Squashing Vacation Envy

Squashing Vacation Envy - picture of cafe at tropical island beach at sunset

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Just the other day, I was reading my Twitter feed when a picture of an ocean sunset caught my eye.  After taking a closer look, I realized that a friend from high school was in in the picture as well.  With the ocean behind her, she posed elegantly in a shimmering black evening gown that looked reminiscent of something worn at the Oscars.  I immediately wondered, “What in the world is going on here?”  But it didn’t take long to figure it out.  As I clicked jealously through a few additional pictures she had posted, it became increasingly apparent “what in the world was going on.”

They were on vacation.

Diagnosing Vacation Envy

It can happen to anyone this time of year.  If you’re in between trips or trying to save up for your next adventure, it can seem like forever until you’re able to travel again.  And if you’re only able to travel when school is out-of-session, spring break can feel like a lifetime away.  The wait can be torturous.

Since we usually don’t travel from August to February, I’m currently on vacation countdown mode.  Every single day, a friend we’re traveling with next year posts an updated count on social media (64 days and 11 hours to go!)  But even with the friendly reminders, I still start getting antsy.  It’s cold where I live, after all, and I get envious knowing that others are enjoying beautiful, even tropical, weather in locations across the globe.  Vacation envy sets in.  You know you have a problem when you start feeling resentful towards friends who take their kids on a Christmas trip to Disney, or others who innocently post pictures of their own winter getaway.  Like a frozen cucumber, I spend winters cold and green with envy.  Bah-humbug.

Fortunately, there are many ways to overcome vacation envy and its effect on your psyche.  Being jealous of others accomplishes nothing and it certainly won’t make winter move along any faster.  So, instead of cursing high school friends for enjoying a nice vacation with their family, I’ve recently adopted a Vacation Envy-Free Zone policy.  Want to join me?  Here are the rules:

  • Be happy for people: I know, I know.  This should be a given, right?  But, it’s easier said than done when you walk in from scraping the ice off your windshield with frozen hands to find that your friend texted you a selfie from Rio de Janeiro.  But, I digress.  It’s important to be happy for others when they travel because you would expect the same in return, am I right?
  • Learn about their trip:  Instead of becoming envious of your friend’s itineraries, use them as an educational experience.  Check out pictures of their travels.  Ask them questions.  Learn about where they went and search for businesses that offer travel to that particular location.  You could also save yourself a few bucks this way by learning why you might not want to visit a particular region.
  • Research your next vacation:  When I become overcome by the wintertime blues, I like to do a little research on my upcoming travel plans, even if they’re still months away.  We’re headed to Jamaica in February and keeping up-to-date on trip reviews and travel forums provides a great distraction from the fact that the sun hasn’t come out for an entire week.  Hey, you do what you gotta do, am I right?  Ya mon.
  • Take a mini-trip: If you’re super depressed by the thought of your friends going on vacation and having fun, you may just need to get out of the house.  Even a weekend in your favorite hotel can be highly therapeutic simply because it gives you time to get away.  And when you’re stressed out, a weekend away can provide major relief.

Vacation envy is a disease for which there is no cure.  On the other hand, you don’t have to let it suck you into the pits of despair.  Instead of letting vacation envy take hold, try being happy for your family and friends, even the ones that are wealthier, more attractive, and funnier than you are.  Take time to learn about their travels.  Do a little research on your upcoming vacation or take a weekend trip.  The best way to overcome vacation envy is to be proactive about it and focus on the positives in your life.  And before you know it, you’ll be the “checking in” at the airport on Facebook and loving every minute of it.

Have you ever suffered from vacation envy?  If so, how did you overcome it?

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  1. One of my colleagues just came back from Cancun. I’ve got vacation envy bad!

    A friend of my sister has parents that retired to Playa del Carmen. I guess it’s true what they say – you really can make everyday of your retirement feel like a vacation.

    1. I love Playa del Carmen. That would probably be a great place to retire because it’s relatively cheap and very safe.

  2. I totally hear you on that! Especially when it’s really cold- but honestly, I usually feel worse for the vacationers coming back to really cold weather. My in-laws just got back from Phoenix and arrived to sub-zero weather- no fun!!!

  3. Whoa, Jamaica sounds nice! In years past my wife and I would take several “mini” vacations over the winter season, usually to the mountains. But those suckers can be expensive! We would always come home thinking “those 2 nights away cost almost as much as a cheap week-long rental at the beach”, which is where we really like to go.

