It’s been more than a year since the coronavirus first took over life as we knew it, and yeah, “pandemic fatigue” has set in. Big-time. But while millions of people are being vaccinated against COVID-19 every single day, we’re still in the thick of the virus. The CDC has been urging everyone to keep adhering to safety guidelines—e.g., wearing masks, social distancing, and traveling only if necessary.
None of this, however, has stopped some people from going on vacation, sometimes in secret to avoid ire from friends and family. Because while the pandemic has been understandably difficult for everyone, you’ve got to admit: It takes immense privilege and self-interest to be able to jet off while millions of other people are still quarantining safely at home, you know?
The COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t care about borders or how “desperately needed” you think your trip is. It’s still a very real health risk that doesn’t just affect travelers but also those they come in contact with. Even if you think no one was harmed by your travel, you may never find out if you transmitted the virus to a stranger in an indoor restaurant. Despite all the precautions one can take, the safest way to limit exposure to the virus—for yourself and others—is to stay the eff at home. Unsurprisingly, not everyone did that.
Ahead, Cosmo spoke to six people who packed their bags and set out to travel during the pandemic. Here’s how they justified their trips—and why they kept them under wraps.
“I said let’s take a chance and go visit our family.”
“Our flights were so cheap, thanks to the airline flights affected by COVID-19. So my family and I said let’s take a chance and go visit our family in Colombia for the holidays! I was in Colombia for two weeks in different cities and enjoyed every bit of it.” —30, Phoenix
“Even though I am ashamed of going on a vacation during the pandemic, I don’t regret it.”
“Honestly speaking, I was tired and frustrated sitting at home. I wanted a new scene. Lockdown is very strict in Germany. Many of my friends got stopped by the police for going to the supermarket. When I went away on a trip to Berlin, it wasn’t full lockdown. But I kept it a secret because I was a bit ashamed that I was putting myself and others at risk even though I wore masks wherever I went and kept my hands clean. Another reason for keeping it a secret is that I went with my new boyfriend, about who my family doesn’t know about except for my sisters, lol. It was our first time in Berlin. We just roamed around the city, went for the famous döner kebap, and visited some tourist sights. It was fun and relaxing. Even though I am ashamed of going on a vacation during the pandemic, I don’t regret it because we both got to know each other better during this trip. I did share some of the photos on Instagram but only to close friends.” —35, Nuremberg, Germany
“We knew it would be controversial.”
“Everyone I see regularly is a young, healthy 20something; none of us are at high risk for COVID-19 [complications]and some of us already got a version of it last March. After a year of living in this forced purgatory, we decided to take a trip to St. Bart’s for a girlfriend’s birthday. We knew it would be controversial, even though we’re not putting anyone at risk because we don’t see anyone at risk, so we kept it off social media. We had a blast and it was much needed after a very difficult year and no one got hurt.” 25, New York
“We had a strict ‘no phones’ policy.”
“I went through a devastating breakup with my longtime boyfriend of five years at the beginning of quarantine. Compounded with not being able to see any of my other loved ones IRL and having to move apartments mid-pandemic, I thought my mental health would never recover. Once the vaccine came out, I decided to plan a little getaway to upstate New York with some of my girlfriends and it was very healing. We obvs didn’t tell anyone because none of us wanted the criticism, and we had a strict ‘no phones’ policy, but it was exactly what I needed to feel somewhat sane again.” —25, Los Angeles
“We were confident we were being careful. We didn’t need to explain that to the world.”
“My husband needed to go to two cities for work. We thought it would be better to take a road trip than have him get on four flights. We decided to drive and camp every night. We brought all of the food we would need so we didn’t have to go inside very much. We didn’t share on social media because we didn’t want the negative backlash, plus we were confident we were being careful. We didn’t need to explain that to the world. In addition, our original honeymoon to Bora Bora and New Zealand got canceled, so this was a safe and feasible option to still do something special.” —30, Boston
“It was the only bit of normalcy I felt like I’ve had in years.”
“I’m going to be honest: Working as an emergency room nurse for the past year has severely damaged my mental health. Between the trauma of losing patients over and over to COVID-19 to having zero work-life balance, I knew that I was in a desperate need of a getaway. I planned to quarantine before and after my trip, but I had to get out. I took a weeklong vacation to the Hamptons with my boyfriend, where we socially distanced and saw some friends. It was the only bit of normalcy I felt like I’ve had in years and I would do it again. We were sure to be safe, but I knew that with my occupation, there would be backlash. Oh, well, sometimes you just have to do what’s best for you before returning back to life.” —28, New York
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