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4 Ways to Deal with Travel-Jealous Friends

4 Ways to Deal with Travel-Jealous Friends

I recently had the misfortune of staring travel envy in the face, and it wasn’t pretty.

If you’re a frequent traveler, you’ve probably experienced it to some degree. You announce your travel plans for the umpteenth time and a friend scowls in jealousy, sometimes with a hurtful comment to go along with it.

I’ve read a lot of travel blogs describing the phenomenon of travel + losing friends, but I didn’t think anything like that would happen to me.

Image via Flickr by Florencia Cárcamo

Image via Flickr by Florencia Cárcamo

While I didn’t, in fact, lose anybody, I was still faced with an unpleasant situation that kicked me down a notch and left me wondering if it’s better to keep travel plans to myself.

I’m rarely social as it is, but a recent accomplishment prompted my mom to throw me a party. Since I’m an introvert who typically avoids social situations, she had to convince me it was a good idea. And it was – save for one awkward moment.

Early in the party, Friend A commented on our recent travels. Me, rarely having anything to be excited about in my life, got overly excited and said, “Guess where we’re going next?!” After telling her of our upcoming plans, Friend A sort of frowned (whether genuinely or sarcastically, I’m not sure), and Friend B looked at me and said, “Do you like rubbing people’s noses in it and making them feel bad?”

What followed was an awkward moment of me looking these two friends in the eyes and wondering what I’d done to deserve such scorn.

I’m the last person I would personally ever envy. The whole reason my husband and I started traveling in the first place was because we’d faced years of failed fertility treatments. We also dealt with financial losses stemming from the recession that will have lasting effects on our lives, something few of my friends will ever experience.

With no hope of ever starting a family or buying a home (the only two things I’ve ever wanted, save for a long life with my husband), travel was better than sitting around waiting for something I could never have. I managed to mutter as much to my friends, and that seemed to smooth things over, but the situation has made me wonder if sharing travel plans and experiences should be restricted to a select few.

Image via Flickr by Send me adrift.

Image via Flickr by Send me adrift.

It’s kind of a double standard, if you think about it.

Friends excitedly announce engagements, pregnancies, new-home purchases, firstborns going off the kindergarten, promotions . . . and we’re happy for them. I’ve seen friend after friend after friend get pregnant, and despite struggling with infertility, it never once occurred to me to spoil their good news. I’m genuinely happy for them. Maybe that’s just the type of person I am, but the reality is not everyone views the world that way.

So, how does one deal with travel-jealous friends? I’m by no means an expert, but here’s what I think I’ve learned:

Don’t Take It Personally

Hurtful comments are often nothing more than projections. When Friend B asked if I like making people feel bad, she was actually the one making me feel bad. Later that day, I found out that she had recently had a miscarriage, so she may have (subconsciously) been trying to make someone else feel as hurt as she felt.

Whatever the nature of the upsetting comment or action, don’t take it personally. I know it’s hard, but maybe there’s an underlying reason why they’re being hurtful – and it has nothing to do with you.

Mention Your Own Struggles

In my case, talking about the downsides of my life and the reasons why my husband and I travel seemed to help the situation. Opening up about any personal struggles you have when people are jealous of your travels can help remove some of that envy. Sometimes people need to be reminded that nobody’s life is perfect, no matter how flawless social media can make it seem.

Restrict Travel-Based Social Media Posts

In a world where our lives are connected via social media, I’ve found that my closest friends and family beg me to share travel photos and updates on Facebook. While it’s certainly fun to memorialize each trip with a Facebook album, that doesn’t mean it has to be available for just anyone to see.

Up until now, I’ve made my travel updates and photos available to all of my friends on Facebook, but going forward, I doubt I’ll continue that trend. While traveling with my husband brings joy to my life, sharing that joy is really only important to those select few who would be happy for us. It isn’t worth losing friends over, or attracting negativity.

Rise Above the Negativity

Whatever you do, don’t let jealous people bring you down. In my situation, I remained kind despite being blindsided. Had I not been on my antidepressants, though, who knows, I may have burst out crying. But I kept it together and didn’t return an equally hurtful comment. While I’ll know next time not to get overly excited when someone asks me about our travels, I won’t give in to negativity.

If you can’t think of anything to say, take a deep breath, smile, and laugh it off. Don’t let it get to you.

Have you ever dealt with travel-jealous friends? What did you do to help alleviate the situation? Let's commiserate in the comments! 

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