2020’s Five Stages of Grief for Those Who Love to Travel

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2020 has been a horrible year! With over 500,000 deaths worldwide, millions of jobs lost and genuine fear for the wellbeing of loved ones, being unable to travel is decidedly low on the list of things that are worthy of grieving. But I couldn’t help noticing how applicable the “five stages of grief” are to those of us who haven’t been able to travel during 2020. These stages are:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

So without wishing to minimise the genuine suffering of many, I thought it might be fun to write about how many of us travel fanatics have progressed through the five stages of grief, with links to some InsideFlyer UK articles that have been written along the way.


If you think back to January / February, you might recall first hearing of a virus that was most prevalent in a Chinese city named Wuhan. Although a handful of cases were popping up outside of China, you might have been thinking:

It’s just a problem for travel to China

Keep calm and keep travelling

These countries rely on tourist revenue so we should still visit

“Airplanes have excellent air filtration systems so will be perfectly safe”


Classic symptoms of denial…


At some point in mid to late March, denial was no longer an option. Anger may well have set in…

$%&!#!  My travel plans have been ruined

I’m stranded overseas but the only airline available wants to charge me £10,000 for a flight home!

That bl—y airline won’t refund my money!!!

Why won’t they extend my elite status?  $%&!#

A 14-day quarantine? What are those jokers in government thinking?!?!?!?!


Some people, but not everybody, might have found themselves almost immediately in the bargaining phase, which is a natural attempt to regain some element of control over the situation.

I’ll book my travel 11 months in advance. Surely it will all be over by then…

That fare is too good to be true. I’ll book it and hope to be able to travel.

Qatar Airways are offering WHAT?!?!  I’m in!

Since I can’t travel as normal right now, my elite status is in jeopardy – I’d better book a Tier Point run or two for later…


I’ve been stuck in this phase for several months now, with minimal interest in booking travel. Things that come to mind are…

Will I ever be able to safely travel again or in a manner that doesn’t worry my loved ones?

What will even be open at my destination? Hotels? Restaurants? Museums?

With mandatory masks, no hot food onboard and lounges closed, flying in Business or First Class won’t be very comfortable or enjoyable

Will I even be allowed to enter the country I plan to visit, or be allowed to return home with or without quarantine?


I don’t really know anybody who has made it all the way to the “acceptance” phase. But if one or two readers have genuinely made it (and aren’t confusing it with the denial phase) I suspect that you are thinking…

I don’t care if the flight is uncomfortable and my accommodation less luxurious than normal, I am going to take advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit Venice, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Paris, Rome, etc. WITHOUT the masses…


Safe travels everybody… or enjoy your staycation at home… 🙂


  1. Doc says

    Sorry Craig but acceptance state is more like “ There is not a lot I can do about it currently. I will have to just wait and see what happens since at this moment in time, no travel just yet”.

    • Craig Sowerby says

      Quite right. Cheers. I certainly don’t want to argue with a proper doctor about my armchair psychology for entertainment. 🙂

      I just don’t know how any travel fanatic can be anything other than sad – I know I shouldn’t really joke with the word “depression” because mental health is definitely not a joke – or travelling wherever they can! 😀

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