Stop pretending everyone can travel

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Let’s keep it all the way real: there are circumstances, many of a systemic socio-economic or political nature, that keep some people at home while others hopscotch the globe.

By now, you probably know that I detest travel snobbery with every fibre of my being. However, I wanted to discuss something else that raises my ire: the persistent belief in the travel community that absolutely EVERYONE can travel– and if they can’t, it’s because they’re not trying hard enough or don’t want it badly enough. Blech.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “what the heck is she going on about? Doesn’t she run a travel blog?”  And ’tis true: as a travel writer and junkie, I am a huge advocate for exploring this big, beautiful earth, and sell the whole “living the travel dream” thing both on my blog and social media channels. I mean, I WANT and ENCOURAGE everyone to travel, but realize that there are many situations that preclude people from doing so.  This is why the pervasive attitude in some circles that we’re all on equal playing fields in terms of travel access and opportunities annoys me greatly.

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In Bolivia

Let’s keep it all the way real: there are circumstances, many of a systemic socio-economic or political nature, that keep some people at home while others hopscotch the globe. Travel is not cheap or easy for everyone, though a lot of mainstream travel media, particularly travel blogs, will tell you that all you need to do to be able to travel is change your “mindset”.

However, I find these sorts of posts ridiculously obtuse, off-base, and dripping with privilege. The truth is, those of us who travel extensively are blessed by life circumstances, not just a can-do attitude or “positive mindset”.  So when some of us proclaim how easy it is to traverse the world (and then go on to admonish those who don’t do the same because they “aren’t trying hard enough”), we neglect to realize that our wandering is more due to luck than hard work and desire.

For even if you weren’t born in the proverbial spoon in your mouth, you might be lucky enough to hold a passport from a powerful “first-world” country that allows you to travel foot loose and visa free to the vast majority of the world’s treasures (my Canadian passport gives me visa free entry into 174 countries; were I to get my Jamaican one that number would decrease to 77). Or you might be lucky enough to be living in a country whose stable economy and lofty currency allows you the external purchasing power necessary to globetrot without making a huge dent in your savings.

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Another shot from Bolivia

Travel privilege might also come in the form of the two parent, double-income household that helped you to get through university (heck, going to uni is a privilege in and of itself!) without taking on a hefty student loan. I mean, how easy is it to quit your job to travel the world when the Bank of Mom and Dad foot the lion’s share of your tuition bill years prior? And even if you got through school without the assistance of your parents, think of how lucky you are to not have had to assist them (or your siblings) financially– this is a sad reality for many.  The savings from your part-time campus job would have dwindled pretty quickly had you had to help them make their rent or pay for repairs on their car, dont you think?

While we’re on the topic, let’s talk about the ability to save money in the first place. Even with a decently paying gig, an increase in one’s cost of living may make snapping up that $400 USD glitch fare to Milan on a whim wholly impossible.

Health is another aspect of the equation that is often ignored. It goes without saying that able-bodied people who are free of illness have the world at their feet.  But what if you have reduced mobility or are afflicted by disease?  Hopping on a plane to visit parts unknown is no longer so easy, is it?

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Basta. I don’t want to belabour the point too excessively, but I do want to illustrate a few of the many factors that keep people from seeing the world.  After all, it’s not as easy as foregoing your favourite cuppa at Starbucks or clamping your eyes shut as you repeat the mantra “Yes, I can travel too”.  This “common sense” advice simply does not work when you don’t have the money or physical mobility to get the heck out of dodge; it’s even more useless when you can’t get the time off work or are unable to find a sitter for your children.

So I repeat: not everyone can travel.  Despite assertions to the contrary, it’s not something everybody can achieve, even if they work really hard to make it happen; even with a will the size of Russia, there is no way.  Let’s stop pretending it’s so easy and instead acknowledge how lucky some of us are to fill our passports with stamps, relatively unencumbered by the burdens of life and circumstance.

What are your thoughts on the matter?

160 Comments

  • Robin says:

    I totally agree. I hate travel snobbery myself and the fact of the matter is everyone CAN’T afford to travel. And some people don’t prioritize travel and you know what -that’s okay! We’re all different and it doesn’t make us better or worse than anyone else.

    On the topic of saving money for travel, it reminds me all the articles about how people saved money to buy their house or travel the world, and it often starts with “I moved back in with my parents” (which a lot of people cannot do) or “my partner and I cut our expenses” (well there’s a major privilege right there!).

    • Eve says:

      Whilst I agree, I have been guilty of uttering the words, “Everyone can travel!” However, I think that there is the concept of the ‘Universal Everyone’ and the ‘Immediate Everyone.’ What I mean by this, is that in the circumstance where I, and most of my traveling peers, use those words – we are referring to the ‘immediate everyone’ – meaning literally everyone that we know in our community who say that they ‘Can’t Travel’ are actually not checking their own privelage – it’s not us neglecting to check ours. Most people I know who have told me that they can’t travel are white, young, able bodied Australians with no student debt, or any debt, childless, students or with a full-time job (Australia’s minimum wage is around $17 an hour, but the average wage of all of my peers in retail, hospitality, or admin is $23 per hour – and the average salary of my friends with full-time careers is $65,000 a year).Now, when I am trying to make my point, I tell them that every single year on my student holidays at university, I managed to travel for 3 or more months with savings from a job where I was earning $18-22 a week, working only 15 hours a week. My rent was $225 per week. I drive and maintain a car. I love a healthy lifestyle and eat organic produce. I even traveled when I had $8000 credit card debt. The unemployment rate in Australia is 5% meaning that there is ALWAYS another job. You are not your debt. You are not your job. I find it more offensive to hear these people say they can’t travel then it is for me to hear travelers say that they can travel. Most people who say that ‘everyone can travel’ are meaning that everyone privelaged has little or no excuse not to travel, and they are trying to prove a point or inspire. In the case of my friends, all they would need to do is to not spend their money on alcohol, expensive dinners and expensive clothes, movie tickets etc. in order to be able to save to travel. What they mean when they say that they can’t travel is, they can’t save $2000 – $5000 (which the latter has been more than enough for me to travel with for 6 months).

    • marie says:

      i feel like you were saying these straight to my face but that every word has given me so much comfort… that feeling when you are in the midst of a wishful thinking and someone just hold your hands and say… “it’s okay to dream big but here’s the thing…” and then you start making deep sighs 🙂 because of the sad fact that… you cannot be one of these lucky travellettes!

      You have the real sense, indeed!

    • Sage bailey says:

      If there was a dislike button. I would press it. You’re argument is predicated on a series of one sided views. It’s not dissimilar to me arguing : “stop posting on the Internet. Because not everyone can do it and by doing so you make those who are not privileged enough to own a computer, have a high speed connection, learned how to blog and took the time do so might be upset.”
      Having a computer is a privilege. Internet access is a privilege. Drinking water is a privilege. The list goes on… My point is that those who decide to travel are making a positive choice in their life and shouldn’t be chastised. There are far too many people in modern society who simply “work, pay bills and die” and there is so much more to life. The euphemism of a hamster in a wheel comes to mind. The brave ones who get out of the office and take extended time off to broaden horizons deserve some credit. I travel often, I work and save and travel often years at a time. It’s one of the best things I’ve done in my life. More people should try if they can and want Just like more people should blog if they can and want. And neither should be meant to feel bad about doing so

      • Josh B. says:

        I think you missed the point, Sage. Blogs and travel writing are great windows to the world both for people WITH the means to travel, and for those without. Oneika is saying that we should think twice about a reader’s circumstances before essentially accusing them of being lazy or reluctant to travel with that line of thinking: “what are you waiting for? Go live your unlived life – quit your job, pack a backpack and see the globe!” Some people are (if even temporarily) truly stuck.

        So it’s still great for travel writers to write about their travels – whether you’re booking your next trip, comparing notes, or just window shopping, if you’re here, you want to read about it (and see the great photos). But as a writer, as in life, as in travel, it’s best not to assume.

      • Kyla says:

        I think where she is getting at is that some people do not have the privilege to hop off the hamster wheel. If you have a sick mother at home and have to support your younger siblings, hopping off the hamster wheel and going to broaden your horizons would mean not being able to support your family. Travel is awesome, and if you have the means and the ability to hop on a plane with your passport than do it. but don’t be pretentious about it like EVERYONE can travel if they “just believe”.

    • Lili says:

      I dont think I’ll ever travel in my life to somewhere outside the UK. We can barely afford to go on a short trip for three days at a budget hotel once a year let alone anything else. I didn’t know there was an element of snobbery to the travel community but at the same time the “everyone can travel” line is beneficial when it doesn’t hide behind it the assumption that if you aren’t doing something you’re not trying hard enough. My entire being right now is thinking it hasn’t tried hard enough after I’ve failed being healthy enough to go to uni for a second year and need to drop out of suspend, can’t breakthrough my health complaints to help my family when I really want to take any pressures off my father in a house with so many disabled people that just about get by from year to year. Don’t get me wrong we definitely have it better than a lot of people and I don’t say this story to feel sorry for myself, this is my reality right now. I’m trying to find what I an do within my limits to help the people I love and travelling isn’t gonna be one of them. And it shouldn’t be. Not everyone needs or wants to travel, my biggest joy in life as a child was being sat on a bus or train going somewhere with my family. We went to visit my aunt a lot, we went on little day trips via public transport (we don’t own a car) to places around my area. Appreciating the places around you is another way to find fulfilment in your environment I think. And it’s definitely travelling, just maybe not as glamorous as some would like. And I can live without that, the beauty that is in your environment only really shines once you immerce yourself in it, if you can. A beautiful wood, that area you remember wandering around as a small child, that low key restaurant you had your first “fancy” pasta dish in. Plenty of adventures to be had in every area of life, if you can and if you want it. But, thanks for this post. I’m sure there are a lot of people killing themselves with the “I’m just not trying hard enough” mentality in a lot of aspects of their lives, it eats at you. And it hurts so badly to think you’re doing a lesser job of something, that maybe you’re lazy or more incomplete or incompetent than you think. That doesn’t breed the joy someone needs to go forward, that breeds insecurity and anxiety and every time you think it while you are trying the best you can it just….it makes it seem impossible to live. Like you aren’t trying hard enough to live in this world so why even bother? So, thank you. Thank you so much.

  • Kathi says:

    I definitely agree! Writing for a big travel publication I am guilty of the ‘everyone can travel’-saying as well every now and then; and obviously I’m not always entirely comfortable with it. We all travel to these sometimes developing countries, see the hardship of some locals making a living, and then we write an inspiring post about how anybody can follow our footsteps. How many people have I encountered who earned less in a year than my flights to their country cost me?

    On the other hand, ours and similar publications also have a certain kind of readership, and a lot of readers are actually well able, but too scared or worried to actually travel… I guess it’s about keeping the balance in terms of content in general and appreciating every now and then how incredibly lucky we are to being able to travel the world!

    Great article – really worth a share!

  • Jennex says:

    Oh I love this! While I try not to be a travel snob I definitely think it slips out every now and then. I don’t come from a silver spoon (or even plastic spoon) background and I think I get defensive – when people think I do- because I travel. So reminding folks that sometimes travel is about making different choices is something I’ve definitely done. But you’re right! Travel is a privilege that not everyone has access to – whether it’s because of money, citizenship or health. Also, as I get older I think even the desire to travel, have new experiences, and the willingness to be lost and down right scared in an unfamiliar place is also a privilege.

    • Joy says:

      I completely agree with this comment. As someone who supported myself through university and literally has thousands in student debt it bothers me that some people who see how extensively I travel think that I was born with a spoon in my mouth. I also travel as a backpacker and live waaay cheaper when I travel than in my regular life. Nonetheless, there are other ways that my being able to travel demonstrates privilege that I tend to overlook.