    1. We have never been to Jamaica before! We’re very excited.

  4. Ben @ The Wealth Gospel says:

    I have vacation envy just about every day. I have to keep myself from researching cruises and flights because I know we don’t have the money for it yet, but I’m sure that I would somehow justify it if I spent too much time on it.

    1. Searching for vacations is half the fun, I think! It’s an escape.

  5. I get serious vacation envy. I have debt and can’t afford to go anywhere.

    One friend likes to go to different countries to see Formula 1 races – Dubai this year, Italy last year. Other friends just head for the sun and post lots of envy causing pictures on Facebook

    My ex-husband takes outrageously expensive exotic month long trips because he has mountains of money. That doesn’t make me jealous but it does make me angry because our children are in university and racking up student debt but he never seems to have money to help with text books or tuition.

  6. Oh gosh absolutely I have suffered (and still suffer) from vacation envy. My wife doesn’t get PTO so we always have to factor in the lost income if we do go on vacation, and we also have some bigger savings goals for an emergency fund and a new used car. Because of this we don’t take many vacations but we both love to travel. I think I’m still trying to treat my vacation envy, thanks for the tips!

    1. Haha!

      Yeah, it’s basically the same for me right now. My website makes money whether I’m here or not but I can’t do freelance writing jobs on vacation so I always take a paycut when we go.
      We still go though, it’s worth it. I try to do extra work before and after our trips so that it doesn’t hurt so much.

  7. I get vacation day envy… ya know for the folks that have so many vacation days available to them that they don’t have to scrimp and save and count out every last one to make sure they’re not working Christmas Eve as a result of poor planning… =P

    1. Ha! Me too! I always used every single vacation day at my old job…down to the point where I couldn’t get sick or miss the entire month of December. I felt like I had to do it that way because we lost any days that we didn’t use. I definitely wasn’t going to let that happen!

  8. I think most people have vacation envy! I live in a vacation town and I’m still jealous when I see friends from out of town post pictures of being at our beach just 25 minutes away when I’m stuck in the office!

    1. Yeah, I can see that. We love the beach and would struggle to be productive if we lived where you live. BTW, we’re coming in May (I think!)

  9. I think it’s funny when people are on vaca and clearly are on social media the entire time talking about how much fun they’re having.

    1. Haha! Me too. Some people give you the whole play-by-play too.
      I usually post a pic or two then the rest when we get home. I don’t really want to alert people to the fact that we’re not home, know what I mean?

  10. I don’t get too much envy, mostly because I am not on a single social media network so I wouldn’t get their vacation shoved down my throat. I am also not much of a beach person so seeing pictures of someone at a beach wouldn’t thrill me much. In fact I think we are the ones people get envious of, because we like to travel and save to make it a priority.

    If someone goes someplace that I have never been I usually ask them tons of questions about their experience to see if that is somewhere I would want to go sometime.

    1. You’re not on any social media??!?!?!?! That’s a rarity! =)

      I love the beach and wish I could go five times a year at least. We do like to travel other places as well, though. It depends what kind of mood we’re in!

  11. Love this, Holly. It’s been over 5 years since we’ve had a “real” vacation, and thus, we get some vacation envy real often. These tips will certainly help – thank you! 🙂 P.S. we’ve had sub-zero temps for going on two weeks now – aarrghh!

    1. Ugh, I feel for ya. It’s pretty cold here (not quite as cold as where you are!) but it’s mostly just dreary out. It feels like the sun hasn’t come out in weeks.

  12. I really don’t like to travel . If I could be transported to a location ala Star Trek there are places I’d like to visit but the traveling is such a hassle. So we save up and do one really fabulous trip every other year or so. Our best friends go 2-3 times a year on cruises and a couple of smaller trips as well and I have to admit most of the time I wonder why they would want to go to the places they choose. But they love travel, want to see the world and can afford it. But I can honestly say I have no envy at all.

    1. Good for you, Kathy! Traveling can be a hassle, I agree. It’s worth it for us at this point in our lives. Maybe we’ll feel differently when we’re older and have been more places.

  13. Not really. I guess I have time envy. And wishing the inlaws lived someplace more interesting envy. If I envied people’s expensive vacations we could take them, but instead we visit relatives in the middle of nowhere. I do get a lot of travel through work and sometimes take the family.

    1. I can relate to that. I really do enjoy visiting my in-laws but it was hard to do when we only had 15 vacation days. If we went to see them twice a year, that usually used up 5 days. (2.5 days each time), mainly because it’s a 12 hour drive and it took a day each way. When we got 20 vacation days after 5 years, it was much easier!

      Now it’s not as hard because our days are more flexible.

  14. I had to remove my Facebook because of this. And not just vacations, but life. It became too “Keeping Up with the Joneses” for me.

