Why the Notion of ‘Revenge Travel’ is Stupid

|   Last Updated on February 26, 2023

The worldwide nightmare called COVID-19 doesn’t want to go away. We see it in new variants, in the way we wonder whether every sore throat or sniffle is caused by the virus, and even in our day-to-day news and conversation. As soon as COVID began releasing its stranglehold on travel, the phrase, “revenge travel,” suddenly appeared.

To me, it’s a phrase that has become overused and misused, because ‘revenge’ and ‘travel’ should never be written or uttered in the same sentence. It’s an insult to travelers, as well as the concept of travel itself.

So, just what is revenge travel? According to Pop Culture by Dictionary. com, revenge travel is, “a slang term for leisure travel that follows a period of being unable to travel. Specifically, the term originated as a way to refer to vacationing following the lessening of COVID-19 restrictions.”

The definition goes on to say, “This trend has been explained, particularly by travel marketers and in media reports, as being the result of revenge travel — people taking ‘revenge’ on COVID-19 by taking the trips that the pandemic prevented them from taking earlier.”

The Problem with this Term

What’s wrong with revenge travel and the definition? Let’s begin with the idea that individuals can take revenge on a virus. You can wear a hot little revenge dress in the hope the dirtbag who ditched you regrets his decision. You can take revenge on a coworker who upstaged you in front of the boss by ‘accidentally’ spilling cream-laden coffee on her white designer suit.

Such actions are often ineffective, but they fit the criteria of revenge. The target is an individual who will suffer in some way for wronging you.

COVID-19 feels nothing. It doesn’t know, in as much as a virus can know anything, including that you even exist. So, where does the revenge part come in?

My main problem with revenge travel has to do with the travel part.

The Real Reasons We Travel

El Tamborito Dancers in Boquete, Panama.
El Tamborito Dancers in Boquete, Panama. Photo by Simon Lock

Why do people travel? We travel as a way of broadening our world view and understanding cultures other than our own, to challenge ourselves physically and/or mentally, or for business. We travel to gain new experiences, volunteering abroad, getting away from it all by doing nothing, and we travel to spend time with family and friends. Those experiences become absolutely priceless.

But how in the world does one travel for revenge?

Sexy dresses and milky coffee are intended to have a negative effect. With few exceptions such as funerals, a loved one’s illness, being manipulated into going to the in-laws for Thanksgiving, travel is a positive activity that makes us all very happy.

The bottom line is revenge travel is here to stay, and though you have the right to use that phrase, I find it sad that such an illogical, misguided term is being used without consideration of what it’s even saying.

So, I’ll try not to roll my eyes when reading or hearing, “revenge travel,” but I truly hope there are others who treasure travel enough to forever banish this phrase from their vocabulary.

Last Updated on February 26, 2023


  • Penny Zibula

    Penny Zibula has been a freelance writer and blogger since she retired in 2013. Her background is in public relations and community outreach, with stints as a newspaper reporter, television talk show host, and producer. She applies her life-long love of learning and passion for travel to her writing about destinations, history, culture, food, and accessibility.