  • Amy says:

    Yes, yes, yes! I am so happy to read this post. I have seen many, many posts lately about how “everyone” can afford to travel and truthfully, they make me uncomfortable. Sure, if you are privileged enough to have items in your life you can cut back on–such as trips to Starbucks, Target, etc–then perhaps you can fit travel more easily into your life than you might think. But if you are that privileged, then you are certainly not a part of the majority.

    I also can’t help but sometimes get annoyed when travelers defend themselves against the haters and say that they aren’t trust fund babies, they work really hard, and that they aren’t rich. Perhaps their parents aren’t paying for their travels, and I’m sure they do work really hard (I know I do!!) but that doesn’t mean they didn’t stay with their parents to save up, or have a place to crash when they need a break from spending money on travel, or like you mentioned, have family to help them get educated, etc.

    I feel so, so privileged to travel, and I want to inspire others to do so too. But I know that I would not be here without living in my parents’ basement through college, or without having healthy family members that don’t need my income, or without the emotional support of my loved ones. Perhaps I sound a little self-righteous, but I think that many in the traveling community need to recognize their privilege to just be ABLE to travel! It is not a right, that’s for sure!!
    Amy recently posted..Five Day Trips from PragueMy Profile

  • Sarah says:

    Agreed, not everyone can travel as easily or at all. I’m sure the writers of these articles are very well aware of that but you know… clickbait…
    That and the fact that most people reading travel articles/blogs are probably part of that group that could be able to travel if they wanted to. I can assure you my cousins in DRC, who absolutely don’t have the opportunity to travel, are not reading travel blogs. I admire the fact that you are pointing out the “issue”. Just like you, I am a travel junky looking to encourage people to explore beyond their worlds but the whole ‘travel is for everyone’ claims by privileged people annoys me. Never thought to formulate an answer though! Sharing this!
    Sarah recently posted..Where to Travel in Iran – our two week itineraryMy Profile

  • Jaistx says:

    Yes, Indeed. Definitely worth a blog post especially now where it seems like every other blog post, Instagram account, or Facebook post is tooting the horn very loudly about how people should just stop spending money on bags and buy tickets instead. Besides the privilege of having a job that allows one to save and take time off, too many times all this drop everything and travel talk forgets that there is more than just buying a ticket. So after you buy that glitch fare to wherever, where are you sleeping, what are you eating, how are you getting around and what are you seeing? I wish that instead of vaguely stating that we can all travel (which by the way not everyone desires and that’s okay too but that’s another topic entirely), how about being about how you saved, that job that bankrolls half of your trips, using your credit cards for miles, friends that let you stay over, buddy passes, and such. I state this all as someone who has absolutely been one of those “you can travel if you want to” people. But I’ve opened my eyes a little wider and realized that nope, it’s not as simple as no longer buying the latest iPhone or pair of shoes, it’s way more than a cheap flight and that’s okay, just be real about it.

  • Lynn Emery says:

    So much fresh air from this post!!! Thank you. And the snobbery??? I can’t.even.with.those.folks.

    • Erica Graham says:

      Those who want to travel should travel. Those who don’t want to travel, don’t travel. Period. But saying you ‘can’t’ do anything is completely untrue because historically people from all different socio-economical statuses and backgrounds have found a way to do the things that they want to do through ambition and hard work. Saying you ‘can’t’ do anything is a fucking cop-out.

      • Blitz says:

        Kinda feel you’ve missed the point of this post. So you’re saying that someone who requires wheelchair access, 24 hour care and is also struggling to meet bills is just not trying enough? Or someone who is currently supporting a number of people with money/time/care should just be fine heading off on a holiday and leaving those behind to implode/suffer? Or those refugees in Turkey, Palestine or the Christmas islands just don’t *want* it enough? There are plenty of people who are wanting to visit the US on a family holiday who have worked hard and saved up, but are being denied entry due to their birthplace/religion. How do you suggest they try harder?

      • Glenio says:

        Well said Erica, I think the post has a minimum of truth! Financial and economical reality are an issue, of course, the passport can help either, but it doesnt mean that everyone can not travel, go 50 km from your home town to the mountains or to the beach can still be a very nice a trip. 77 countries also is still a big range of places to visit, if someone really wants to travel they will find a way. I think the post is more about getting attention against those others who are trying to inspire people to find their way to travel. Sorry I said!!!

      • James says:

        And what do you do with your children? Or the job that won’t hire you back if you leave for two weeks? Or the apartment you and your children lose when you can’t pay the rent?

      • Lina says:

        Wow, how dimwitted you are to fucking say that just bc some poor people travel it means all poor people magically should be able. This isnt about ambition and saying people are giving up~. Its about money and feasibility.You think someone who travels would realize not everyone is as lucky as a first world snob such as yourself?

        You think people who want to travel but dont cause they cant afford it is just making excuses?

        And btw, im an immigrant from a developing country.

      • Keisha Lee says:

        Agreed!!!!!!!!!!!! You make time for what you want to do in life! Traveling doesn’t have to involve crossing borders.

      • Amy says:

        Shut up you privileged little shit

  • Hope says:

    My father says: “Who dare push against a sharp point lest they bleed”.
    Your post is just that- a sharp point. Let’s inspire ALL to travel but never dangle our privileges in the faces of those who are in less fortunate circumstances. Only we ourselves know the intent of all the photos we post. Thank you for this.

  • gsutiger says:

    Your hitting us hard Oneika – great job!

  • Michael Renee Daniels says:

    Absolutely! I am a single mom with a two year old. Before my sweetness arrived I was all over the place. My last hurrah was a two-week stay in Paris. Oo, la, la….. Now that I have him it is much more difficult to plan lengthy trips or make the logistics work. This year will be our first trip together. We starting with a beach trip to St. Augustine, FL. So excited to show him how wonderful travel can be. As he gets older I plan to wander as I wonder more, but it will certainly come with some new challenges. I am shooting for Morocco in 2018. By then I should be back to getting regular sleep. My goal is to create a travel blog for travelistas and their little travel bugs.

  • I totally agree! So many people have costs or obligations that prevent them from travelling long term or even at all. Plus many simply just don’t want to and that’s ok too! Yet some people who travel think it’s ok to look down on them or tell them they should be living life differently. People who tell others to travel more are no better than those who are telling me to settle down and get a real job!

  • Erica Graham says:

    I completely disagree with this post. Surely there are situations where one would not be able to travel (having children, taking care of a sick parent, disability), and those for me are completely valid. However, the fact of the matter is that anybody without these types of dire circumstances CAN travel, they just choose not to. I have been solo travelling internationally since I was 16, and I did not do so on my parents dime. I worked my ass off, put myself through school working 2 jobs, and what I didn’t spend on rent, food, and school, I saved. There was no privilege, nobody gave me that money, I worked for it. It’s almost insulting to me when people say that they are too poor to travel, because there are hundred ways to support yourself WHILE travelling. I worked abroad for the last 5 years, and it was hard as hell, but I was able to survive on an extremely small paycheck and still see the world. Some people CHOOSE not to travel because it is not the kind of lifestyle they want to endure (and that’s fine), but making a conscious decision not to do something and saying something is impossible are two very different things. By limiting yourself ‘I can’t’ you are selling yourself short, and I don’t agree with it at all.

    • MLJ says:

      And you, Ms. Graham, are exactly about whom she is writing.

      • Tony LEE says:

        Not at all. MJL Erica is merely stating an obvious fact that could have been emphasized by the writer to good effect, that the vast majority of people really don’t want to travel. Of course the real reason underlying that assertion is probably that they can’t afford to travel, or are afraid to travel, or whatever, but why is choosing not to travel an invalid position to take. Probably a good thing too.

    • Kay says:

      100 ways to support yourself while traveling? Sorry, I am not couch surfing or sleeping in tents. I like nice living while I travel. You can have health and money but no time to travel. You can work hard but still not be bale to afford to travel cash for years.

    • Solomon says:

      Perhaps your travel game is on point, but your comprehension skills clearly are not. Reading, dear Erica, is fundamental.

    • andrew says:

      I agree with you in disagreeing with this post. I worked part time as a barista in Summit county where Breckenridge ski resort is…one of the most expensive places to live in the US…and just took a 2 month vacation to Hawaii. My parents haven’t given me a dime in 13 yrs because I’m 28 and got a job at 15. It’s priorities. Some people just like to complain and think the system is against them

    • Erica says:

      I agree with Erica 100%. This article is way off. This post is just allowing readers to feel okay with being just “okay” in life. You can tell from the comments.

      Yes, everyone can travel. Maybe not to every country in the world, maybe not continuously for years on end, but they can travel (at least a little). But as you say Oneika, a Jamaican passport can get you into 77 countries for free. 77! Curb Free with Cory Lee is a blog about traveling the world in a wheelchair. People travel with debilitating diseases and figure out how to be okay. People in developing countries have it much, much, much harder, but even lots of them figure out how to get away via sponsored trips, family help, or jobs in other countries.

      I think what people forget is that everything is a choice in life. I lived abroad for 5 years in 5 different countries and for less than $10,000 per year! Being from the northeast in the USA, it would be extremely hard to live on a budget like that at home. I took on crazy waitressing shifts, volunteer opportunities, didn’t have a cell phone (not even a dumb one – for a while), and worked overseas to be able to stay that long. I lived places so I didn’t have to pay for plane tickets every 2 weeks, just every year. I got creative, did my research, and I made it work with what I had.

      Yes, I’m aware that lots of things about me scream privilege, but if you look at the people I grew up with (similar to me in many ways) they are the ones telling me that they’re too poor to travel. People who I’ve lived in the same town with, that don’t have family to support, that were college educated, that have jobs, that don’t get government assistance, that have cell phones, cable, cars, and new clothes each season. Those are the people that say I’m so “lucky” because I get to travel so much. They are the ones wondering where I get the funds to travel. They are the ones who say, “I could never do what you do, but I wish I could.”

      Lots of times (not all, but lots), people that say they “can’t travel” are people who just won’t take steps on make sacrifices to travel. Obviously it’s not their priority (or one of their priorities). If it’s not your priority, okay. Leave it alone. Don’t follow travel bloggers whose aim it is to inspire you to get up and explore the world for yourself. But if traveling is something you want to do, make it happen. Put aside $10 a week, Google overseas job opportunities, go to a travel meetup, ask your job to move you abroad, or simply road trip anywhere for a weekend. Just do something!

      P.S. Travel snobbery is when you say things like “Sorry, I am not couch surfing or sleeping in tents. I like nice living while I travel.”

      • Have you ever asked the woman who does your laundry or cleans your room in your accommodation in cheap Indonesia (or Guatemala, Kenya, Egypt = any underdeveloped country) if they have the means to travel any further than to the market in the next town?
        If they can afford the school fees and books for their children?
        If they ever have the chance to save a few Rupiah?

        Bloody western arrogance!
        Juergen | dare2go.com recently posted..Street Art from Buenos Aires and Nearby TownsMy Profile

        • Britt says:

          Sometimes people have trouble realizing that their life experience isn’t the same as others.

        • Conswalia says:

          Juergen, great questions, yet simple questions that many of us can quickly answer after discovering the circumstances of many people living in developing countries. Sadly, too many western travelers (I’m US American), as this post by Oneika has revealed, will never ask those questions to such people. If they do, they lack compassion and enough insight to see beyond their personal circumstances. Ignorance really is bliss.

