this:
- It was such a privilege to be able to see X.
- I feel so lucky to have been able to do Y.
- Going there reminded me to appreciate Z.
The most important thing here, however, is that the gratitude is genuine—otherwise, you risk veering into humblebrag territory. When others sense that kind of feigned humility, it can be a turnoff in how they relate to you.
Deepen the conversation
It can be tempting to focus on the more Instagram-worthy aspects of travel, like clear blue rivers, a beautifully designed restaurant patio, or the view from the end of a long hike in the mountains. But that approach alone can come off as bragging. To avoid that, try to go deeper by bringing some kind of value to your audience.
For example, you could talk about how the experiences you had made you feel or what they made you rethink. Or you could provide more direct value by offering travel tips, like how to navigate airports or going through customs as a vaccinated individual. You could also provide insight into the COVID-19 protections you encountered during your trip. (This type of advice could also work well in social media posts.)
Look for feedback clues
We’ve all met someone who just doesn’t know when to stop talking. And, unfortunately, when discussing something you’re passionate about—like a recent vacation—it’s easy to become that person without even realizing it. But there are signs that you can look for to keep the conversation from going beyond its expiration date.
For example, if the other person isn’t asking questions, or has stopped asking questions, that’s a sign to move on from your travel story. Other signs they aren’t engaged with the conversation include decreased eye contact or long reply times (in a group chat, for instance).
Ultimately, it’s vital to remember that leisure travel is a privilege. And being cognizant of the way people have been impacted by the pandemic is an important part of sharing your vacation stories in a positive, responsible way.
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