    I hate comparing my life to others, yet seeing those vacation pictures or nights out pictures on Facebook drove me straight to Jealousyville.

    I’m glad I can admit to it. Most people might think it’s a problem, and to be honest it is, but at least I resolved the situation by taking myself out of it (by removing FB).

    Your post Holly has just inspired a post for NWW. Thank You! 😉

    The Warrior

  15. I am totally guilty of vacation envy! It’s especially bad because I want to go everywhere I can, so I can find something to be jealous over in just about everyone’s trips that I see or hear about. I need to take some of your action steps to tone it down over here 🙂

  16. Oh, I get it all the time…especially when there is snow on the ground and it’s colder than can be here. I was just telling my wife last night how it was only six weeks away from our next vacation and I can’t wait! Granted, it’s not exactly hot in Vegas in January, but I can’t wait to get there. That said, when I do get jealous, I just start working on our next vacation – it seems to make it a little easier to stomach then. 🙂

  17. It really doesn’t bother me what other people are doing. I’m happy they have a chance to enjoy themselves but I don’t get envious of their life. We do love to plan and look ahead to our own stuff though. That helps build a sense of anticipation for what we are going to experience.

  18. I squash vacation envy by collecting ideas of where/where to not go next year! Everyone’s experience for me is a learning experience. I ask a lot about the vacation and look at pictures and that way I have a good idea about where my next trip is to 🙂

    1. Me too! I have learned a lot from people who have traveled before me, mostly to places that I actually want to visit.

  19. Since it was -8 degrees this morning, I am envious of anyone who is warm. Does it make you envious that we’re going to Kentucky after Christmas? Not really a vacation, but at least we get all the child care we can handle. My parents could really care less whether we are there or not as long as we bring the grandchild!

    1. Yes, I am totally jealous! You should come up to Indiana and visit us!

  20. I’m definitely suffering from vacation envy right now. It usually isn’t that bad because I have a trip to plan or look forward to, but now with a 5 month old, I’m not sure when the next vacation will be. Maybe a mini vacation. We’ll see. Some of my friends travel with little ones but it seems too stressful.

    1. We have always traveled with our little kids. It can be stressful but it can also be fun with some thoughtful planning ahead of time!

  21. Yes I’ve totally been a “victim” of VE. Staying off Facebook helps, or hiding people who are constantly traveling is one helpful trick. Also realizing that some of those people on FB probably had their own vacation envy and might not have been on a trip for a long time, just like me. 🙂 I also use it to light a fire under my ass to save money and make more money so I can travel.

  22. I think I’m as susceptible to envy as anyone else. I like to remind myself of our own trips (or house, car, whatever) and try to feel grateful. It oddly also helps to remind myself that others probably feel that same emotion towards my wife and I sometimes, too.

    1. Feeling grateful helps! We all have a lot to be thankful for.

  23. I definitely feel the same way from time to time, but I don’t think I get the travel itch as much as others. Have you ever considered moving somewhere that was warmer year round? I think about possibly moving to Florida and while it would be nice not to have to deal with the months of shoveling snow and 8 layers of clothes, I think I would miss it too.

    1. No, not really. I like Indiana and I love spring, summer, and fall. I just hate winter!

  24. This is probably my worst of all envies. Especially with so many of my high school friends getting to go back “home” because their parents still live overseas. My Facebook feed explodes with amazing vacations this time of year (and in the summer). I’ll have to try to take your advice to heart, but I anticipate I’ll still feel some rage.

  25. I don’t know what it is, but I rarely ever have vacation envy. I am not sure why, but it just never comes into my mind. Maybe because I have too many thoughts going on in there, but being envious of another’s vacation is one of them.

    1. too many thoughts going on in there. That’s probably it.

  26. I only let it bother me for a second, and then I am happy for them. I think there is nothing more unattractive than the jealousy so many people feel regarding other peoples lives. Live your life as best as you can and be happy with it. They might be on vacation now, but I can go on a vacation in two years – then maybe they’ll look at my pictures and say “aww, I wish that was me” 🙂

  27. I think I temper any vacation envy I may have by planning my next trip! With all the travel rewards I’m earning from credit cards, we can go just about anywhere we want — it’s just a matter of finding a place that will be suitable for the whole family (or finding some nice grandparents to watch the girls…).

    We went to Jamaica this past summer for a friend’s wedding and it was wonderful! We were in Negril and it was a really nice vacation for sure.