      • Caitlin says:

        I do not mean to diminish the sacrifices you have gone through to make sure you lived your dream of living, but please don’t use your experience to belittle the hardship that people go through to to make even the dream of traveling a reality. My partner is from Eritrea and he’s worked extremely hard to get a PhD in a competitive field in the US and is currently working at a job that pays over $100K. Because of his passport, he can’t go to any country without the fear of him being sent back to Eritrea (which would be a sentence – Eritrea is seen as the “North Korea of Africa”). He supports his family members that all currently live in refugee camps that he’s even lucky when he can have $500 to himself. So yes, he has worked hard and has made numerous sacrifices (almost got killed leaving Eritrea) but reducing traveling to “choice and hard work” is purely arrogant and very narrow minded. For some, the choice to travel involves potentially sacrificing your life and deciding not to have your family get the same opportunity that you’ve had. The fact that you can save on a waitressing job is privilege. So yes, check that damn privilege and don’t act like the world is a just and fair place whereby all becomes true with hard work and choice.

        • Conswalia says:

          Thank you Caitlin for this response. I am a US American and understand clearly that just by being born in this country has given me many privileges, including travel. Thank you for putting it in perspective for some people who really just don’t get it and who are blind to those far less fortunate. I’m sure after reading your comment, some still won’t get it.

    • Katrina says:

      Please explain how a worker in a rag factory in Bangladesh or a grocery store clerk in rural Kenya can afford to travel abroad? Because most people in the world are in those boats, not a cushy first world country where we can work 2 jobs to save up for travel instead of working several jobs to afford to feed their families.

    • James says:

      You don’t realize that there are particular segments of the population for whom having children, taking care of parents and disabilities are not “dire circumstances” but fairly common, do you?

    • Lina says:

      Youre from a first world country on a computer with internet access. Please stop acting like just because youve had a “tough” life that means other people in such shittier situations dont and are simply people with a cant attitude.. Dear god, the fact that there are dumb westerners who travel the world who think this way is disturbing. Traveling is a LUXURY. An expensive one. Understand? Its not going to school, getting an education or getting healthcare. You were able to travel because you had the means to,-and you “wanted” to. Just because you had to work for it vs some rich kid on vacation doesnt make you better. Emphasis on want, not need. There are people who cant even get water, something they need.

      How about instead of belittling poor folks you fucking learn about them. Or maybe you’d rather post a selfie next to a poor brown kid in a different country and talk about how #blessed you are to see how others live!

    • Jerusha says:

      Um, I want to travel. I love to travel, even. I’ve been to Germany, France, England, all through the US, and the BVI. I adore the lifestyle, the sights, everything about hopping on a plane and then see what’s beyond the airport tarmac on the other side.

      I also was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis exactly a year ago today and I was found to have early colon cancer (I’ve since made a full recovery from that, thank God)… Ignoring that adds a wrinkle to travel, which isn’t insurmountable, but still a consideration… In one year I piled up a total of $153,784.63 of medical bills. Yup, you read that right. That’s the total that my really decent insurance did not pick up (it would have been over $275k otherwise) and I am 100% on the hook for.

      Jumping on a plane on a whim and flying across the globe is not exactly realistic when I’m paying more every month on medical bills than I do on rent. It has nothing to do with desire, it has to do with real life and how it has a funny way of throwing up hurdles of “needs” that need to be attended to before you dive into the “wants.”

      So yes, despite my two jobs and my husband’s two jobs and our combined middle-class income (I dare say even flirting with upper middle class income), we are “too poor” to travel. One of my jobs and one of his jobs goes to cover a $1,300 monthly medical bill and we are frantically saving because of the certain knowledge that even if everything goes awesome, I will have another $160k in unpaid medical bills I pile up again this year. And the year after that. And the year after that.

      Kinda puts a big dent in things.

      This idea of “I can afford it because I scrape” translating to “everybody can afford it if they just try” makes me beyond nuts. And frankly, not dying from cancer kind of edged out wanting to see the world in terms of financial prioritization.

      • Jerusha says:

        I guess my point was that one year, we were flying all over the US, still visiting Walt Disney World 3 times a year with family, and well on our way to going to Asia for the first time, and then the next year, we had $153k in debt we totally, totally didn’t plan for. We are all one illness, one bad doctor’s appointment, one loss of career, one unexpected disaster away from having our plans totally change.

        And I’ll be honest, from a pure writing standpoint, the best authors and travel blogs have *always* been the ones who have the attitude “I know not everybody can travel, so let me show you the world” vs “everybody can travel and if you’re not, you’re too lazy/have wrong priorities/not determined.” Invite us into your world, don’t shame us for not being being a part of it.
        Jerusha recently posted..‘Ohana Bread Pudding a la Mode with Banana-Caramel Sauce – ‘OhanaMy Profile

        • Amber says:

          And it affects where you can go and how you can get there. My mother has long wanted to travel and is in great health and even has some money. But she uses a wheelchair. Not even a large electric one, a lightweight manual chair. And that has cut her options drastically, even within the US let alone anywhere else.

          When you can easily transfer between modes of transport and count on being able to get into your hotel or hostel, that is privilege. When you can do the sorts of work people suggest for those trying to make money as they go, thatis privilege. When you can risk local foods because you aren’t barred by dietary restrictions due to allergies or you aren’t dependant on a drug or medical equipment you cannot risk not having (Mom fears airlines because they frequently break wheelchairs), that is privilege.

          Many if not most of us are one crisis away from not having that privilege. And many of us are past the crisis but still lost the privilege, even if we are fully functional otherwise.

      • Dawn Kellley says:

        Exactly, you have pointed out the most important traveling conflict. Sometimes it’s not about how much money you make, but how much money you actually have to spare. So if you’re making enough for a middle class living, you can’t just say screw certain bills if something major happens that is using every penny you bring in. So it’s not just ‘I’m poor and can’t travel’, it’s ‘my basic survival bills are not allowing for extra’ and once you have things like a mortgage, utilities in your home, home insurance, a car note, you can’t just not pay it the next day….well you can, but it has long term consequences that most people aren’t going to risk just to pay for a plane ticket for a whim trip to another country.

        Also, traveling is more than just the plane/bus ticket…it’s how to get to a place legally and how to live once you get there…and you can’t just work anywhere in another country, there’s rules about coming into a country as a forigner and getting a job if it isn’t prearranged through existing employment and you don’t speak the language….and you have to know those rules and standards if that’s your plan.

        For years I’ve been trying to put away 5$ a week every week. Before I hit $50, my bills always exceed what I have and possibly for food or gas…I am super low income, I have little to lose in picking up and leaving, except my car which has, at least, opened up work in places I couldn’t work without it. But often I have to pull from a savings that hasn’t even reached $100 yet….and I’m from a first world country where I am self supporting with three jobs and was even working while I was briefly homeless. My jobs son’ tallow a big enough break I can even drive too far for a day or two. I have always wanted to travel, but at 36 have never managed even enough to just buy a plane ticket and go somewhere…anywhere on a plane and maybe rough it for a day….and I worked in an airport for six years watching other people get on planes (it was a food service job) and dreamed of being the one holding a ticket and I have not been able to accomplish it, despite all my efforts. Not real travel to far away places, not even the other coast of my own country.

        I look for jobs that will get me into other countries…..and only found people looking to hire people already there. I even just looked for work out of state and the most success I’ve had is working in a few neighboring states. If I got a job offer halfway across the world and could afford the ticket, I’d jump on a plane in a second and go…but everything depends on what kind of work you already qualify for or if you can afford to just get there and just look for work when you get there. Having all the cards align so that your life allows you to go is a privilege and it doesn’t mean you are/aren’t poor.

        Travel privelege is about if you actually have extras to cut/adjust (like I can’t not have a phone, it’s required tfor me to work). If you have a way to make work a part of traveling, awesome, not every job feild will allow that. It depends on if you have time to not work to travel of you can’t travel as work. There’s a lot of factors that can make it workable and I’m still trying to create a situation where it’s even mildly possible and it’s not as easy as cutting Starbucks……36…. Have wanted to get on a plane since I was a little girl

  • dee says:

    Amen Oneika!

    I disagree with Erica above. First just like anything else, there’s personal preference and the desire that drove you to work two jobs and save your money to travel and that’s okay, I’m probably more like you. However, others have to support families with any extra money, or would rather shop or do other things with their money , and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean they can’t travel.

    On your other point, I travel and it takes a lot of EFFORT and extra cost to do so because I’m from an African country and I need a visa to 90% of the countries in this world. Even with the extra effort, It can be tiring, but I’m passionate about travelling so I do the extra work, but I would totally understand if someone gave up. For example, I applied for a Business visa to India (and I work for a multinational company and have all my ish together) since NOVEMBER but India requires ‘special processing’ and so I don’t have my passport back and have had to skip out on two trips since they’ve held on to my passport for 4 months (one of which was booked and flights were paid for). So yeah, if someone from my country chooses to forego India, then I would not blame them.

    Similarly, many people from many countries cannot just hop to Australia to travel and plan on working. The ability to work in these countries is a luxury based on your passport that many do not have.

    • Erica Graham says:

      I never said it wasn’t okay that they chose not to travel. What I said was “some people choose not to travel because it is not the kind of lifestyle they want to endure (and that’s fine).” I also said that there are circumstances in which people would not be able to travel (having children, taking care of a sick parent, disability). Being from a certain country and not having a visa falls under the category or not being able to travel. I am speaking about all the many Americans (who have no ties or responsibilities like the ones I previously stated) who are coming out and saying they are ‘too poor to travel’, and i’m sorry, but I think it’s bullshit. You are the perfect example of somebody who has overcome circumstances to live your life the way that you want to live it, through hard work and ambition. I commend that. Some people choose not to, and I commend that just as much. We should never shame people who choose a different lifestyle than our own.

      • Rivvy D. says:

        Erica, there are more than 40 million people in the US who are at or below the poverty line. That means they are, best case scenario, just barely managing to make ends meet.

        If someone is in a life circumstance where they can barely afford to eat, they’re not going to have the funds to travel.

        If you step out of your life perspective and listen to people who have a different background than you, chances are you will learn a lot about the world.

      • Sam says:

        The fact that you’re able to “choose” a lifestyle is all the evidence that is needed to show that your privileged self doesn’t understand what it’s like to be in the shoes of a person that isn’t ABLE to “choose” to live that lifestyle. It’s like Oneika’s post went in one eye and out the other with you.

      • James says:

        Thank you Erica for proving the myth that travel broadens your mind and teaches you empathy is untrue. I always hated weekend travels when I lived abroad in SE Asia because they came, felt proud of themselves and never bothered to look around and learn anything. I don’t travel a lot for kicks because I find it wasteful. You don’t get to know a place in a week or even a month. You can have fun and take photos but it kills me that so many have turned it into a necessity for being a whole person. It’s not. You can go all over and learn jack shit. You can work hard to travel and never truly see yourself for how lucky you are. Maybe you should try something else like community service? Another fun little trippy for your own selfish desire won’t broaden your horizons as much as going down to your local soup kitchen or free clinic, I think.

  • Nicole OzJam says:

    Well said! Your point “my Canadian passport gives me visa free entry into 174 countries; were I to get my Jamaican one that number would decrease to 77” is one that many people either don’t know or choose to overlook. Also there is the issue of priority. As a mother of 4 children, I have been chastised by some people because my children have not had summer vacation abroad or we have not hopped on a plane to Disneyland for the March Break — what kind of mother would deny her children those life-affirming experiences? But some parents, even those who have “good” money, prefer to pay down on their mortgage, or send their children to private school, or sometimes don’t have the kind of jobs that allow for weeks away at the most popular times of year. So travellers, enjoy your travels, and share your pictures and stories with us. I actually enjoy living vicariously through others in a friendly, judgement-free exchange.

  • Chloe says:

    Wonderful post Oneika. Both my husband and I have health conditions that have weakened our immune systems and folks with weak immune systems simply cannot tolerate a lot of the immunizations required for international travel. We have 2 church friends who recently returned from cruises with pneumonia, something that would put both of us in ICU. So although we have the money to travel, our health (one of us also uses a wheelchair and we’ve all heard about how the physically disabled are treated by airlines) precludes us from travelling outside the US. I already know that travel for the working poor would be all but impossible too. If it takes working 2 minimum wage jobs just to pay the rent, car note, insurance, gas, utility bills and groceries, where will the disposable cash come from to put towards lodging and plane tickets? So, yes, this along with the other points you mentioned does point out that being able to travel is a privilege not afforded to everyone.

