Right now everyone you’ve ever met is on holiday in Europe. It’s OK. It’s really OK. But wait, is it OK? Maybe it doesn’t actually feel that OK?
Of course you want your sister, your best friend, your old work colleague and the bloke who prescribes your dog’s medicine to have a wonderful time. But because we’re human beings, sometimes our noble impulses are overwhelmed by our own bitterness – even if it’s bitterness of the “trivial” and “obscenely privileged” variety. If we thought good thoughts all the time, what would Johnny Cash have had to sing about?
Luckily, there are some things you can do to cheer yourself up. Unluckily, most of these things require your imagination, but this is a small price to pay compared with a plane ticket to Europe.
1. Recreate Europe at home
You don’t need to go to Italy to eat sumptuous bowls of pasta coated in thick ruby-red sauce and dusted with parmesan curls. You don’t need to go to Poland to eat sour cream-soaked pierogi that fall apart deliciously as soon as they touch your tongue. You don’t need to go to France to walk around eccentrically with a large baguette, whacking passersby on the head while trying to figure out how to use the train.
If you’re really looking to recreate that holiday feeling, spend a few hours listlessly walking through open-air markets, picking up and smelling fresh produce while smiling contentedly to yourself. Act like the produce has just told you a delicious secret. Don’t bother buying it. “What an experience!” you’ll say to the person next to you, who is still mad that you whacked them with a baguette earlier.
If this doesn’t appeal, consider going to a restaurant where you can’t access a menu and all the servers are rude to you.
2. Flip through photos of trips passed
If you’re lucky enough to have once travelled to Europe, now might be a good opportunity to take a stroll down memory lane.
Questions that might be fun to consider include: what was my favourite piece of art I saw on this trip? If I was to write a novel about this holiday, what would it be called? How can I become a more ethical traveller on my next big adventure?
Questions that are best avoided: why don’t I look like that any more? Did Tabitha ever pay me back for that souvlaki I bought her? Why is there an eerie hooded figure in the corner of every single one of these photos?
3. Remind yourself of the downsides of travel
Holidays are wonderful and it’s silly to pretend otherwise. But they’re not always wonderful. Once my sister went on a holiday to Europe 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 games.
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 envy. Why not replicate the plane experience and sit in a tiny chair for eight hours while watching 27 Dresses on repeat and eating reheated mashed potato? Why not wear one of those small money belt things (the ones that seem to body shame you no matter what size you are) every day for a week?
Why not stand on the wrong side of the escalator and have morning commuters scowl at you? Lose your phone on a crowded street! Pay $400 for a phone call! Get creative!
4. Watch movies where going to Europe is the worst mistake anyone could make
Like Midsommar or Titanic. (Technically this last one was leaving Europe, but it still makes 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, where there have been a fair few murders. Very good bakeries though.)
Chances are you haven’t actually visited the tourist traps in your own city and now is the time. If you’re not sure where to go, wander into the CBD and just join any queue you see. Once you reach the beginning of the queue, give up your place and join a different queue. You’ll seem mysterious and generous, which are great qualities to fake.
6. Get a hobby
This is annoying advice, I know. The key is that if you want to avoid seeing pictures of your ex-boyfriend sunning himself in the Greek islands, you need to take up a hobby that requires your full attention. My suggestions would be: archery, flower arranging or arguing with people on the train who put their feet up on the seat.
7. Remember how long it took your friends to get their passports
It took so long.