Right now everyone you’ve ever met is on vacation in Europe. It’s OK. It’s really okay. But wait, is it okay? Maybe it doesn’t feel so good after all?
Of course you want your sister, your best friend, your old co-worker and the guy who prescribes your dog medicine to have a great time. But because we are humans, our noble impulses are sometimes overwhelmed by our own bitterness – even if it is bitterness of the “trivial” and “obscenely privileged” variety. If we always had good thoughts, what should Johnny Cash be singing about?
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to cheer yourself up. Unfortunately, most of these things require your imagination, but this is a small price compared to a plane ticket to Europe.
1. Recreate Europe at home
You don’t have to go to Italy to eat sumptuous bowls of pasta coated in thick ruby sauce and sprinkled with Parmesan shavings. You don’t have to go to Poland to eat sour cream-infused pierogi that fall apart deliciously as soon as they touch your tongue. You don’t have to go to France to wander around eccentrically with a large baguette, slapping passersby on the head while trying to figure out how to use the train.
If you’re really looking for that holiday feeling, spend a few hours listlessly wandering through open-air markets, picking up fresh produce and smelling them while smiling contentedly at yourself. Pretend the products just told you a delicious secret. Don’t bother buying it. “What an experience!” you say to the person next to you, who is still angry that you hit them with a baguette earlier.
If this doesn’t appeal to you, consider going to a restaurant where you can’t open a menu and all the servers are rude to you.
2. Browse photos of past trips
If you are lucky enough to have ever traveled to Europe, this might be a good opportunity to take a walk through memory.
Questions that might be fun to ponder include: What was my favorite piece of art that I saw on this trip? If I were to write a novel about this holiday, what would it be called? How can I become a more ethical traveler on my next big adventure?
Questions to avoid: why don’t I look like this anymore? Did Tabitha ever pay me back for that souvlaki I bought her? Why is there a creepy hooded figure in the corner of each of these photos?
3. Remind yourself of the downsides of traveling
Vacations are great and it’s foolish to pretend. But they are not always beautiful. My sister went on holiday to Europe once and ended up in a hospital in Paris because she had a severe allergy to a cat. So, you know. It’s not all fun and play.
It might be a good idea to remind yourself of the more “cat allergy” aspects of travel, just to take the sting out of your jealousy. Why not recreate the airplane experience and sit in a small seat for eight hours while you watch 27 Dresses repeat and eat reheated mashed potatoes? Why not wear one of those little money belt things every day for a week (the ones that seem to embarrass you, no matter your size)?
Why not stand on the wrong side of the escalator and let the morning commuters glare at you? Lose your phone on a busy street! Pay $400 for a phone call! Be creative!
4. Watching movies where going to Europe is the worst mistake anyone can make
Like Midsommar or Titanic. (Technically, the latter left Europe, but it’s still a strong case against international waters.)
5. Be a tourist in your own city
Did you know that people from Europe actually pay to come to Australia? It’s true! (Well, I suppose it depends on where you live. They pay a lot to go to Byron Bay, but probably wouldn’t be interested in coming to my suburb, which has quite a few murders. Very good bakeries though.)
Chances are you haven’t visited the tourist traps in your own city yet and now is the time. If you’re not sure where to go, walk into the CBD and just join in every queue you see† Once you reach the start of the row, give up your seat and join another row. You will seem mysterious and generous, which are great traits to fake.
6. Find a hobby
This is annoying advice, I know. The key is that if you don’t want to see pictures of your ex-boyfriend sunbathing in the Greek islands, then you should start a hobby that requires your full attention. My suggestions are: archery, flower arranging or arguing with people on the train who put their feet on the seat.
7. Remember how long it took your friends to get their passports
It cost so long†
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