  28. I don’t get vacation envy because I know that lots of my friends have debt, mostly in the form of student loans and maybe a car loan, so I just tell myself that they’re stupid and they’re living beyond their means. It might sound harsh but it keeps me from being tempted to keep up with them. Maybe next time you start to feel envious you should just tell yourself that your friends are living beyond their means (whether they are or not is irrelevant)

    1. Well, that’s probably true about 99% of the time. Like you said, you never know when someone charged their whole trip!

  29. I am usually the one people are envious of, and rarely deprive myself of anything I want. When I was working, I used to have super nice weekend, always with something to look forward to, to forget my job sucked that much.

  30. I’m a Disney freak. I’m a member of a few Disney planning FB groups and we talk about Disney everything. From where to stay, to eat, to rent stroller, etc. It’s fun to plan but also hard not to feel jealous of those that are currently vacationing. Especially when we don’t have a time frame of when we’re going on our next vacation.

    1. We’ve never taken the kids to Disney but might in the future. I’m kind’ve learning toward a Disney cruise actually. Does anyone in your group go on those?

  31. Hey Holly, I suffer from vacation envy every day. I work where I’m the only person that knows what I do. If I take a vacation, the business could suffer. So, 2 years without one and running. Ugggg! Thanks for the great read!

  32. I love to travel and so I do get vacation envy. Especially this year because we’re trying to payoff some debt and be more frugal. I help others plan their getaways though. I enjoy planning itineraries too.

  33. I find researching my next vacation a lot of fun. I am crazy though and I research like CRAZY though. Everyone tends to make fun of me because I will know so much about a random restaurant haha.

  34. Oh, I had major vacation envy before we took our trip last summer. Hearing and seeing pics from everybody’s vacations made me want to go on a trip, right now! Like you said, it’s taking a deep breath and remembering your vacation will soon be here, so be happy that others can go on vacation too. And I do think little getaways can help make it easier too. 🙂

  35. Honestly, I don’t get vacation envy. I must have been vaccinated from it when I was young. 🙂 I actually enjoy things being the same day after day….routine makes me comfortable. I do enjoy the occasional vacation….but even after a few days I’m ready to come back home and get back into my routine. Hmmm, the more I type the more concerned I get about my well being…

  36. I totally get vacation envy when people go to far off exotic places. I’m actually more envious when they can do it on the cheap.

  37. Tell ya what…people I barely know from high school who post “facebrags” get immediately unfriended these days. I can be happy for people I know and like, but not for the girl in high school who pretended to not know my name for 3 years. Yes, I hold a grudge dammit…

  38. I think it’s easy to have vacation envy, especially when some things are holding you back from traveling. I’ve never been overseas or traveled during the winter, so I guess it’s easy for me to brush off. However, I do get jealous in general of those that are able to do so much traveling. Vacation time at my job is limited, and my priority is student loans, so traveling extensively is off the agenda for now. I do try to be happy for others and ask them questions about their trips, though!

  39. Ha yes – we may have just spent most of the year travelling but there are still a lot of places I want to visit!

  40. I feel like I’m taking a vacation every time I come to Club Thrifty…. 🙂

  41. I simply opted to spend less time on Facebook so I only really interact with close friends. This really limits the amount of vacations I wind up hearing about so it doesn’t feel like everyone else is on vacation but me. The other part for me is just being patient. I’ve changed jobs frequently and having put in the time to build up a sizable PTO pool yet where I could take trips more frequently.

  42. It’s definitely that time of the year where you just want to take it back and relax. Everyone just wants some time to hit the road and go away from the busyness of everything in the city.

  43. I think I give most of my friends back home vacation envy. It seems like the entire state of Florida has opted-out of participating in Winter this year, and while it’s 85 here, my friends are shoveling snow. However– sometimes I’m envious of their ski trips!

  44. Good article and good tips, except that it assumes we are all actually going to have a vacation in our futures to look forward to. It is MUCH harder to squash vacation envy or be happy for everyone else when it’s been 10 years since your last getaway with your spouse, and plans for another are nowhere on the horizon. 🙁 I try, but I have found the easiest thing to do is hide “frequent travelers” from my FB newsfeed so what I don’t know can’t hurt me.

    1. Ugh, Erika! I am so sorry to hear that! Do you have a rewards credit card? Most of my vacations are paid for with miles and points.

  45. I definitely agree on this. Traveling is loved by many people and I think the best way to explore and experience the places you go to is learn from other people’s experience and research all of it. I love to travel and visit new places and I research on tips like this to have an excellent time and especially right now, I’ll be traveling with my family and kids so I need help and read a lot of great travel advices like this. thanks for sharing!

  46. I highly disagree that “Vacation Envy” is a disease…

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