I recently read an article that claimed travel is only possible for a handful of privileged people, and that as such, discussions of travel and comments about travel are very often classist. It got me thinking, is travel really only for the world’s elite?
What is Travel?
To go from one place to another. It really is as simple as that; to journey from one place to another, by any means. Everyone travels. From home to work, to visit family or friends, to see or experience something different. The notion that travel is only travel when its international, or to a distant and exotic place, is incorrect and may be where the feeling creeps in that travel is only for the world’s elite.
The Cost of Travel
The idea that travel is not affordable for the majority of people in today’s world to me is insane. Because unlike previous generations, we are lucky to live in a time where there are options. We have immeasurable resources, many of which are accessible through the internet, which can help us go as far as we want. Travel can be as cheap or as expensive as you need it to be. And that to me, is the key. Can everyone afford to travel in luxury? No. Can everyone afford to stay in 5* hotels for 2 weeks? No. But that’s not what travel is! Travel is about going, seeing, doing and experiencing.
Money comes and money goes; sometimes I have more to spend and sometimes I have basically nothing. But I travel. Because I love it, and because I will find a way. I know that travel doesn’t have to be far and wide. Beauty and culture is everywhere, even on your doorstep. Can’t afford to fly? Look for discount train journeys. Search well in advance and use price comparison websites like Skyscanner. Have a look at last-minute deals. Go online and search for campervan relocation offers, or car-sharing groups. Can’t afford a hotel? Find cheap rooms at AirBnB or stay for free by crashing on someone’s couch. Go camping.
I often hear people say that the cost of sightseeing is too high. Is it, though? Do your homework. Cities across the globe have a ton of free activities and things to see. Many people have written blog posts about specific places; check out How to do New York on a Budget as an example. What about the cost of food? I can honestly tell you that I have survived 10 days in Vietnam eating only an egg for breakfast and half a tube of Pringles for dinner. Every day. For 10 days. Healthy? No. Ideal? Definitely not. But I chose that so that I could use the very little money I had to go see Halong Bay.
Your Idea of Travel
Now maybe that’s not your idea of a holiday. I know that for many people, that’s not how they want to travel. And that’s absolutely fine, I get that. But that’s a choice. So then people aren’t prevented from travelling because they don’t have the money or the resources. They don’t travel because the circumstances or means of travel that they can afford aren’t appealing to them. It comes down to personal preference. It’s not actually “I can’t afford to travel.” The truth is more like, “I’m choosing not to travel because I can’t afford to travel the way I want.” There’s a big difference between the two.
Travel is a Privilege
Yes it is. I am privileged to have travelled as much as I have. Sometimes I was given the opportunity, and sometimes I made my own opportunities. But that does not in any way mean that travel is only for the privileged. Conversations about travel are not classist. Sharing travel stories does not make us snobs. For me, travel is a passion; a deeply rooted desire that will be achieved, whatever it takes. If others aren’t able to make sacrifices or find ways to make it happen, that’s completely fine; maybe the desire to travel just isn’t as fierce in them. Their passion lies elsewhere. Our individual differences are what makes us all special. But in today’s world, travel is not only for the world’s elite.
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