  • Tonya says:

    Thank you thank you thank you!! As someone with a wanderlust heart as well as someone who has $97,000 of student loans, a car payment, etc. I find myself lying awake many nights wondering why I don’t feel ok just plunging off the cliff and abandoning all my debt to travel. My reality is that when I eventually returned from my travel, it would leave me homeless and in a lot of trouble. But I see all these ‘you just gotta put your mind to it’. I’ve racked my brain thinking about the peace Corp or wwoofing and all other types of travel but none of these options allow me to stop ever paying my loans. And if I stop paying my loans, my parents as the consigners become immediately responsible. So I have to settle into the reality that I can take a big trip here and there but circumstances don’t allow me to just pack up and dip (or I would’ve long ago). I Appreciate your article so much and it alleviated a lot of my guilt as
    To why I can’t just ‘put my mind to it’. Thank you for this sense of validation!!!! 🙂

  • hothead says:

    Thanks for this! I’m super frustrated when well-meaning older folks tell me I have to travel now because I’m young, and when I say I can’t afford to, they tell me, “You just have to get there. Then it’s cheap!”

    …I just have to pay for some expensive-ass plane tickets, take off more time from work than I can afford to, and, oh, because I have some ability limitations, figure out how to carry my luggage around? And I’m a woman, so if I travel alone and “something” happens, what was I thinking?

    I could go on but you obviously get it. Thanks for posting thins!

  • I agree with everything you said. I also detest “travel snobbery”. And there’s another aspect of it that drives me crazy — snobs who criticize where and how people travel. For example, there are those who may travel extensively in the USA (as if there isn’t anything important to see here), but have not had opportunities to go abroad. Travel is a personal thing. Let’s just celebrate it and inspire others to travel whenever and in whatever way they can.
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  • Cypipes says:

    I was too busy establishing a stage acting career to consider travel outside the country when I was young (tho that same career took me all over the US and once to Belgium). Now that I’m retired early with a disability, I travel internationally with my boyfriend, who has been saving miles and money all his life to do this very thing. Traveling disabled is a real challenge – hoteliers will tell you your room is “1 floor up from reception”, then when you get there you find that reception is another floor up from the ground – but worth the extra pain for me. But when I’m traveling, I’m extremely aware that my subsistence wage Arts career would never have afforded me the ability to travel internationally. Choices had to be made and I followed my calling. I’m just extremely lucky that I fell in love with someone who was set up for travel (we just returned from 6 weeks in India).

  • Brenna says:

    Oh HELL YES!!! I am so happy that you wrote this, and I totally agree with what you’ve written. I always think about how lucky I’ve been to even entertain the idea of wanderlust from a young age onwards; this is actually a big topic in the book I’m working on now. Great post, Oneika.
    Brenna recently posted..How Much Does it Really Cost to Visit Bhutan?My Profile

  • Kierra Bussey says:

    I couldn’t agree more. It’s a topic that isn’t often brought up in the travel world. Even I had to realize my privilege, and that wasn’t realized until I traveled to other countries where its citizens weren’t afforded that same luxury. Extremely grateful and forever humble of my travel experiences!

  • Patti K says:

    Thank you for understanding. My husband and I used to travel through New England every chance we got. Now, because he has dementia, travel is very restricted. If we travel more than 2 hours away, he is stressed and exhausted. Staying anywhere overnight is very confusing to him.
    Whenever we watch a TV show that shows people traveling or moving far and wide, he keeps apologizing that we can’t go there. I don’t mind. I just find new places nearby which isn’t hard since we now live in CT and came from PA just 9 years ago. Traveling does not necessarily involve planes and passports.

  • Kim says:

    You hit the nail on the head. It is perfectly fine for people to have different hobbies and interests. Some people just like to show off. There are people who like to spend their money on other luxuries and not travel. Some of us are blessed to be able to travel a bit, help siblings and others and still manage to save something. We are all dealt different hands in life and as we say in Jamaica it is often di neva see come see new to travel people who are slinging alla dis.

  • Thank you for this post! Absolutely agree! With the advent of social media – there is often this alter reality that people buy into. No one talks about privilege or spouse sponsorship.

  • I think it depends on one’s peculiar or particular definition of travel. If travel is simply walking or boarding a bus, train, plane, subway from point A to point B; I dare say that everyone travels. Heck, even my late grandparents traveled once in a while from the village to the capital city of Kenya. My dad and mum did even more; traveling for study and conferences in far away places like the U.S, Canada, Scotland, South Africa etc. For travel bloggers it sometimes becomes tricky explaining how we can afford to travel. Why? Because most people have denied themselves travel for the fixed mindset they have that travel is simply unaffordable. I would think it was unaffordable if each time I traveled I focused on staying in a plush and swanky 7-star hotel as opposed to sleeping in a dorm with roomies, or Couchsurfing/Nightswapping/Airbnb-ing etc..I would also think it was unaffordable if I chose to book a tour package from my point of origin, as opposed to just arriving to the destination and bonding with locals and having them show me their city, I would also think it unaffordable if I chose to fly to some far-away region like Antarctica instead of exploring a city/town in my region. Point is: If you want travel bad enough, you’ll make it happen. Full-time travel may not be for everyone..but its always possible to travel when one hasbreaks or vacation times. Let travel bloggers share with you how they do it. While serious illness or disability can be reason to stay put, having children is no reason to deny them or yourself travel. I’ve traveled with my child many times.
    Caroline Achieng Otieno recently posted..This Nairobi, I call homeMy Profile

    • Melissa says:

      Not everyone gets breaks or vacation time. Many basic jobs in the U.S., at least, give no paid vacation at all. We have millions of people even in the worlds “most powerful” country who survive on service sector jobs that fall into that category.

      In terms of “traveling can just be a weekend trip somewhere close” to paraphrase you, I think that’s true, and that’s more attainable for a bigger # of people. But in the context of the travel-blogging community, the idea is that long-term international travel is possible for EVERYONE.

    • Dawn Kellley says:

      Even considering two days off work could easily disable my financial stability. And when you work multiple jobs, sometimes the days you are not at one job are the days to work the other job…maybe you have no real “weekend”. And that one miracle day you’re off of everything, you might be lucky if you find the energy to get out of bed….cause you haven’t had a day of rest in a few weeks. I think it’s good to acknowledge the very real circumstances that can sometimes get in the way of traveling. Including no real weekend or allowed vacation time from work.

      So maybe one day a person could drive over the state line at least and that’s the most they do and that’s a fair thing to embrace. But to even assume everyone has weekends or vacation time available is untrue and a privileged view of what’s available to ‘everyone’. I enjoy hearing how people can travel and I’m still trying. But even as a mostly able bodied human, it’s challenging to do more than drive across the state line for a day. So seeing ‘stop drinking Starbucks and eating out’ as a travel solution…especially as a formula for affording a plane ticket, can feel like a privileged solution to a more complicated problem.

      Yes, some people could afford things easier if they followed a few tweaks…..and saying “if you have X, Y, Z you can afford to travel, you just need to think differently” at least acknowledges, ‘hey, you who have the ability, don’t complain’ … But don’t assume everyone has the same ability.

  • Tenicka says:

    Brillant piece. Thank you for writing this. You continue to inspire me with such thoughtful work. Don’t stop.

  • veena says:

    Agree, wholeheartedly. I was lucky enough to be born and raised in the US, so my passport allows me to travel freely to most of the countries in the world. At the moment I live in India, the country of my parents’ origin, and many of my friends here do not have the same opportunities. Some were born at home and don’t have birth certificates, making it difficult for them to get passports. Part-time jobs are not as abundant here as they are in the States, where I began baby-sitting and earning my own money when I was 12, so they often cannot afford trips within their own country, let alone abroad. And even if they do have a passport, it is often difficult to get a visa to travel abroad, particularly if they are young, single women, because foreign governments think they are travelling to find a foreign husband so they can settle abroad. I thank my stars every day for the privileges I have been granted, and I, too, get annoyed when travel bloggers go on about how easy it is to quit your job and travel the world. I’m so glad you’ve brought this up, because I think it is an important conversation to have. So thank you xx

  • Tiffany says:

    I was literally left speechless after reading this! Now that I’ve got myself together, I just want to say THANK YOU for this post! You really addressed some important issues and you did so very eloquently might I add.

    There are so many circumstances that prevent people from traveling the world and sometimes those of us who travel frequently fail to realize how incredibly PRIVILEGED and BLESSED we are. I just came back from a 6 week trip backpacking across Europe, but there’s no way I would have been able to afford that had I not moved back in with my parents for a while to save money. And how fortunate am I that my parents even allowed me to move back? And how blessed am I to even have internet to book said tickets? And a USA passport that afforded me the travel?

    I also write about travel and sometimes assume people have the means to travel IF only they would make some adjustments to their lifestyle. But it’s not always that simple and you’ve reminded me just that.
    Tiffany recently posted..Backpacking Europe: How I Traveled To 12 Countries for Less Than $3,200My Profile

  • Tranette says:

    Girl! I’ve had this conversation with folks! When the main directive in your family has been financial solvency, globetrotting is not some shit you even consider before you’re “making good money.” I will be, at 30, acquiring my passport before a driver’s license because we couldn’t afford lessons. I will be the first person to travel extensively outside of the members of my family who served in the U.S. military. It’s real out here.

  • I think luck is a relative term and not an absolute one. We’re all luckier than some people, unluckier than some people and completely equal in terms of life circumstances to other people.

    International travel is objectively easier for people from developed countries when compared to people from developing countries.

    And yes, I firmly believe that all of us Travel Bloggers (even those who come from a developing countries like me) are luckier than (let’s say) Syrian refugees mainly because we had the luck of being born in a country not currently involved in a civil war.

    Thinking in relative terms instead of absolute ones really puts the complete world in perspective.
    Raphael Alexander Zoren recently posted..Istanbul, a visit to the city of Mosques and BazaarsMy Profile

  • Paige says:

    Very thought provoking, loved! I hate to admit it but I can sometimes be that one in the corner screaming “just try just try, please.” I’m just adding, not all who travel, whether extensively or not, are privileged and my case being one. I grew up in a single mother household 4 other siblings and although we struggled she let me dream the “impossible” or what we thought it was at the time. I decided to sell my soul to the U.S. higher education system, which I could have never paid for if it weren’t for the loans that now lay at my feet as a postgraduate. My first time leaving the country was my sophomore year studying abroad in Spain, my mom couldn’t give me a dime, and that was ok this was my dream not hers. I worked as a waitress/bartender, continued to study, sought out extra funding and next thing I knew I was prepping for my life changing experience. As soon as I met other foreigners/program mates I noticed their ease of spending which was baffling to me. I was pinching pennies and looking at them thinking “damn! I would never spend that much on whatever it was they might have been purchasing, that’s at least 2 or 3 plane tickets around Europe!” Incredible people, i’ll add, just privileged and I just couldn’t relate or even pretend like I could keep up with that lifestyle. After graduation the “study abroad high” never subsided and job searching became so discouraging. My next thought “guess I’ll just have to go abroad again.” I did just that, but this time teaching English, of course with a summer of waitressing before but now i’ll have income. After that year ended, without much consideration, I decided to teach again but this time in Asia! As I get ready in the next few months to head to Korea to teach, i’ve mapped out my plans for the next few years. Saving money from Korea so I can go to grad school in Northern Europe afterwards. I like free, i like school, and I like travel! hehe (I still get overly emotional when I think about my loans, wow, just wow what a beautiful gesture and example from those countries providing international students this “hope”) All of this has led me to what i’ve been unknowingly preparing myself for this entire time, the peace corps for service. Don’t get me wrong lots of people simply don’t have the desire to travel and that is fine and dandy. This is for those that have the burning desire to experience how truly amazing the places and people are in this big, but oh so small world. That being said, even though hope might look slim (as it looked for me) inhibiting situations do not mean impossible ends. i’m an outlier,I’m aware, but I know i’m not the only one. peace and love!

