Dear Travel Bloggers: Please Stop Saying ‘Anyone Can Travel’

Travel Is Not For Everyone

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:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZk1WHJ_fwo

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.

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Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park

Walking through Hiroshima is strange to say the least. In many ways, it is a city just like any other in Japan: its finger on the pulse of the modern and new, with trams ringing through the streets and children in their baseball kits heading to a local game. But unlike other Japanese cities, it is impossible to escape the cold shadow of its history. Every building is relatively modern and the roads are a thought-out grid system, a reminder of how little of Hiroshima was left standing after the A-Bomb was dropped on an August morning in 1945, and how much needed rebuilding.

The use of the atomic bomb is a controversial subject even today, with many considering it a war crime, and others arguing that by ending the war in the Pacific, it ultimately saved lives. The museum doesn’t go near this debate, and avoids getting into any of the politics of the war itself. It simply presents you with the facts.

The museum is split into sections: personal accounts, damage done to the buildings, the development of the bomb itself and the physical effects of radiation. There are some grizzly and truly sorrowful artefacts on display, including singed and shredded school uniforms, charred lunch boxes, watches stopped at the exact moment the bomb fell, and even the burnt skin of a child kept as a keepsake by a grieving mother.

After viewing the exhibition it is difficult to take much more in. Across the bridge from the museum stands the ‘Atomic Bomb Dome’, one of the only buildings that withstood the blast and remains untouched today. It was so close to the hypo-centre that everyone inside was incinerated, but because the blast came from almost directly above, the building’s walls were able to withstand the downward pressure and did not collapse. There are still signs of the immense heat given off by the bomb, as you can see metal girders that have been warped out of shape and glass that has melted.

We were really affected by this visit, and felt sadness right through to our bones. However, sat by the Atomic Dome looking over the river that runs past, you can’t help but feel faintly hopeful. Many thought that because of the radiation, nothing would ever grow in Hiroshima again. But the museum, the Dome, the city itself is overflowing with plants and flowers and trees. It has built itself up from rubble and despair to the vibrant city that stands today. As bittersweet as it may feel and especially in our current world where fear can often seem to trump hope, it is important to remember that cities can be rebuilt, people can thrive and flowers will grow again.