Let's Stop Claiming Everyone Can Travel

Let’s Stop Claiming Everyone Can Travel & Shaming Those Who Don’t

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.

If you will like to join TheUfuoma community, subscribe hereNew posts every Fridays.

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,

About the author

Working Professional by day, Travel Blogger by night. Here, I share my personal life and travel experiences as well as helpful tips to help readers start their own travel journey. Want to talk? Contact me on info@theufuoma.com. Don’t be a stranger!

37 Comments

  1. I completely agree with you and lately the trend of shaming people who haven’t traveled much around the world has grown so much. Yes not every one can travel because not everyone is privileged to do so and as humans we ought to be more compassionate towards each other and not such jerks. It is so amazing of you to have volunteered in Peru and experienced people’s hardships first hand. More power to you and keep spreading positivity. 🙂

  2. I can tell you feel passionately about this! I agree, so many of us take for granted that traveling is a privilege, thank you for writing this candid and moving post!

  3. Thanks for sharing this. I fell into that trap of watching everyone else and became so depressed. I finally said, “We’ll if I don’t have the vacation time and fund to go far, I’ll stay closer to home”. I started to take weekend DayTrips around my state. It’s been so much fun.

  4. You articulated this so well Ufuoma. Travel really is still a privilege. I mean, some people can scrimp and save as much as they want, and still will just be scraping by in their every-day lives. I’m always grateful that I get to travel and I don’t think that those who have seen more of the world are any more worldly than others. Everyone experiences the world differently.

  5. You brought up a lot of great points! It’s important to keep in mind that not everyone is able to travel. Many people can’t because of work or family commitments or financial problems. We should never shame anyone or make them feel inferior for not being able to travel.

  6. This was a really interesting article that I really enjoyed reading! I’ve never really thought about it before – coming from the UK with lots of cheap airlines, I just kind of assume everyone can afford to jet off for a weekend if they want to. Your article was really insightful 🙂

  7. Ufuoma, thank you for writing this!! I love to travel. I feel travel has added depth and perspective to my life that it wouldn’t have otherwise. But that doesn’t mean others don’t achieve depth and perspective in their life in ways I don’t invest in, and that is just as valid. Maybe moreso in their life.

    Also, your point about the responsibilities of life rings so true to me, it honestly got me misty-eyed. I have a teen daughter who spent ages 11 to 14 with a horrible pain condition and having multiple brain surgeries. Our travel was literally coast to coast here in the US to see neurosurgeons. She’s doing much better, but it still has consequences in our life. Even without that, I have one daughter who is a competitive horse jumper, and the other is a competitive archer who shot in nationals this year. My life has not been one that I can pick up go to another country the way I really would like to without requiring those around me to give up their dreams. For now, this, home, must be my focus, and I understand and value that.

    It doesn’t mean I don’t dip my toe in the travel life every chance I get, and that I don’t hope it is a major part of my future though. 🙂 Thank you so much for your thoughts here.

  8. This is such a refreshing perspective on traveling. It is definitely a privilege to have the means to securely and safely travel. It’s the same thing with deciding to be an entrepreneur–not everyone wants to run their own business and that’s perfectly okay! I’m bookmarking this post for sure 🙂

  9. This is so true. And responsibilities are real! Not everyone can travel. And we can learn a lot even from our daily interactions with people from different cultures. Well done for writing this! X

    http://www.KacheeTee.com

  10. This is an amazing post and I have to admit that I have been guilty of “measuring” people based on how well traveled or not they are because I believed that traveling and experiencing many cultures can bring open mindedness and while that is true so many things can bring open-mindedness without stepping out of your country. Thank you for shedding light on this topic, it has made me see things from a whole different perspective.

    1. Travel can definitely bring a great degree of open-mindedness. It’s a great experience but not the only way to be open-minded. Some people travel and stay the same, some stay home and gain more insight. It boils down to the individual, really. It’s just really important to strive for a life of fulfillment and that looks different for different people.

      Thanks Alimah.

  11. Really true. I am that one person that don’t see travel as a way of life because of the circumstances I find myself. I travel once a year. But the truth is that some people can’t afford to travel even for just once. They are stalked. I live in the so called third world country where 10% of the populace only afford to travel 3 times a year. Nice piece. Great sense of humor and really it was insightful.

    1. Thanks for reading. I genuinely hope that people live their dreams, whatever that looks like for them. It’ll get better.

      Thanks Anthonio.

  12. The pressure is real. Well done for using your platform to educate and inspire. Very well said.

  13. I cannot stress more than you have how important this message is.

    You brought up salient points, but to pick on one aspect which is what I think some travel quotes typically insinuate, travel is not the only way to enrich your life/ live your best life. Is it one way? sure, can it have several benefits? yes. However, it is not the be all, end all.

    There are other opportunities to live, learn and grow and life looks different for different people. So wether or not you can buy a plane ticket should not be a determinant of how well you’re trying to live your life.

    This is an insightful post.

    1. Oooh absolutely! Life certainly looks different for different people. Let’s respect their choices.
      Thanks Tiese!

  14. This is an important conversation that needed to be had. There’s always something. You’re either being looked down on for not traveling at all, for not traveling so much or for traveling so much but not been very rugged about it. I want to stay in a hotel and not a hostel, how does it make me any less of an avid traveler? There’s so much classism going on in the world and it’s such a shame that something as great as travel is starting to become one of them. This entire behaviour made me recline a bit from the travel blogosphere. I know sometimes it is not intentional but the message needs to be changed.

    Wonderful post, as usual. I can definitely relate with this one as I have been both the traveler and the non-traveler at some point in my life.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    -Inge

    1. Love this comment! And so true! Been “rugged” is usually equated with being a real traveler and that’s not true. People have their preferences.
      Thanks for reading, Inge.

  15. Yessss!! It takes heart and real open-mindedness to have this perspective. Thank you so much for sharing this. #Truth #TruthInTravel

  16. Really beautiful post and I totally understand your perspective, especially as someone that lived in Nigeria most of my life.

    In my case, I think I’ve just been really lazy and I always seem to have other top priorities. I also think that the 3 countries I’ve visited is enough for now. But, certainly, like I told you, I’m working towards a trip for later this year and let’s see how it goes.

    I enjoyed reading this. Thanks for sharing!

    http://www.zinnyfactor.com

  17. Thank you for the transparency! I wholeheatedly agree and I have nothing to add as you have said what needs to be said.

    —–>>>New subscriber<<<———

Leave a reply

%d bloggers like this: