Shhh! We’re Heading Off on Vacation

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We’re Heading Off on Vacation

Sharing vacation adventures used to be fun. But during the pandemic, some travelers are content to let the tree fall in the forest, so to speak, without a single soul to hear it.

Elena Gaudino on her terrace in Brooklyn, with the camping gear she’ll use on her vacation.

Next month, Elena Gaudino will fly from New York to Las Vegas, rent an S.U.V. and drive to the Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree National Park and other desert destinations. The 10-day road trip stands in for her favorite annual tradition — Burning Man, the Nevada arts festival that was canceled this year because of the pandemic — and gives her something to look forward to after a coronavirus-induced travel dry-spell.

Now she is itching to trade her Brooklyn apartment for the wide-open spaces of the American Southwest. But unlike in years past, Ms. Gaudino will post no requests for restaurant recommendations on Facebook, nor will she swap excited texts with friends detailing her itinerary. Aside from her husband and their two travel companions — and, now, readers of The New York Times — Ms. Gaudino has no plans to tell anyone about her trip.

“Some people believe you’re selfish for leaving your home unless it’s to get groceries,” said Ms. Gaudino, 34, a communications consultant. “I’d rather avoid potential altercations and I can go into this experience with a clear mind: I’m taking all the mandated precautions, I know the risk.”

Sharing the details about where we’ve traveled has always been a way to transmit our values, tastes and means — look no further than the postcards of the 19th century or the Kodak carousels of the 1960s and 70s. Then came Instagram, a decade ago, to turbocharge the practice. And while technology has made it easy to keep up with loved ones during this period of physical distance, there is one topic being withheld from conversations and hidden from social media: vacations. For a variety of reasons related to the pandemic, some travelers are content to let the tree fall in the forest, so to speak, without a single soul around to hear it.

In addition to protecting your self-image and reputation, a main reason people keep secrets is to protect relationships and avoid conflicts,” said Michael Slepian, a Columbia Business School associate professor who studies secrecy. “People often think, ‘You know, life would just be easier if I didn’t have that fight with my parents, so I’m not going to let them know about my trip.’”

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