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5 stages of taking your first holiday during the pandemic

People are packing their bags and heading to exotic locations to explore out-of-this-world landscapes and attractions.

In contrast to travel before the pandemic, one experiences a range of emotions now, from fear to happiness.

Being a travel journalist and travelling domestically since restrictions were lifted, going abroad presented its own set of challenges as I didn’t know what to expect.

As much as I wanted to shout in glee about heading to a new destination, the pandemic and the often cumbersome regulations kept me on edge.

If you are travelling, you may find yourself going through these five stages. These include:


The days before my trip felt like a nightmare. I was neither giddy with excitement nor counting the hours before I departed. Instead, I feared numerous aspects of the upcoming journey, including fears that my Covid-19 test would end up being positive, contracting the virus at the destination and how my body would handle wearing a mask for an almost 24-hour travel day.

While fear is a natural feeling and helped me properly prepare before and during the trip, travellers should not let fear take over their minds ahead of a trip. Part of going on a trip is the preparation and the countdown.

Tip: Address your concerns when fear starts to surface. Do this by researching your fears, speaking to other travellers or via positive affirmations. Fearing the unknown takes away from the travel experience. If that is the case, you should rather stay home.


When the initial fear subsides, you may find yourself feeling anxious. Besides the usual Covid-19 concerns, some may feel anxious over the thought of travelling again, especially if they have long haul journeys.

Some may feel anxious over flying, meeting new people or have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) over a previous travel incident. Dealing with travel anxiety depends on the individual case.

Tip: Whenever you feel anxious, think about a happy moment or something you are excited about experiencing on the trip. It helps me when I am in a confined space like planes or on public transport.


After arriving at a destination, most travellers have their guard up. Whether it’s a result of past travel experiences or too much research, some travellers can’t shrug off that wary feeling. While they want to enjoy their holiday and soak in the views, they also plan for the worst.

I was guarded on my first day at the new destination mainly because I didn’t know what to expect. Maybe I felt concerned over the pandemic.

Other travellers may feel unsafe, depending on where they go, or reflect on past experiences that make them put their guard up. There’s nothing wrong with being wary as long as it doesn’t ruin your holiday.

Tip: Live in the moment. Take steps for your safety and deal with issues as they arise.

Travel joy

While travel joy usually takes place on your first day of the holiday, some need a few days to ease into it. It took me 24 hours to adjust and savour the trip.

I embraced being in my new destination and felt immense joy at having the opportunity to explore once more following a year and a half of not going on long haul journeys.

Tip: Relish your joy and embrace every last second because there will be a point in your journey when you do not want to leave.

You don’t want to leave

It is natural to want to stay at the new destination forever. Travellers become used to the destination, the people and the amenities that it feels weird to think of going home. Some extend their trip for a few days longer while others have serious fomo of leaving.

Tip: Start planning another holiday. The only way to get over one is to go on another trip. If it works for relationships, it can work for your holiday fomo.

This story originally appeared on IOL

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