  • Dani says:

    I am in the camp of “wanting to travel but cannot afford to.” I am the first person in my immediate family to go to college, and while I have my AA, I was unable to complete my BA program because I ran out of financial aid just a semester and a half short. So, not only do I owe the money for the loans, but if I want to continue my schooling, I have to find a way to pay for the next 1½ semesters…and then hope I can get into a Ph.D. program and get enough assistance for that.
    MAYBE,…if I can manage to do all that, I will be able to travel at some point.

    BUT…there is also the issue of my husband, whom I love very much. Sadly, he has a criminal record from when he was in his 20s .Unfortunately, there are many countries that will not allow someone with a record to even enter their borders. So, while he is a good man, and trying to do the best he can…and we both have a desire to travel (especially if Trump gets elected, here, in the US)…it’s unlikely we will be able to do so.

  • Shannon Wagstaff says:

    My son is disabled, and this has a huge impact on where we can ‘travel’ to – sometimes, just getting him in the car to go somewhere half an hour down the road in an hour long battle. Airports are noisy, bright, humming, crowded places, full of people who will bump into you; full of strange smells and strange people. I would love to be a parent who can say “Let’s just go to Scotland for the weekend!”. But we can’t. Thanks for bringing this up, Oneika! x

  • Tessa says:

    I loved this post – thanks to brenna from this battered suitcase for sharing it so I could find it.
    I’m in the middle- sometimes I’m hindered by my crappy South African passport and worthless South African rands, but then I had parents who paid for university and all my summer job money could go straight to travel, plus I now have a really good professional job which gives me spare cash (just not lots of leave boo).
    My ‘luck’ has allowed me to develop that wanderlust that now drives me past any of the ‘hindering’ travel obstacles to make sure I do travel, but like you so eloquently put, not everyone has that opportunity and it’s kind of mean to just tell them ‘oh if you want it bad enough and skip a daily Starbucks you can get it’
    So on the fact that you work in Hk note- so do I now! Arrange a meet up 🙂

  • Katie says:

    I completely agree. As someone who wants to travel desperately but doesn’t really have the financial means at the moment, I loved this post. I have travelled in the past (when I was lucky enough to be living with my parents and they were helping me pay for things) but haven’t gone many places since moving out on my own. Thank you for posting. 🙂

  • Jamie says:

    I had the privilege to travel quite a bit during undergrad but since then it has been very difficult and I’ve had to do local small trips than international travel. LIFE HAPPENS! We are part of a generation buried in student loans and increased cost of living that doesn’t match wages, not being able to travel is very real. Even for those not wanting to travel, many still have to live at home with their parents or sacrifice one too many simple joys because it’s hard. People who have the ability to even forget that reality are showing just how privileged they are. I applaud those who can but there are others who have responsibilities that others can’t even imagine. For those of you who don’t agree with this article, read it again! She’s not saying that it is impossible but that even dreaming of the opportunity has it’s challenges for some.

  • Melissa says:

    Thank you so much for bringing topics like socioeconomics, income inequality, nationality, disability and privilege into the travel bloggging world, where they’re routinely ignored by the mostly white, mostly middle or upper-middle-class, mostly college-educated bloggers who dominate that scene. The insistence from people whose parents have helped fund their university degree or provided free places to live while they saved up $$ for traveling and who benefit from a number of systemic types of privilege that they alone, through their hard work, are personally responsible for the amazing experiences they’ve had is baffling. The amount of education alone most travel bloggers have should give them more awareness. Constant exposure to the vast inequality that exists around the world should create a much more nuanced understanding of life than the simplistic “hard work will get you to your goals” mantras I see all over the travel blogging world.

    Seeing other cultures changed my life, and I wish that experience was available to everyone. But when people say things like “everyone can travel!!” I think it is often painfully obvious that to those people “everyone” consists of the people they know personally, who generally have equivalent privilege of economic stability, national origin and educational opportunity (among other things) as the writer.

  • alikonahc says:

    What you write is so important! Privilege and travel go hand and hand, and take many forms. I have also witnessed the wanderlust of young men, at the expense of their partners or baby’s mothers. Particularly among communities where teen and early adult pregnancy is common, I find myself a little annoyed by the assumptions that its fine for young men to go off and explore a little because the young women will stay at home. This is deeply embedded into the ways that we understand gender and the kinds of wants and desires we are encouraged to develop — so it is not something that is easily discussed or changed. Also, thank you for your discussion of health. It is not only physical, but also mental health that prevents travel (and enjoyment from it). Yet, those mental health challenges are perhaps more stigmatized and/or overlooked (i.e. “just get over it”). Finally, from an environmental perspective travel, and particularly airplane travel is quite harmful. I see this as tied back into privilege if not only for the fact that those who suffer first from climate change are usually not the same as those who are traveling around the world.

  • Ella says:

    Oneika, I understand where you are coming from and I think it’s important to acknowledge privilege — but I think it shouldn’t stop there.

    You mentioned an article about Nomadic Matt (without referencing a post he did a couple of years later on the subject of privilege: http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/travel-privilege/), but he is also a person who is (1) trying to challenge the status quo and overwhelming rhetoric of travel being inaccessible or just for the rich (another privileged group) and (2) he is actually doing something about it with his non-profit FLYTE, which sponsors underprivileged high school students on international trips as well as teaching people how to travel hack and travel on extremely low budgets to make it more accessible.

    I do think that in the post you reference, he was primarily speaking to people who feel like travel is inaccessible in a financial sense, but of course, it can be taken as an overarching statement for other groups.

    But the truth of the matter is that except for a few extreme situations, most people CAN travel.

    Are the opportunities fair and equal for every person from every country? No. Are the opportunities fair and equal for every person regardless of their mental or physical capabilities? No.

    But just because it’s not equal or fair does not mean it’s not possible! And those of us with privilege should be working to make it MORE possible for those people, rather than simply lamenting that “I’m lucky, that’s how it is — sucks to be you.”

    Maybe what those posts you mentioned failed to do originally was *adequately* acknowledge the struggles that some people must endure and overcome in order to travel. The unfair truth is some people will have to work harder and struggle more to make travel a reality and even then, they may only be able to travel regionally or domestically. Some people have obstacles that are huge and some places will never be open to them to explore. And that definitely needs to be acknowledged, so I understand your passion about this.

    But I feel that those bloggers you mentioned have been unfairly criticized when what they are trying to do is IMPROVE that situation and get people to start thinking about their obstacles in a new way. Instead of saying: “these doors are closed to you,” they are saying: “let’s believe in this possibility! You can make this happen!”

    I think if people stay in the position of thinking travel is just a “luck” thing, then things won’t ever change. It enables them stay in a position of weakness rather than empowering them. People are stronger than they think. Seemingly impossible things happen everyday.

    And if it irks you so much that other travel bloggers are dripping with privilege and insensitivity to others’ needs, then create a movement that helps those people’s needs! Not just a rant. What are you doing with your travel privilege to help build bridges so that more people can experience a fraction of the life you live? You have influence and power. Speaking up about privilege is a first step, but it’s not enough. So if you think the system is unfair, what are YOU doing to help it? The bloggers you criticize already are in their own way — non-prints, dedication to helping others replicate what they do. Maybe not perfectly, but it is something.

    I shall end with this quote by Theordore Roosevelt:

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

  • Absolutely wonderful. Some can’t by circumstance and others by the desire to want to work hard and pay off ownership of a house, loans, etc. I could repeat all the accolades but I won’t. Well done. Thank you for putting my exact thoughts and frustration into more eloquent words.

  • Ella says:

    *not “non-prints” but “non-profits” (damn autocorrect)

  • Elina says:

    You are so right! I’ve thought this way for ages. What makes my blood boil even more is that some people seem to not only think anyone can travel, but that everyone has the RIGHT to travel. I read an article a few months ago by someone like that and I hope that she wasn’t being serious because she honestly made a point of “travel now, be adult later, you shouldn’t even have to pay your own phone bill in your 20s”. Like girl, that’s not how any of this works. It is a huge privilege to be able to explore the world – besides, it’s ridiculous to say you don’t have to be an “adult” when you’re travelling. Travel isn’t some magical unicorn land where suddenly all your responsibilities disappear. Most travellers have made their own money to be able to do what they do.

    Great pictures btw and I like how well you made your point, you’ve gained a new follower 🙂
    Elina recently posted..What to do in Gdansk & around for 3 daysMy Profile

  • You just have to talk to some of the working class people in cheap countries you visit. Often the fee for a passport is as much as they earn in half a year! No way they can save that much money, plus whatever they will need for visa fees and transport across the border (don’t even think about a plane ticket!).
    Juergen | dare2go.com recently posted..Photo Gallery from the Carnival 2016 in MontevideoMy Profile

  • Trixie says:

    When I was younger, I had dreams of traveling to the places of my ancestors, but disease and disability has robbed me of them. I’m currently half way across the country from my husband, and neither of us can afford to travel to see one another. It breaks my heart that my great love is now from afar, with no end in sight.

  • Bianca says:

    I disagree with this article. So as you believe that not everyone is able to travel they should just give up? Yes, you might have a Canadian passport that allows you to travel visa free to many places, which certainly helps. I have a Zambian passport and need a visa to travel visa-free to even less countries than your Jamaican passport. Has that stopped me? No, just means I have to factor in visa fees. I wasn’t born into a wealthy family. I have been looking after me since getting a job at 16, put myself through college and university and still manage to travel! Travel is a priority for me so funds that I would otherwise waste on other things I put towards a flight. Most of your reasoning also reek of privilege themselves. I do believe any and everyone can travel if they want to. Travel doesn’t just mean coming to Europe or seeing the so called developed countries. If someone doesn’t want to travel and prefers to spend it on luxury handbags, sneakers and cars, or their home, that’s fine. It doesn’t mean they can’t travel. If someone is heavily in debt, doesn’t mean they can’t travel at that particular time, just means they need to correct that situation before they buy any flights. Posts like this are just as bad as the ones that caused you to write this piece. This post can be applied to other situations, this like saying people can have particular jobs so we should just stop saying they should. It’s total BS! It may mean working hard in putting all they need in place to fulfill that goal. Same goes with travel. So, we should just say not everyone can travel, they shouldnt bother trying, right?
    Bianca recently posted..El Caminito Del Rey | Spain’s Most Dangerous Hiking TrailMy Profile

    • didi says:

      Do you have a reading comprehension problem? You didn’t get the point of her writing, did you? She was saying that not everyone is capable of traveling and that we who can travel should understand why that happens. Not everyone can travel and sometimes it is not for the lack of trying. If one needs to see the kind of people she is writing about, they just need to look at you. So stop looking from your point of view and start thinking about war refugees, child laborers, etc. and think can they travel even if they want to?

    • Erica says:

      Amen Bianca. Thank you for writing this!

      “This post can be applied to other situations, this like saying people can have particular jobs so we should just stop saying they should. It’s total BS! It may mean working hard in putting all they need in place to fulfill that goal. Same goes with travel. So, we should just say not everyone can travel, they shouldnt bother trying, right?”

      Mobility is key. Change is key. If you don’t like your situation, change it. It CAN be something that comes down to mindset. Do you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset?

