I was scrolling down my news feed on Facebook when I saw a photo my sister had posted. She was on vacation with her boyfriend at a beach house in North Carolina, and the scene was pretty flawless:
Instantly, I was insanely jealous. I wanted to be at the beach house! I wanted a Corona on the deck!
The weird thing? I was in a hotel room on the shores of Lake Titicaca in Bolivia, as part of a four-month journey through South America. Some of my Facebook friends probably envied me.
The problem is, it keeps happening.
I read someone’s tweet about the fun they’re having in Europe, and the envy kicks in. Until I remember – wait, I’m uploading pictures from Peru.
Sometimes it makes sense, like when I see friends in a tropical location wearing clean clothes, makeup, and sporting impossibly glossy hair. That, I can understand; I haven’t used a hair dryer in three months and I don’t consider my clothes dirty until I’ve worn them a minimum of six times.
Then my travel envy got worse. I started getting pangs of jealousy when I saw that people were in places I’d recently been. Places I’d just left a few weeks ago.
Once I thought about it, a few things became clear about the cause of my particular green-eyed monster:
- I spend waaaay too much time on the Internet.
- I’m a naturally jealous person, even though I don’t like to admit it.
But I also worked out the triggers.
#1: Friends and Family
I travel with my fiancé, and he is unfailingly my #1 choice for a travel partner. But I will always wish that we could share our travels with the people we love. When I see other people in front of the Eiffel tower with their friends, I wish that I could be on more trips with my friends, too – nothing beats meeting your friends and family in a location that is new to all of you.
#2: The End is Near
As for being jealous of people who were in places I’d just left? I figured that out, too. We’ve been on the road for 3 ½ months. In less than two weeks, I’ll be saying goodbye to South America. Even though it’s been a perpetual challenge, I’m sad to see this experience come to an end. So when I see other people on their own, similar adventure? I remember how it felt to be there and I miss it. Essentially, I’m jealous of myself.
Which is, admittedly, kind of twisted.
#3: Total Relaxation
Travel is not easy. You are forced to make multiple decisions on a daily basis: get in the dodgy-looking taxi or stay on the street as the sun is setting in an unfamiliar neighborhood? Stay in the dungeon-like hostel room with exposed wires over the showerhead or keep trudging around, looking for something better? Eat the mouthwatering street food and risk explosive diarrhea or go for the safe (but boring) supermarket option?
In short, travel is exhausting. So when I see the edited version of someone’s trip on Facebook, I envy the ease with which they’re conducting their vacation. Even if I know it can’t be carefree 100% of the time.
Fortunately, the prescription for dealing with travel envy is pretty simple.
First, log off of your computer, especially if you’re already traveling.
Then? Plan your next trip.
Maybe I’ll start by googling ‘beach houses in North Carolina’.