If you’re feeling guilty about booking a holiday while war rages in Ukraine, you should know that you’re not alone and there’s a reason you feel that way.
According to American psychotherapist Akua K. Boateng, it’s completely natural to feel bad about the suffering of others even when you’re not directly affected. It’s known as vicarious traumatization and the symptoms can resemble those of PTSD.
“These feelings parallel survivor’s guilt and/or remorse that manifested with COVID within the past two years,” Boateng recently told HuffPost. “Having guilt surface during this time is a sign of self-compassion and deep empathy for those in our world.”
According to the Office for Victims of Crime, a branch of the United States Department of Justice, individuals respond to vicarious trauma in a number of ways.
“People can either become more cynical or fearful, or they can become more appreciative of what they have, or both. Responses to vicarious trauma can be negative, neutral, or positive; can change over time; and can vary from individual to individual, particularly with prolonged exposure,” notes the OVC website.
The war in Europe is definitely having an effect on visitation to countries that neighbour Ukraine.
In an iNews report, Tom Jenkins, chief executive of the European Tourism Association noted that “the recovery trend for arrivals to Europe since January from long-haul markets has been strong, particularly from the US market. Demand from the States is currently holding up, except for destinations such as Russia, Ukraine and neighbouring countries. This may change.”
One of those countries is Hungary, a destination that is popular for river cruises hosted by companies like Avalon Waterways.
In a Travel Weekly story, the company’s managing director, Pam Hoffee said that American travel agents are hearing from clients who are worried about “celebrating” in Hungary while refugees stream into the country.
“Fear is one thing and it’s harder to overcome,” she said at Clia’s RiverView Conference. “But the fact you’re feeling bad is not a reason not to come.”
Her response to those agents and their worried customers is to remind them what a Visit Hungary representative told her: by supporting Eastern European economies such as Hungary’s, they will be able to continue to help refugees.
If you’re still not ready to book a vacation in this climate, you can use some of these ideas from a therapist on how to cope with any feelings of anxiousness or hopelessness you have about Ukraine, the ongoing pandemic, inflation or any of the other things going on in the world right now.