'Revenge Travel' Is the Rage Amid COVID. Could It Spell Trouble?
A trek in the snow-clad mountains, cruising around in houseboats, dipping toes in the sand and café-hopping by the beach.
It hasn't been that long when we were cooped up in the house all day long, wishing we could go somewhere, anywhere.
We made bucket list of places to visit or just jumped into good old travel memories. We're all guilty of it.
Well, the restrictions have been eased in many places and people are tossing caution to the wind and seizing the slight window of opportunity to make up for lost time.
We're already seeing people thronging the small streets in Manali, hundreds gathering at waterfalls in Mussoorie and crowding at markets.
Hotel's overbooked? Never mind! People are on their toes to splurge and grab anything available.
It didn't take us much time to go from zero hospital beds to zero hotel beds.
The overcrowding at tourist places has now got the health ministry and Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself worried. On Tuesday, the health ministry warned that travel and tourism without precaution could very well spell the beginnings of third wave.
Satiating Your Travel Itch
The sentiment has become so popular that it has become a thing and there's even a name for it - "Revenge travel".
It's not as sinister as it sounds. It certainly doesn't have anything to do with getting back at someone.
It's actually a phrase which was coined last year in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It's used to capture the bottled-up demand or feeling to satiate one's interest in travel to break-free.
It's actually not an entirely new term. It's a spinoff of "revenge spending", or "revenge buying", that has been around for decades. It was coined when consumer spending exploded in China and people were eager to buy things.
So, if your social media feed is bombarded with pictures of bustling hilltops, crowded highways or your friend sipping drinks by the beach, you now know what that is.
"If it was just a few months, you can hold together. After a point, it starts getting really weird for everybody to just stay home," says 25-year-old Shabari Lengti, who returned to India from Canada last year.
Shabari has been travelling at the slightest opportunity, either solo or with family.
"I don't have a lot of friends here and staying indoors for months together without having to do anything is kind of a little depressing," she says.
Getting Back at COVID, With Travel
Some experts think that revenge travel is more about retaliation or traveling with a vengeance.
"I cancelled a week-long trek in the hills with my friends. I'd been planning since a year! Now, I've booked a month long getaway in the mountains. Beat this!"
But the retaliation is against Covid-19 and not the travel itself.
27-year-old Mallikarjun Pattankar, who is from Gulbarga in Karnataka, took off on a bike, with no destination in mind or itinerary.
Gulbarga-Mumbai-Vadodara-Udaipur-Jaipur-Delhi-Manali-Spiti-Leh. This has been his route, his friend who has been guiding him from Karnataka, says.
Not everyone has been jetting off without precaution or plan in sight.
Is there good hygiene protocol? Are there capacity limits at the pool we always go to? Some are doing their due diligence too.
Mythreyee and Kabir went on a weekend trip at a secluded Airbnb with a private pool in Kurukshetra, near Ambala, after doing a million searches.
"We got tested, drove in our car from Point A to Point B and came in contact with just the caretaker and his wife during our two-day stay," Mythreyee says.
"We really needed a break from monotony. We were getting burnt out, just working inside our homes."
We Can't Take Anything for Granted Anymore
Revenge travel underlines exactly what everyone has been saying since the pandemic began - that we can no longer take anything for granted and anything can shake us up, rock our foundations.
"I have been cooped up since 3 months. I have seen things. Before an impending third wave, I want go out and travel as much as I want to," Kshitij Pujari, who is in Dharamshala with his friends, says.
It is also the realisation that there's so much free time which moves travel plans up on the priority list.
"Before the pandemic, we’d make a lot of plans, but we’d always say...next month or next year. I feel the urge to travel now is because we’re stuck in the house and realising there’s so much time wasted," Joseph Sebastian says.
So, with everything going on, it's only natural for us to break free and make up for lost time.
That doesn't mean we should let our guards down. The virus is still very infectious. And while we are bursting to get out, not following COVID-appropriate behaviour could spell trouble the country cannot afford.
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