      —————
      The fixed mindset creates an internal monologue that is focused on judging: “This means I’m a loser.” “This means I’m a better person than they are.” “This means I’m a bad husband.” “This means my partner is selfish.”
      People with a growth mindset are also constantly monitoring what’s going on, but their internal monologue is not about judging themselves and others in this way. Certainly they’re sensitive to positive and negative information, but they’re attuned to its implications for learning and constructive action: What can I learn from this? How can I improve? How can I help my partner do this better? — mindsetonline.com
      ——————-

      We live in a world where the impossible happens everyday. People are breaking molds. People are becoming the first ones to go to college in their families (http://www.imfirst.org/more/). People are starting side businesses online that make them more money in a year than they would have ever dreamed of making in a lifetime for only $100 of seed money (http://fourhourworkweek.com/2012/05/24/six-figure-businesses-built-for-less-than-100-17-lessons-learned/). You can stay over a strangers house in a foreign country without paying (https://www.couchsurfing.com). I mean, there’s technology that makes people without legs be able to dance again (https://www.ted.com/talks/hugh_herr_the_new_bionics_that_let_us_run_climb_and_dance). We live in an age where the impossible is not impossible anymore. People are breaking molds each and every day.

      Anyway, well said Bianca.

      P.S. How rude Didi! Honestly.

    • Ree_Ree says:

      Girl, I hear you. This is the second post that I have seen with this same theme. While the blogger makes some good points there is still so much shade in this post, and the comments. Its like a humble brag. Like let me show you how much more enlightened I am, I can travel, but you never will be able to,.let me write about it to make myself feel better about my empathy and remind you of what you can’t do.

    • Abbie says:

      I am surprised that you read that entire post and came to that conclusion. It’s not a matter of never try. it just means it’s not a mere mindset issue.
      So called First world, “I can’t travel” does not mean the same thing around the world. This is a multicultural travel blog so different worldviews should be acknowledged. Travelling out of the so-called third world is no as easy as snapping your fingers. Some people are blinded by their own light and don’t see the darkness of others. You live in London. It’s easy to travel from London. I know because I’ve lived there.
      I’m young, have a good job working for a multinational company, good education up to masters, savings in the bank and great travel history; I’ve been travelling since I was about 6. But “even” (sarcasm) I can’t travel for fun as much as I’d like simply because it’s hella expensive from Accra (where I’m usually based) and I hold a Ghanaian passport. My British 1st cousins don’t have a quarter the “troubles” I have with visas (application time and expense, plus having to prove you have Bill Gates money and won’t settle in whatever country it is), exorbitant flight charges, fewer travel options and even trivial issues like being asked way more questions by immigration. I have been rejected at least once for a visa, just because…there was no assigned reason. Let’s not even start about the depreciation rate of the currency against the international ones which can add thousands to the cost of your trip in a few weeks.
      I consider myself so fortunate and lucky to even be able to experience all these hiccups. So I save for trips and piggyback on work trips and savour every second because I am very privileged to do it, warts and all! I won’t dare tell a househelp or porter, even some of my friends who haven’t been as lucky as I am that they can’t travel for fun because they’re not trying hard enough. Some people I know who worked full time (and there are few part time opportunities except trading) from 15yrs didn’t even get a half decent education and travel didn’t happen for them until they were quite old and established. You cannot queue at an embassy in Africa and tell them you’re using your mindset to travel. It is super hard, that’s why after doing all this I think should actually appreciate her point as you actually understand the effort that goes into it and not bandy it about like a cliched slogan.

  • P says:

    It’s great that you can even say this. As an Argentinean girl, I would LOVE to travel the world. BUT first of all, I live in a 3rd world country economically and politically unstable.(That means inflation, corruption, crazy foreign currency restrictions, etc.) I work and go to university. Plane tickets to travel even inside Argentina are extremelly expensive and I can’t even afford to save any money having a good well-paying professional 45-hour-a-week job.

  • Danie says:

    Love this article – refreshing to see a travel blogger telling it like it is, rather than spreading all this artificial crap. One thing I will say that was not addressed in your article is that the majority of people don’t actually WANT a life of travel, though they think they do. While I do believe anyone can find a way to travel, it requires two very important things: 1. An absolute and complete desire to make travel your life, and 2. A willingness to accept many sacrifices. Even someone from a poor country can travel the world, but that might mean hitchhiking, camping, and dumpster diving to sustain the life. Is everyone willing to do that? Hell no! So different circumstances mean having to deal with different sacrifices, and each person has their own threshold on how much they can take while still enjoying the life of travel.

  • @maravlas1 says:

    I agree with this completely, When my kids were younger I took many some with and some without them to Mexico(without) , Hawaii(with), Paris(with one) amazing others. Both of my sisters and many of my friends questioned how I traveled with small children. The fact of the matter is that their grandad was a world traveler and he preferred to give trips as gifts over trinkets. I will forever appreciate him for instilling the love of travel in my children. Before he passed he took my children ages 8 and 13 on a summer long trip from Texas>DC>Italy>Greece where they stayed on Santorini Island. They had a blast. Everybody’s circumstances are different and that should be respected across the bored. I blog about health and wellness and a similar dialog that I encounter is that people who eat meat are too lazy and insensitive or “not woke” to consider going Vegan. No, we just like meat… Sorry. We have to get to a place where we respect everyone’s path.

  • Thanks for this- I posted something similar a few weeks ago and was worried about its reception from bloggers, but more and more people seem to be coming around to this way of thinking. 🙂
    Katie Featherstone recently posted..Panama- a budget travel guide by Jess Signet.My Profile

  • Danny says:

    It feels so refreshing to read an article that is authentic and down-to-earth. Being able to travel is really a gift and a privilege, and I couldn’t agree with you more that it is not something everyone can do (although we all wish this weren’t the reality). I think that for so many of us who come from a privileged position, it’s easy to get caught up in a sense of self-entitlement. So thank you so much for this reminder to enjoy every single moment of travel, for we are truly lucky to have such an amazing opportunity!
    Danny recently posted..The Lessons Solo Travel Has Taught MeMy Profile

  • Michael says:

    I loved this article, but my personal apprehension to travel is the slight fear of my safety. I have friends that talk about the beauty in getting lost in a foreign land but they don’t share my skin tone, and there are still dozens of hate groups/KKK meetings and rally’s being held. I’m not so much scared as concerned. So guided touristy tours yes. Walking aimlessly unaccompanied… not so much.

    • Vasily Arkhipov says:

      First off, many thanks Oneika for posting this and congrats on having so many responses; you clearly hit a nerve. Anything that promotes deeper socioeconomic awareness and analysis is sorely needed in popular discourse today. Having said that, echoing Michael, a major dynamic largely absent from this conversation are the realities of racism. To focus on my own experience, as a Black person with the good fortune to travel widely and frequently, I’ve found that most of the mainstream travel writing out there leaves me completely on my own in this respect. To wit, for better or worse, I’ve often relied on Lonely Planet as an effective source of information to at least orient myself in a new place. Curiously, although they often make an effort to highlighting the circumstances one might encounter as a woman or LGBTQ person (though perhaps not the T), there is almost uniform silence on racial issues. I suppose this is a facet of most travel writers being white, indicative itself of at least the younger backpacker scene also being overwhelmingly white. I do my research so I know that in many places the worst that is likely to happen is uncouth or annoying curiosity (stares, being to have a photo taken with you for the umpteenth time, more stares). But when visiting countries in the throws of xenophobic nationalism (i.e. many parts of Europe unfortunately) the stakes become much higher for travelling-while-Black. While you will hopefully survive encountering disrespectful attitudes or getting denied accommodation in Italy and Spain, for example, how will you fare after being set upon by gangs of neo-nazis in Germany, Poland or Russia? The thought alone can make you want to stick to the terrain you know.

  • Sarah says:

    Thank you for saying exactly what I’ve been thinking lately! I have just started a blog to write tips for people who are interested in moving abroad and in the process I have also realized the snobbery that can go along with being well traveled. I am so thankful for the opportunities I’ve had, and I too want to share my stories to help others that would like to fulfil their dreams, but I agree not everyone is as lucky as we are.
    Thanks for putting it into perspective.
    Keep on being awesome!

  • Star Lengas says:

    I admit my guilt! This used to be my mindset in my early 20s that if people wanted it they just had to try harder. It’s the whole “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality. As I’ve matured, I’ve definitely had to bite my tongue, when someone belabored the trials of traveling, because a) I didn’t know their story b) who am I to judge how someone wants to travel OR why they can’t travel. Oh and passport privilege is real, as much as I groan about the craziness of the USA, I wouldn’t trade in my citizenship because of the privilege it allows me.

  • Marc says:

    I completely disagree. This article is only valid if you define travel in the most commonly accepted way. Travel doesn’t have to be far or expensive or long.

  • Andaleeb says:

    It’s like telling a piss poor person they cannot achieve big because they haven’t tried enough. But isn’t this how capitalism works? It’s never about opportunities but individuals who are not hard working enough. However, there’s another side too that thinks it is easy to travel and one must be rich and have plenty of time and an easy life over all if one travels. It takes a lot of killing my desire for other things to achieve the target of visiting any place even domestically in Pakistan once or twice a year. And of course some people do not have the ‘luxury’ to do even that.

  • Abdullah says:

    I like your travel blog a lot , I myself relate to this article in a way. In my case I’m from somali happened to be among the most unstable countries and worst passports to travel with. I work and live in Dubai UAE. and although i can afford to travel monthly, doing so with my visa requirements makes it so hard I just don’t bother. Kinda sucks but just a reality and as you mentioned some don’t seem to understand that not being able to travel for so many reasons is totally normal. However in the few times that I did travel alone I did experience some great things and made some good memories.

    keep posting your awesome blogs.

  • Ace says:

    I agree…but if you’re single, don’t have kids, don’t have someone to take care of, have a decent paying job, and physically, mentally, and emotionally able…then you can afford to travel.

    How much you spend on travel is a choice.

    You can’t say that you can’t afford to travel because you don’t like: couch surfing, dorm type hostels, cooking your own food, working in exchange for food and/or accommodation, etc.

    Cheap travel is possible!

  • Ukuu Tafari says:

    I agree, I have been very fortunate to have traveled to places most people only barely dream of and it has changed my outlook forever. I have to say that being raised in a household of immigrants and briefly as an army brat, I sometimes take for granted the privilege of being comfortable and able to explore the world. In my household it was common to head to the international departure and arrivals row, even my 10 year old daughter who holds two passports knows Paris, Berlin and Dubai like the back of her hand. But I have come to find that especially in my cultural group it is like speaking of magical voodoo carpet rides to those that don’t have a hard working passport, I’m on my third by the way 🙂 I always try to encourage people to go! Just go! I do disagree that it is hard, well if you know how to get those bargain flights etc, and don’t mind making your way say from Frankfurt to where ever on a train or couch surfing even crashing in a hostel, it can be done… Go just go!

  • John Michael says:

    I think it’s silly to assume that “traveling” must only be of the globetrotting variety. The very perspective that the only travel of real and lasting value is one where you travel to another country is privileged to begin with. I definitely think it’s gross for bloggers and sponsored travel sites to judge those who don’t feel that they can afford to travel significant distances, but I’ve had incredibly rewarding and memorable experiences from traveling to parts of my own city that I’ve never been to before, or even to a town 20 minutes away. So yes, EVERYONE can ‘travel’, and traveling should have more than a singular, privileged definition.

  • Mary Ann Saunders says:

    I liked this post and am impressed by all the comments! I couldn’t read them in their entirety, so hope that this comment isn’t repeating things that someone has said.

    Like you, Oneika, I have a Canadian passport so, theoretically, could also go to all 174 countries without a Visa. However, I am also a transgender woman, which means that simply getting through airport security puts me at risk of being harassed, humiliated and abused. (And before anyone says “OK, but being transgender is a choice you made,” I’ll just say that making such a statement only shows how little you know about what it means to be transgender.) In addition, depending on which province a Canadian trans woman is born in, she might or might not be able to change the gender marker on her birth certificate and then on her passport. Travelling as a woman with M on your passport is definitely not safe. Additionally, while the Canadian government offers protections for citizens who carry its passports, transgender people in certain circumstances have to sign a waiver saying that we relinquish our claim to those protections. Something could happen to you in another country and the government would have some obligation to help you; transgender Canadians might not enjoy that privilege.

