Today’s post is one I have wanted to write for sometime now but I just couldn’t articulate properly. It wasn’t until recently that I made another attempt at the umpteenth time and voila, the words started to flow. This one’s for all my travel lovers, world travelers, travel enthusiasts, nomads, ajalas (as we’ll say in Nigeria) and to you. Yes, you.
I grew up in a third-world country where some people had no clue where their next meal was coming from. While this might be foreign for some, these are real life issues. This really put life in perspective for me and has helped me to stay grateful for everything, including travel.
You see, I have been really really fortunate to have seen some cool places in my lifetime and the other day, I tweeted about how I had my best travel year in 2015 when I saw 14 countries and 46 cities, months before I started a travel blog. I also pointed out that I had fewer responsibilities, lived in a shared apartment at the time and was not “pressured” by having a travel blog. I traveled because I could and I wanted to and it was fun.
However, this is 2017 and a lot has changed. Travel has become much more commercialized, more travel bloggers are evolving and more people are hitting the road. This is great and I love it but it also comes with a burden of its own. Everywhere you turn to (especially on Social Media), you are met with messaging such as, “The world is a book and those who do not travel see it from one page”, “I am not the same having seen the sun set on the other side of the world”, “Quit your job and travel the world”. Not going to lie, I am guilty of using at least one of these quotes but I have slowly learned that they might be quite frankly, misleading.
Now what’s the problem?
These messages can create the false impression that people who do not travel must be doing something wrong with their lives, without taking into consideration that there might be several reasons why an individual cannot travel. For example, bad health, lack of funds, or simply, a lack of desire to travel which is very okay. I know how easy it is to fall into the trap of over-selling travel especially as a travel blogger like me. However, I want us to take a moment to remember not to shame people who do not travel either by choice or circumstance and very importantly, not to claim that everyone can travel because that is simply not true. I’ll tell you why.
TRAVEL IS NOT ONLY ABOUT WILLPOWER
Certain people believe that those who do not travel simply do not want it badly enough and I call bull on that one. (Pardon my French.) As a travel blogger, I have written tons of tips to help people travel smarter. Some of them include cost-saving tips like cutting down on eating out, cooking at home, etc. However, if you can’t do it, you simply can’t. There are people who just don’t have anything else to cut down on and it will be misleading and unfair to say that travel is all about having the willpower to do so. Willpower does not automatically translate into money, or good health or fewer responsibilities, these things that are essential to make travel happen. I wish it did but then again, that’s life.
TRAVEL REMAINS A PRIVILEGE
Life is a privilege and travel, even more so. To travel, it means that you have a certain degree of mobility, you have time and you have spare money, no matter how little. It means you woke up one day and had breath in your lungs. Let us treat travel as just that, a privilege. Not everyone can travel and it will be very insensitive to shame or look down on people who cannot travel for whatever reason.
Now, this is not me putting a cap on what people can or cannot do, who am I to? I just want people to know that it is a privilege to be able to do certain things and this is unfortunately not something everyone can boast of.
PEOPLE ARE TRYING
…Trying to live their best lives, trying to survive. I lived in Peru for three months where I volunteered at a small town school and it was a real eye-opening experience for me to see children who were struggling to get by on the barest minimum. I am talking food, clothes, and education. It is not at the very top of their minds to go to a foreign country to experience a new culture or to meet new people. They are trying to make do with what little they have and hope for better to come.
REAL PEOPLE, REAL RESPONSIBILITIES
The mortgage is due soon, student debt needs to be paid off, the diapers are running out, school will soon be in session which means that it is time to pay the fees. Life is full of countless responsibilities and travel is not as easy as going to Starbucks to order a Cafe Mocha (I wish it were!) It costs some real money and forging ahead with this irresponsible messaging can lead people into a real mess. It will be horrible and careless to ignore more important life responsibilities because you wanted to travel the world.
OUR PRIORITIES ARE DIFFERENT
And that’s okay. I don’t care about boxing but to Anthony Joshua, it’s his world and he could fork out thousands of dollars on his boxing gear because that is a priority for him. Let’s respect people and their priorities in life. If they choose to build their careers instead of quitting their jobs and traveling the world, leave them to do so.
YOU ARE NOT BETTER THAN ANYONE BECAUSE YOU HAVE STEPPED FOOT SOMEWHERE ELSE
You are not more cultured or more aware than the next person because you have seen the other size of the world. I joked around in this post that just because I have stared at the Eiffel Tower for 15 minutes does not mean I now understand global issues, it certainly takes a lot more. So, let’s stop sizing people based on the number of stamps they have on their passport. As if the world wasn’t classist enough.
TRAVEL IS NOT THE ONLY WAY TO LEAD A FULFILLING LIFE
Now, travel is pretty much amazing and I am such a strong advocate but it is not the only way to live a truly fulfilling life. It is not the be all and end all of life. There are several ways to live a great life outside of travel. C’mon! Look around you, some of the people touching lives and changing the world are not globe trotters, let’s not act like it is a cure to cancer.
I know how contradictory it might be to say all of these things as a travel blogger but I have lived my life on both sides of the table. In 2014, only three years ago, I couldn’t care less about traveling but fast forward to today, it’s one of my biggest interests and I also have a blog dedicated to its course so I really do understand how it feels to be in both shoes. I am grateful for my life before travel and it’ll be a shame to forget where I came from.
In general though, I’m glad to have finally gotten this one out. Regardless of what side of the table you are on, I’ll love to hear your thoughts on this subject so as usual, drop your comments in the section below and let’s talk this one out.
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PS: I am all for taking the opportunities when they come, so if you get to the point where you can afford to travel, don’t think twice about it, jet, set, go.
See you next Friday,