There are plenty of travel bloggers out there that will claim ‘anyone can travel if they really want to’. Although these posts are inspirational pieces of writing, rousing people to just save up and get out there, I find it quite difficult to read them without being reminded of this –pretty hilarious- sketch from College Humour:
Just like the girl in this video, lots of bloggers fail to appreciate that going travelling is disproportionally difficult for some people. Disproportionate being the key word. Lots of bloggers claim ‘anyone can travel if they really want to’ as though everyone has the same opportunity to travel and therefore the only reason people don’t travel is that they simply can’t want it enough. Which is wrong. And not only is it wrong; it’s condescending, narrow-minded and reeks of privilege. Here is –in true blogger form- a list of every claim I’ve read on travel blogs, and what is wrong with them.
Travelling isn’t that expensive. Just save up!
Ok, so first of all the term ‘expensive’ is relative. I recently read a blog post that called expensive travel a ‘myth’, quoting the fact that flights from America to Europe are only $400 USD. Is that cheap for what it is? Yes. Does that mean it’s cheap? No. For some people $400 USD is what they need to survive for months, it is not cheap.
In terms of saving money, Jasper and I are very proud of the fact that we saved up the money for our trip whilst supporting ourselves. But the very fact that we had any expendable income at all, means we’re already ahead of many others. For a lot of people the amount they would be able to save means they would be saving for years. I have to be honest, if it were that difficult for Jasper and I, we probably wouldn’t have bothered.
You don’t think you can travel because that’s what society wants you to think.
One main reason it was so easy for us to travel was because we have no responsibilities: no children, no elderly relatives to look after, no one that relies on our continued, stable presence in their lives. Neither do we have any physical or mental conditions that would make it difficult to travel. All of these factors, although they do not make travelling impossible, do make it substantially harder, and that can make all the difference. And when you combine these responsibilities with lack of funds (because so often they go hand-in-hand), travel is basically a no-go. So no: it’s not just society, it’s life.
The world is your oyster!
Privilege affects peoples’ ability to travel in another way which, I am ashamed to say, I didn’t fully appreciate until recently. There are plenty of places in the world where just being who you are, is a problem: whether that is being a member of the LGBT community, a POC, of a certain religion, or a woman travelling alone. So, it is important to remember that whereas some people are able to look at a world map and see boundless opportunity, others look at it and, through fear of this very real increased danger, are forced to block entire areas of it off to themselves.
One of the main reasons these articles really get my goat is because usually the authors are part of the privileged few who are making assumptions for the masses, without thinking for a moment that perhaps their situation is different. It makes the people who are struggling in their everyday lives feel like, surely, they must be doing something wrong because according to these debtless college-grads, anyone can travel- right? No, unfortunately not; even in 2017, long-term travel still belongs to a small minority, and claiming otherwise contributes to a society that blames the single mothers for being so tired, the minimum wage worker for having no time, and ultimately, the poor for being so poor.