I hesitated about writing this post for a while. Talking about the pandemic is a touchy subject. I’ve traveled during the pandemic and each time it ate me apart. The shocking amount of guilt I felt leaving was hard to work through. At the end of the day, I still made that decision to go and I can’t regret that for the rest of my life. Why? I realized love is not tourism.
A few months ago, I found the Love is Tourism petition and Facebook group. It’s a group for couples or families separated by the pandemic, trying to get back to each other, or petition their governments to allow partners in. I am lucky. Some EU states allow partners to visit each other if they can prove the relationship. Due to this stipulation, I was able to go when I was at my worst last year, but also to spend my birthday with someone I love rather than being by myself. This group matters to me because I don’t feel as lonely through all of this anymore. Instead, I feel as if someone else, even on the other side of the world, can understand my headspace right now.
You might be wondering, why is travel for love different from traditional tourism? Imagine being a parent and your partner is stuck in another country due to current regulations. You’re now a single parent essentially and your child can’t see their parent. Imagine living with your partner and they can’t get a new visa because the country isn’t issuing new ones and they have to go home. Now you can’t see them and your relationship is entirely online. I absolutely understand being stressed and wanting a vacation right now.
As we get vaccinated, everyone needs that break and ability to leave the country. But in this situation, families are separated and many couples aren’t going to survive the separation. There are safe ways to accomplish reuniting couples, so I believe we should try them. As the world is “reopening”, ask yourself: why is it okay for thousands of people to enter a stadium, en masse, without distancing, and nary a mask, but partners and families still can’t see each other?
As I mentioned earlier, the US has different rules from the EU. In the US, partners from China, India, the EU, and a couple others cannot enter if they’ve been in any of those countries in the last 14 days. The problem is, many of the countries the US is allowing entry from either aren’t safe, aren’t allowing entry, or are very expensive. I can fly directly and quarantine once I reach my destination with a PCR, but my partner has to spend 14 days in another country, pay for lodging, and then pay for a flight from that country to the US. We’re both on student budgets and that’s just not feasible. It’s not for many couples, so the separation is pretty indefinite until regulations change.
At the end of the day, all of this is about safety. With variants gaining prevalence and vaccinations slowing, it’s right to be cautious. I don’t want to put myself or my partner at risk, but I miss him. It’s part of why I’m looking forward to moving because it’s not only closer, but we can see each other. There are ways to stay safe in this pandemic. Testing regularly. Vaccines. Continuing mask wearing and distancing, both before and after vaccinations. So we can do this. We can reunite couples and families, safely. If we want to.
If you’d like to help, follow this amazing guide or check the official Love is Not Tourism website: www.loveisnottourism.com. Thanks for listening to me and I hope that this makes a little more sense. We all need to look out for each other and our mental health, and I hope that I can see my guy once before this summer ends.