    And then there is the question of safety. How many out of those 173 countries would it be safe for me to travel in? I’m not sure, but a lot of them would get knocked out right away. (Murder rates for trans women in parts of Central and South America that I wouldn’t even consider going. In fact, there are even some places in the US I wouldn’t go, to be honest.)

    Of course, none of this means that I _can’t_ travel, but there are certainly many places that other Canadians whose income and circumstances are otherwise similar to mine can go that I _wouldn’t_ go because I do not have their gender privilege.

  • Mary Ann Saunders says:

    correction/addition “Murder rates for trans women in parts of Central and South America *are so high* that I wouldn’t even consider going.”

  • Lisbon Jerome says:

    I have to respectfully disagree with Oneika. Before I go forward let me say that I have worked (part time) in the travel industry (my full time job is a wealth financial advisor) for 20 years. I have worked for two airlines in a variety of roles both at the airport and in reservations sales. With the popularity of travel search engines it makes flights more affordable. As well as hotel accomodations. Those who feel that they cannot travel are limited by their very own imaginations and access to tools. Proper planning and even working with a travel agent allows you to pay for a trip piece by piece. As for those in failing health and with disabilities travel way more than you are giving credit for. At least one flight per day in my area has those who need assistance because of disabilities boarding and disembarking flights. Even being at the ticket counter I have seen individuals coming to the counter with their pennies to pay for their flight, more than one family member or friend with credit card to split the cost of their fare. Seeing what I have seen for as long as I have, tells me that the opposite opinion is what I stand by, again respectfully.

  • Aleta says:

    I definitely hate the privileged idealism that everyone should be able to travel if they try hard enough. For many people that’s not true. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to pay for basic needs traveling is probably beyond your means.

    However, among many of my peers I have noticed that even though we are in similar financial circumstances they proclaim they have no money to travel and express jealousy as if we didn’t have the same student loans budget and debt. For a lot of them I think the idea of backpacking and budget travel is what scares them. Yes, I am willing to sleep in a room full of strangers and sometimes the dorm showers are scary, but the resulting opportunities are worth it. Travel does not have to be as expensive as many (from developed countries) think. There are ways to see the world in ways that don’t break the bank as long as you’re willing to accept that not everything may be perfect.

  • Ruthie says:

    There’s a tone trending here that ” I came from nothing and I made it, if you don’t get to travel then it its your fault”. That’s like 2 people getting the same cancer diagnosis, same treatment and same prognosis. One lives the other dies. Is it because the one that died didn’t fight their cancer hard enough??? Some things in life are beyond our control and you gotta work around it the best way you can. Some people are more equipped than others. Some have better odds stacked in their favor. Everybody’s situation is unique. Just bc you made it, doesn’t mean that everyone else can follow your footsteps. Now you can help to inspire but don’t look down on others for not “trying” hard enough.

  • Polly says:

    THIS. It always warms my heart a bit when a known and respected travel blogger reminds people of this fact, so thank you! And yikes at some of the comments above.

    When someone insists that *anyone* can travel, without exceptions or caveats, they’re either being incredibly naive (and I wonder if they’ve had their eyes open as they trek around the world) or they’re selling something. And part of me thinks, well yeah, they’re reaching out to their target audience, but another part is annoyed that they’re disregarding SO many people with such a blanket statement, and that it’s always the same people getting left out of the conversation.
    Polly recently posted..Cape Breton National ParkMy Profile

  • Tola says:

    I think you make some good points. However, I think it’s equally important to consider the audience for posts like that. A lot of people complain about not being able to travel (primarily because of money) when it’s within their power to change that (for the most part). They would rather get immediate gratification by spending money on things rather than waiting to save for a trip they’ve been dreaming of. If you can’t afford to take care of your most basic needs, no rational person expects you to travel. The same goes for responsibilities. It’s all about perspective. Consider who the target audience is.

  • Athena says:

    It’s refreshing to have someone talk about privilege. I’ve been working on a post about the politics of ‘race’ (I know it’s ethnicity, but since many people think it’s race, I’m using it for now) and passports when travelling. I find many travel posts could have a little bit more self-awareness – in some cases of privilege, and in others of historical context and racial dynamics in the places one visits.

    Good for you for sounding this out succinctly!

  • Jenn McCall says:

    Sexuality, gender and race can also be barriers to visiting certain places!
    The ability to take vacation time from work can also be a major obstacle to people who can save up enough to travel – not only the additional lost income (in the absence of paid vacation days), but being granted time off and still having a job to return to.

    P.s. where was the first photo in this article taken? So stunning!

  • Kellie Mogg says:

    Great post. Generally, I agree with you. I do still drop the ‘if you really want to, you can travel’ comment but I typically only make that comment to a certain niche of our population which are those who have had a fortunate upbringing and mostly show doubt in their ability to travel as a result of the ideology that they need to make a bunch of money/form a family/etc. first and thennnn travel. But I think this perspective needs to be more acknowledged. Because it’s true, we aren’t are born into such lucky situations. I know I was. Still feeling blessed. – K

  • Alicja says:

    I do not agree with you in 100%… As long as great part of what you wrote is totally true, I would not underestimate the value of the mindset. One might not be able to travel the whole world, but traveling is not only about counting the countries we visit, for me it is about exploring new places, meeting new people, tasting new food. I would not define traveling just with the kilometers. Visiting next province is also a traveling. Roadtrip through the surrounding villages is also traveling. Each of us has his or her own way to do it.

    • I agree with you Alicja. Travel to me doesn’t mean flying across the world all the time. It’s about discovery and meeting new people, being open to new things. I live in The Bahamas. A country made up of 700 island and cays. Sadly, a large number of people have not even visited another island in the country. It’s all about priorities. There is sometimes a lack of will and want. I think where most travel bloggers get it wrong is that not everyone WANT to travel. I am constantly asked about why I travel so much and many are surprised when I write about things in our own country. Things that are open to everyone, but they don’t take advantage of. To each his or her own.

  • Micki says:

    One of my favorite quotes is from St. Augustine: “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” I think the biggest issue is our priorities and I mean this in terms of how people view travel. Yes, travel is often fun, a vacation, and a luxury, but more than all this it’s one of the most educational things you can ever do. To me it’s the same misguided thinking that leads most countries to cut funding for music, arts and the humanities first. I saw several statements from parents saying I’d rather send my kids to private school and pay my mortgage then go on “vacation”. Maybe we should start thinking about travel as one of those indispensable things. One of the easiest times (and cheapest) times for people to travel in when they are in college. And while I know everyone doesn’t go, the number of Americans who do is staggering. My one regret in college is that I did not take more advantage of study abroad opportunities. Besides everything being cheaper (yay student discounts!)There are a crap ton of scholarships to send students on study abroad, and no one ever told me!!! As some people noted, I prefer travel bloggers that spend more time actively educating people on how to travel cheaply. Distance is not as important as the willingness to try new things. The U.S. is so vast that places like New Orleans and Santa Fe felt like a whole different country. I also see a lot of people trotting out the poor African people who can’t afford to travel. I happen to be half Nigerian half Liberian and I was shocked when I was in Nigeria for my NYSC (a year of service/work every Nigerian has to complete) the ignorance of Nigerians of different tribes within their own countries. A bus ticket to a different state can be dirt cheap. Additionally West African countries let you cross borders openly and visa free, but most Nigerians never think to travel to the countries next door except a few business men and women. All this is to say, yes, they are desperately poor people who can’t afford travel, and people with health issues, but I would argue that this is a much smaller minority than we think. Posts like this give people an easy out. Travel teaches you better than anything that people are people and it’s an invaluable lesson that can’t be taught in schools or when you stay in your city/ neighborhood. Especially in the intolerant world we live in.

  • Becci says:

    This is so spot on! I’ve been travelling non stop since I was 18 and used to be all like “anyone can travel blah blah you just have to want it badly enough”… Until I married my husband who is from Nepal and I was like oh, maybe not. He can travel to like 10 countries without going through nightmarish applications and proof of funds, return tickets etc etc he hasn’t even been able to come to NZ to meet my family despite us being married!

  • Maxwella says:

    The problem with this article is that “travel” is defined as one thing only: endless globe trotting for life.
    There’s more that one way to travel. And I really hate the word “can’t”. I stand by that if there’s a will – there’s a way. People have done the impossible so many times in all aspects of life. Everything is dictated by desire and will to work for it.

  • Annika says:

    Awesome article. And let’s not forget, money aside, that especially for many women it is not socially acceptable and thus possible to travel. So to tell these women that everybody can travel is a bit of an ignorant slap in the face.

  • avi says:

    This writer is not a true traveler she falls in to the same paradigm that the tourists that post pictures of their margaritas in a five star hotel or one that post a picture of their business class ticket or chair. Travel is not about flying it’s not about having a passport it’s about having new experiences. I have been to over 130 countries and I still get excited if I go to a new city next door or state. I was handicap and could not walk so I took road trips and my friends commented how refreshing t was that I was just as excited being in Arkansas as was being in Paris. Travel is about going to new places and new experiences. So if you just walk a different street you have traveled. It’s about inspiring and this writer just makes it about privilege. Yes going to Cancun flying first class and staying in a 5 start all inclusive is privilege but then again it’s not travel. Taking the bus to Cancun, staying at a couch surfing and eating street tacos is travel and can be done less than the plane ticket there. Travel is experiencing new cultures and places if that is a privilege just walk down a new street and you have traveled.

  • I have to agree, I hate when so many bloggers say I can travel whenever I want but that’s a big no! I have to save money, pay bills, coordinate with my hourly job. I choose travel over college which I don’t regret. I sold my car and took one suitcase to travel half way around the world. I’ve always felt I get more out of travel than a degree but sooner or later I have to earn a degree to get a better job. I still travel but it’s only to the next state or near where I live at the time. Thank you for sharing this post!!

  • Ana says:

    I totally agree. I am from country that doesn’t have great economic situation. I have always dreamed about travelling, but never could afford it. After spending five years of our lives and any money we could earn on college, my boyfriend and I finally managed to save something so we can go on trip. But we managed to save up by eating on a budget, and not going out for a year. Whole year, for a week and a half in London. A lot of people can’t understand how difficult saving money actually is, when you are living from paycheck to paycheck. Now I have moved into another country and I couldn’t believe how easier things are. Now, on just one paycheck we can afford more when we were on two back in our country…
    Ana recently posted..The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina GeorgeMy Profile

  • Hannah says:

    Fantastic point. I’m currently attending University and plan to study abroad this year. Although it will be a financial challenge, I’m grateful that I even get the chance to see the world. My roommate, however, is undocumented and does not have the privilege to travel (if she did, she wouldn’t be allowed back). So, thanks for putting this out there. It’s irritating when people just assume that everyone is blessed with the same amount of privilege.

  • A says:

    I did a couple Contiki tours where I met people from Australia who were traveling for 2 months! They were in their early 20s and taking $10K vacations. I individually talked to them to figure this out and found out it is a different mindset. First Australia gives them 2 months vacation. And since it takes them 24 hours to fly anywhere at $2500 a pop for a plane ticket they travel for longer period of times. These people I met all had working class jobs, lived on their own, and did not get money from their parents. They told me they simply didn’t buy anything for a year to save for their vacation. They must live is a less materialistic society than America where we have online shopping and go out to eat every weekend.

    I know many Americans who make decent money but can’t seem to save anything to travel. We all have our priorities, some people would rather buy lots of shoes and go out drinking every weekend than save up for a big purchase of a vacation.

