A friend of mine recently shared this post on Facebook: “Your Obsession With Travel Sure Feels Classist To Me“.
The post sparked some indignant comments about how the “bitter” and “whiny” writer sounded for attacking people who love to travel.
The commenters took offense to being compared with “entitled yoga-panters” who had enough money to make travel easy, and began listing all the things they’d done for the chance to be travelers, such as working extra jobs, scouring the web for cheap deals, and relying on connections to keep their costs down.
But after reading the article myself, I had to admit…I could kind of see her point.
Travel (or vacation, really) has historically been a “privileged” act, a means for the upper classes to alleviate boredom.
For the less fortunate, it was often a last resort: to avoid war or natural disasters, or to find work to provide for family at home.
Today, travel is cheaper, easier, faster, and much more accessible.
…Or even for free?
Sure. I mean, Michael Wigge managed it!
But the fact remains that not everyone can afford to travel.
Even here in America, many of us don’t have jobs with paid vacation, can’t afford to take time off, or save for anything other than the basic necessities.
That’s right! As a lower middle-class freelancer with zero benefits and a tight budget, I fit ALL THREE of those categories.
Vacation can’t always be a priority.
And this is coming from someone who has been a traveler since she was a baby. After all, I spent a good portion of my childhood bouncing around different cultures. For me, travel is more of a way of life than a hobby, and while I truly do believe that world travel is possible for anyone and I’d enthusiastically recommend it, I see where Katherine is coming from.
But consider this…people travel for more reasons than one.
For many of us, travel is not a “real vacation”, a “hobby”, or something to blow our savings on.
It’s a link to family.
It’s a reason to keep working 40, 50, or 60+ hours just to pay the bills.
It’s the only way we feel truly at home.
I’m not saying we can’t be insufferable about it (trust me, I get tired of the stories too!), what I AM saying is that the attitude towards travel varies from person to person.
Katherine’s experience may not have been great, and I’m sorry for the kids who made fun of her and caused her to be self-conscious.
(Confession: my classmates would make fun of my accent and said the reason I was late to class was because I was “chasing zebras”, when in fact my British-African mum was sick a lot and couldn’t always get us to school on time).
…BUT, I don’t think she should ashamed of where she has (or hasn’t) been at all!
One of my favourite travel writers, Henry Walden Thoreau, never left the States either, but boy, did he know how to draw you into his experiences! Whether your type of travel is home-bound (out of necessity or desire), local or world-wide, the ability to enter into someone else’s world, even for a little while, is an experience that we all crave.
Sometimes, travel isn’t a “privileged” act at all, but simply, a privilege.