The 5 stages of pandemic for travel content creators

You know about the 5 stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance), right? Well, when it comes to travel bloggers and frequent travellers, here’s a content creation evolution I noticed in myself and others online in the past year and I think it’s remarkably close.

Although my blog hasn’t been strictly a travel blog for a while now and I always write my travel posts with a lot of delay, I noticed that I went through several stages of adapting my content in the past year. Since I normally post about random stuff from my arsenal depending on how much time and motivation I have in that week, that might not have been so apparent, but you can definitely see some mentality shifts on the timeline. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to share and reflect on how we can actually grieve for lifestyle changes as well, because according to psychologists, we actually should.

Stage 1: It will all be over soon

March 2020: A global pandemic? It’s alright, we’ll hang at home for a month or so until it settles down… It’s not so bad, we’ll be travelling again by the time summer comes around. Let’s all post some travel memories, suggestions of lockdown activities and whatever new inspiring hobby we’ve picked up during the initial lockdown enthusiasm. Look, sourdough bread! Positive vibes! Sounds a lot like denial, right?

Stage 2: Explore all the local stuff!

F*ck your recycled travel memories! You know what, if we can’t go abroad, we can at least explore our own countries. Check this out, there’s a duck pond in my backyard and a super popular countryside trek I used to ignore, because it’s always full of screaming kids and dog poop, but it’s so epic! Also, travel shaming, local tourism and community.

At first glance the surge in local content looked like a positive thing and many people (re)learned to appreciate their homelands. However, many travel addicts dived into it in a sort of aggressive, defiant way, as if they were determined to show the world that they can still experience the thrill of travel right next door even though it doesn’t come close to the real thing. Obviously, varying degrees of local restrictions played a huge part in this and lots of people ended up staying at home as well, but I noticed that all of us bloggers got really good at selling what would otherwise be considered “mediocre” local destinations. Personally I think that’s actually a pretty cool thing, because the next time I’ll be planning a trip the information I’ll find won’t be limited to just the 10 must see destinations in a country.

Stage 3: Check out my crib and core values

There came a point last year when my heart would almost break every time I’d try to write a travel post. Since we couldn’t travel and were confined to a regional lockdown here in Slovenia, there was a part of me that just couldn’t survive reliving happy travel memories. They felt too faraway, like an inaccessible, obsolete software feature that the developers suddenly decided wasn’t needed in the new update.

Based on the feedback from my Instagram stories, most of my followers felt the same way, as they were more interested in anything but travel content. In a way it felt like a bargain with the universe, as if we could collectively avoid the word travel and focus on other types of content to make the time pass quicker so that we could finally get back to normal. Naturally that led to a huge increase in lifestyle, food, exercise and home decor content and everyone’s feed looked like a crossover between motivational quotes about what really matters and the designer side of Pinterest for a while.

Stage 4: What’s the point?

Following on the footsteps of “travel memories are too painful right now” was the concept of the new reality. We all slowly began to realise that there will be no going back to normal, but rather that this is the new normal. Many airlines and hotels went bankrupt, masks were here to stay for good in most countries, quick Covid testing and vaccination passports became the future and the return of casual travel was suddenly even further away. There was a whole boom of pessimistic predictions and “what travel will look like in the future” posts from experts and amateurs in the travel industry. Some predictions said that travel as we knew it won’t come back for like 5 years and the future looked bleak indeed.

Most of the content creators I know lost their creative motivation sometime during the 2nd pandemic wave and I often felt the same until I decided to start a podcast and bring some fresh passion to my blog. A lot of travel bloggers gave up altogether and are now on an indefinite break in an effort to not recycle old travel memories, but I say there’s nothing wrong with that as long as what you’re creating still makes you happy.

Stage 5: Let’s just go back to travel memories

Finally, acceptance. I feel like the New Year brought some much needed optimism, but also made me more impatient. As far as I am concerned, the restrictions now chafe more than they did in 2020, but it looks like we’re all finally getting somewhere with vaccinations, so hopefully things will get better soon. In the meantime, it looks like the travel community pretty much united behind #takemeback and is back to missing travel in a healthy way, sharing travel memories or making new ones where that’s already possible. Some people are of course being really irresponsible about it, but I feel like travel shaming does more good than bad in the long run, because the virus will keep spreading if people won’t admit where they’ve been to.

So there. I feel like most travel bloggers and social media influencers went through this or a similar evolution of content last year, particularly those who are primarily focused on travel content. Although some of them kept travelling during the pandemic or tried to travel in the shadiest, most irresponsible ways that gave rise to travel shaming in the first place, most of us found a way to adapt our content and connect with our audience on a more genuine level.

Whatever else we might say about this pandemic, one of the plus sides I noticed is that for a lot of people it was perhaps the first time that they had enough time to explore new interests and spend time with their family. Another is also the increased awareness of our impact as travellers, so I hope that when casual travelling does come back, it will come back in a more mindful, eco-friendly form (a woman can dream, right?).

Did you notice a similar trend online as I did? If you have a blog/social media thing, how did the pandemic affect your content creation process?

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6 thoughts on “The 5 stages of pandemic for travel content creators

  1. There definitely have been emotional stages in the pandemic. There’s also a strong emotional parallel to what North Americans (possibly people elsewhere) experienced after 9/11. There was a depressing understanding that life would never be the same again and that we were losing some of our freedom forever. That is happening now. This pandemic has been devastating for so many in so many different ways, and the uncertainty of what lies ahead is demoralizing.

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