Travel is a Privilege. Let’s Stop Pretending it Isn’t

The internet is filled with motivational quotes painted over stock images of sunsets and beach promenades telling you that the best thing you can do with your life is to stop what you are currently doing and travel. If you’re not travelling, what is the purpose of your existence exactly? If you can’t drop everything and make travel your priority, there must be something that you are doing wrong to prohibit yourself having those experiences, right?

Travel is a Privilege
Punakha Dzong, Western Bhutan

I’m a Travel Blogger, I know. Is there some element of hypocrisy in my argument? I don’t think so. I want to encourage everyone out there to embrace their sense of wanderlust and to realise the options at their feet that can enable them to discover this beautiful world around us but more than that, I want them to realise just how lucky they are to witness and experience every travel moment. To watch every majestic sunset, to hike every mountain, and to cross every country off their bucket list.

Our social media and Instagram feeds may be littered with travel inspiration, but for every glamorous globetrotter, there are many more people sitting at home whose paths in life will never afford them the luxury of travelling the world.

Your Country of Birth is a Privilege

Travel is a Privilege
Istanbul, Turkey

As a British Citizen, my passport is one of the strongest in the world. It enables me access to over 170 countries on this earth without any requirement for a visa. Were I African, Indian, or Arabic however, that number would be drastically reduced. For citizens of some nations. not only are visas required for travel to many countries, they are also incredibly difficult to obtain.

Most western travellers don’t realise how lucky they are to breeze through international borders unquestioned, undisturbed, and alerting no suspicion. I am a young, white western female. I never attract concerns that I could be a terrorist or that I may be a danger somehow to people around me. Though it definitely should not, our nationality can impact the way that we are perceived globally.

Your Socioeconomic Status is a Privilege

Travel is a Privilege
Seoul, South Korea

I hear many a traveller boasting about how “cheap” countries like those in Southeast Asia or Eastern Europe are to travel to and I shudder every. single. time. To you, they may be cheap, oh western, disposable income rich traveller. But to the citizens of those countries the prices there are decidedly not cheap. In fact, not only are they not cheap, to some people they are actually very expensive.

Not everyone can just quit their jobs or cut that one cup of Starbucks coffee out of their daily routine so that they can afford to travel. Across the world, the global median household income is less than $10,000 per year. Think about that.

Your Health is a Privilege

Travel is a Privilege
Druk Wangyel Tshechu, Bhutan

We take for granted how lucky we are to be able-bodied, fit and healthy. This point doesn’t just relate to travel but in all aspects of our lives. We preoccupy our minds with things that don’t really matter – comparing our Instagram lives to someone else’s, worrying about what other people think of us, and always wanting more than we have. To be in good health and able to get up and go to the other side of the world is indeed a privilege and one that could always be retracted later on in the future.

You may argue with me and tell me that you worked hard to afford your travel experiences. As did I. I grew up in a working-class family in the UK. When I was younger, my parents couldn’t afford to buy us new clothes let alone take us on exotic trips, so I studied hard, graduated university and saved every penny so that I could travel the world. I even taught English in Korea, worked at call centres in Australia and worked in hostels in California for minimum wage to fund my trips. However, I also realise that there are many others who would never be presented with the same opportunities.

I hate the entitled attitude towards travelling that seems to exist in a lot of the travel blogging industry. If you can travel anywhere, you are among a privileged few. I don’t want to berate anyone, but simply to make them realise that we should never be ungrateful for the opportunities we have for travel or to take them for granted.

Until next time.
Safe Travels,

Melissa xo

Melissa Douglas

Melissa Douglas is a British Travel Writer and Blogger based in Athens, Greece. She writes for numerous high profile travel publications across the globe - including Forbes Travel Guide, Matador Network, The Times of Israel and The Huffington Post.

2 thoughts on “Travel is a Privilege. Let’s Stop Pretending it Isn’t”

  1. This is soooo important to call out, thank you for posting! It drives me nuts seeing those quotes or posts about how the reason some people aren’t traveling is because they essentially don’t want it enough, but like you said, theres a lot of privilege with passports, money, and health that some people don’t think about.

  2. Hi Melissa, I absolutely hear you and agree with every word you wrote in this post. I think it is exactly up to us travel bloggers to raise awareness not only about just another pretty place, but how lucky we can be if we ever have the chance to go there. Being grateful is so important as in some societies traveling is just one of the many things being taken for granted. If you are grateful there is a higher likelyhood to actually experience a place or a culture and to treat it more mindfully. Thank you for this post, thank you for sharing!

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