  • I couldn’t agree more! well said!
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  • Laura says:

    YES! Everything you said here a thousand times over!

    I get so annoyed when I read things like ‘stop paying for coffee’ and ‘stop paying to go to the movies or for gym memberships.’ It’s like, very few people pay for those things anyway and how privileged are they to assume we do. It’s basic common sense to eat in rather than out to save money, I want to hear about real tricks they used to save money.

    I have one trick, it’s called ‘save a note’. If you pick a particular note/coin to save and never spend you’ll eventually have enough of them to spend. I save my £2 coins and in a year I’ve collected almost £60 worth. It’s not a lot but it’s the little things.

    I realise I’m super privileged because I’m healthy (and if I wasn’t I live in a country where healthcare is free), I live with my parents who don’t make me pay rent so everything I earn I can save. I walk to work so no transport fees and the only things I spend money on is food and clothes. I’ve still saved less than £4000 though and I’ve been saving for half a year.

    My new plan is that I’m going to work abroad as an English teacher (again, I’m super privileged that I come from an English-speaking country to be able to do this). I probably won’t get paid a lot but at least I’ll be travelling!

    Thanks so much for writing this article. Somebody needed to say it!

  • Sahara says:

    I take it that many of the responders here are “young” and can take off whenever they want.

    Understand something. First, in America, the majority of jobs give you 2 WEEKS, if that, and not all time saved rolls over. Okay, so what? For me, it’s not the expense of getting there, it’s where to stay. I’ve stayed in some funky places and that gets OLD fast. Air Bn’B has made life easier thank goodness.

    If you’re African-American or another person of color, there’s the FEAR FACTOR if you don’t have someone who can honestly tell you what going to “wherever” is like. And trust me, some of my travel experiences were AWFUL in terms of racism and “colorism”, in countries of color. It hasn’t stopped me, but I’m more cautious.

    And finally, while you’re moving around, the rest of the world is too. It may be great to work here and there, save, then move on. But when you’re ready to ACTUALLY settle, because you’re older and need to have some “stability” to get to your next stage in life, you may find that whatever you thought you could come back to, whether field to work in, or situation to return to––isn’t there. And starting over and again as you age, is what gets more difficult. You’ll need more than “great experiences and memories” to thrive and not just survive. I have friends who were “world travelers”, now are living hand to mouth. That said, it’s not that everybody CAN’T travel, but for some folks, the future is about where they want to wind up––not just where to go next.

  • Melinda says:

    I completely agree, and I’m glad you shared this post! I’m surprised more travel bloggers don’t write on this topic! I always express how grateful and fortunate I feel to have visited all the places I’ve been to, as I’m very aware that many people would never be able to experience the luxury of travel. Thank you for sharing this!

  • Vixy says:

    I hate the whole ‘everyone can travel’.

    My friend can’t, she’d really would to love to travel the world but she has multiple hospital stays that can be up to month or two each time.There really hasn’t been a year she hasn’t been to hospital at some point.

    She can’t travel to any place that doesn’t have a decent health care system in case she needs a hospital stay during the trip. She once had a chance to go to Thailand for a week, but she’d have to pay over £3000 for her travel insurance.

    I know many people who would love to travel but are on benefits, they get up to £200 a week. But that depends on the individual, the higher one is for parents with children and people with illnesses. Some people only get about £70 or so a week. £200 for travelling to and from places, food and other things that people need to run a home. They would love to travel, but they can’t.

  • Conswalia says:

    Oneika, I continue to be impressed with your writing. I enjoyed meeting you at the Nomadness conference will of of the other fortunate travelers like us.

    A HUGE THANK YOUR FOR THIS ARTICLE! I’m sure that by now you realize that you’ve hit a nerve. I’m glad that you pounced on it. You touched on several possible circumstances for people. of course there are more. I love that other people have introduced their own personal stories, like those who are undocumented, those who take care of family members who are less fortunate, or thousands of dollars (pounds, euros, etc.) of debt because of medical bills. Most of us responding are very likely Westerners. Privileged. Fortunate, whatever you want to call it, it’s put us in the right place in the right time in history to do almost anything we want, travel included. If you have a family like mine, you’ll have family that will never let you forget that. Also, yes, there are people from developing countries globetrotting as well. Every country has upper, middle and lower class people whose circumstances will dictate their opportunities. And yes, there are exceptions to the rule ( for those who said and will say “I did this and that and I was born in a cave”). Still, it amazed me the number of people who just completely missed your point.

    • Conswalia says:

      Please forgive typos. First sentence should read: Oneika, I continue to be impressed with your writing. I enjoyed meeting you at the Nomadness conference with all of the other fortunate travelers like us.

  • Danial says:

    As a Southeast Asian, I can understand the money part. Travel has been booming around the region but it takes a lot of money to go to Europe or the Americas. I would have to factor in the currency exchange (at the moment one Malaysian Ringgit is about an American quarter) so we have to save up or work doubly hard to reach our desired budget.

  • Alexa says:

    Love This Post. You bring lots of great points especially about the passport situation. Sometimes it’s difficult to even get that!

  • Bruce says:

    Join the military. You’ll travel whether you want to or not. You will also see places no one other than journalists will go.

  • Jennifer says:

    I totally agree, not everyone can travel, no matter how much they want to. On the flip side, I have heard from people that I am ‘so lucky’ to be able to travel – and whilst yes, I am lucky, I also prioritise my hard earnt money, not spending it on meals out / drinking that many people I know do.

  • Karlie says:

    Preach! I wholeheartedly agree with all of your points here. When people ask me how I travel so much, I certainly encourage them to prioritize travel, save their pennies, etc. But I know that I am fortunate and privileged to hold a Canadian passport and have health on my side, amongst many other factors.
    Karlie recently posted..Beyond the bunny hill: Getting outdoorsy in BanffMy Profile

  • Ariane says:

    I read a post a few months ago in which the author of the blog gathered a few minority travel bloggers to talk about travel and privilege in their experiences. It is interesting to juxtapose her post with yours, as both of you make valid points. Here is her post.

    http://www.thisamericangirl.com/2015/06/22/minority-travel/

  • Csaba & Bea says:

    Wow, great topic and great post and we love reading all the different viewpoints in the comments!

    Living in Eastern Europe we feel ourselves kind of ‘in the middle’ – privileged compared to a lot of developing countries, but not privileged compared to majority of the Western countries. Reading things like ‘travelling in Eatern European countries is dirt cheap’ usually make us roll our eyes, but of course it’s true if you add ‘from a Western European/North American salary’ at the end of it. We got it.

    We definitely agree that travel is a privilege. And that people are all different and it’s hard to say anything in general. There are people from poor countries who work hard towards a better life and they succeed (and a lot of times that means moving to developed countries and getting job opportunities there), but there are people who work hard, but still there are things they just cannot change no matter how hard they try. And of course, people in the developed countries can also have conditions which they just cannot change. And some just don’t like travelling. And that’s also true that there are people who like complaining rather than taking actions to reach their goals. One just can’t judge ‘in general’. And really, we should not judge at all.
    And we are definitely grateful for our opportunities which allowed us to see a lot from our wonderful world – and while we work hard to make our dreams come true, we definitely have the chance to start from a better position than many others in the world.
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  • Jasmine says:

    Really interesting read – I’m a Brit who’s been living in Australia for the past few years and recently wrote something along a similar line. There were a couple of different ideologies that bothered me, both of which I’m seeing in this comment section, incidentally. The first was the young Northern European, straight out of high school, who goes backpacking for 12 months and mouths off about the people back home who haven’t done the same. It’s simply a fact that even in developed countries like Germany and the UK (two of the biggest sources of backpackers in Australia), not everyone is in a position to take off abroad – whether their restraints are physical, mental or financial.
    The second group of people that troubled me were the people who judge you on the ‘authenticity’ of your travel. These people are generally from quite privileged backgrounds, and are often men, overlooking that due to safety concerns, their self-dictated standards of authentic travel are not accessible to women or POC. Those of us who have travelled should be grateful for the opportunities and experiences we have had, and acknowledge that they are not available to everyone.

  • Lea says:

    I don’t fully agree with this article. Yes you make a couple valid points but no one said travel has to involve jetting off to a different country. Domestic travel is still travel and a passport wouldn’t stop you from doing it. Yes travel has been associated with the privileged but times have changed you can still travel to somewhere like South East Asia and stay for less than 6 dollars a night. I think it would be best to say If you want to travel find a way to do that works with what you have – if you have time, money , will power etc to do a round the world tour – go for it. If you can afford just a road trip down the next state then go for it and if travel has no appeal to you fine – just don’t do it.

    • Oneika says:

      Hi Lea, you’re right in that travel doesn’t have to be international, but even travel within the U.S. and UK (where I’ve lived) or Canada (where I’m from) is frightening expensive so, even though you don’t need a passport, those living from paycheck to paycheck simply wouldn’t not have the funds to undertake such a journey. As for your point about SE Asia, sure, you can eat/live cheaply once on the ground but what about the cost of the plane ticket? And the visitors visas required for most my fellow American and Canadian passport holders to go to cheaper countries like Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, etc? There are additional costs that are incurred. I never discouraged travel for those who struggle– rather I implored privileged people like me to think twice before telling the less privileged that “anybody can do it if they put their mind to it”.

  • jasmine says:

    Thanks for writing this, I totally agree and I think it’s so important for us to be aware of the certain priveledges we set out into the world with in order to see more clearly on the road.

    It reminds me of another thing that bugs me, is the attitude amongst some travellers that coming home is disapointing because no one else “gets it” or people who stayed in one place are “stuck” when actually some can’t travel or simply don’t want to which is 100% their choice to make and be happy with! I wrote about that in one of my blog posts actually, I’ll find the link http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/jasmine-irving/travelling-coming-home_b_7877896.html

    However I do know people who would love to travel and say they can’t afford it but I have spent as little as £90 in one month, way less than I’d spend at home, by doing workaway so all you need is money for a plane/train ticket then the whole time you’re there it’s free as you work in exchange for food and board.

  • Alli says:

    While I agree telling someone loaded with debt, bad choices or circumstances in life “the world is their oyster go for it.” Is unfair and unrealistic. And Is insensitive at best, rubbing salt in a wound at worst. However on the FLIPside i believe anything is possible (w God of course) many persons are told the impossible (President Obama) I’m sure many folks thought that was impossible. I have a poor growing up a good education but when I went to Africa w my church I had $20 dollars. No lie. So I mean never limit yourself, no everyone will not travel but not everyone wants to, but while being ‘realistic’ we always leave room for the impossible.some ppl given the opportunity wouldn’t know what to or appreciate it so I believe every gets what they can handle
    Some ppl don’t value travel and that’s okay too. Some folks need to stay home 🙂 and build community. But I feel you false hope is the worst.

  • Isuann says:

    Hi Oneika, you’re one of my favourite travel bloggers. I can relate to so many of your posts and videos! I am Malaysian, still in graduate school, and travel as much as time and money would allow me. But our currency (1 USD = ~4 MYR) often puts us at a disadvantage when travelling to countries like the US, Australia, UK, Europe etc. Two years ago I managed to save up RM2000 over a few months, but after converting, this sum only amounted to less than EUR 500 – not even a quarter of my savings! However, I’ve also realised the priviledge of a Malaysian passport, compared to that of many other countries.

    Thanks for acknowledging these points and sharing your thoughts!

  • Shanetta says:

    I agree with this post 100%. I know there are a lot of people who can’t afford to travel and those who can just don’t have the time. In the U.S. it’s hard for many of us to get a week off from work and two weeks or more is often impossible. I also believe that some of us just don’t understand the possibilities of traveling, especially people of color. Reading your blog is a breath of fresh air and has ignited my passion for traveling more. Safe travels.

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