I love to travel. I love to talk about travel, I love to read about travel, and I love to hear about the places people have been and their experiences. I have been having a blast planning and making reservations for our upcoming Big Adventure. Recently though I’ve been thinking about how very privileged we are to be able to do something like this.
Brett and I have been saving every penny possible for over a year now to make this trip happen. We’re selling most of our household goods, and giving up our life in Hawai’i in order to go around the world for almost a year. We have an income that will support us, and allow us to save a little as well (hopefully) while we’re on the road. If that isn’t privileged I don’t know what is.
It would be very easy for me to say, “We worked hard to be where we are today. We deserve this” and leave it at that. But the reality is LOTS of people, here in the U.S. and all over the world, have worked hard their whole lives, or are still working hard, and cannot afford even the simplest bit of travel. Brett and I are lucky – even with some ups and downs through the years things have worked out well for us. However, I’m reminded of an anthropology professor who once said that the concept of “hard work” never exists in isolation, that some people come from circumstances or are provided opportunities that don’t or will never happen for others, opportunities that at their least enhance or support effort, but often open doors to even better things. Over the years Brett and I have both been given opportunities and chances that, along with hard work, have made our current life possible.
If we can afford to travel, whether it’s one vacation a year to the next state over or by selling everything we own to travel around the world, we are coming from a place of privilege. I’ve written that it’s not impossible to save for travel, but I also know that might be a whole lot harder or not possible if one is poor, or receiving food or other social assistance, or is working two (or more) jobs and can’t afford to take time off, or is weighted down by crushing student debt, or is in poor health and facing (or trying to pay) high medical bills.
And, travel can also be far more difficult to undertake if one is a person of color, identifies as LGBTQ, or has a disability.
Travel is a consumer good (no one travels for free), but it seems sometimes as if it’s been put on a pedestal and is being offered as something else. However, whether one is traveling on a budget or whether money is no object, it’s worth remembering that travel is something that’s not available to everyone, at any price.
Brett and I are LUCKY that we can afford to even dream about, let alone prepare for and make our Big Adventure. In our case it has meant careful planning, months and months of saving, and following every penny closely, but our ability to travel is a privilege, and we don’t ever want to forget it.