“You don’t need to be rich to travel,” “anyone can travel if you make it a priority.” These are the famous lines that seemingly every traveler and travel blogger uses. I am definitely guilty myself. But when I say these things, they are pretty much only true for the other privileged people.
I wrote a previous blog post about how I don’t like to tell people I’m traveling because I feel like they are jealous and “rain on my parade.” I said these things because I didn’t want to admit to myself that the real reason I can travel is because of how privileged I am. Isn’t it easier to think that I worked for all of it? That I deserve it? I would love to think that but it’s just not true.
I really don’t pay for much on my own. I’m 22, live at home, and don’t pay rent. I don’t pay for my cell phone bill or car insurance either. I didn’t have to pay for my bachelor’s degree, so I am not in debt. My family is all healthy and there is no one that needs me there to take care of them. I am American, white, and healthy. If I were to get sick, I have enough family that I would be taken care of and would never be alone on the streets. I am beyond privileged. And a year ago, I would have never had the humility to have been able to say that.
I come from a family who owns property and stock shares. I come from a family who believes that hard work will lead to success. I come from a family who doesn’t give anything to poor people on the street because they think they’re probably lying about being poor. This is the way that I was raised to think and now, at 22 years old, I have finally realized that I am standing on the shoulders of their success. Sometimes no matter how hard you work, you will never be rich. I have friends that work harder than anyone I know, but have to spend the money I would use on a European summer to support their family. They have to give money to their family, and I just take from my family. Thinking about this made the privilege I have so obvious to me.
It seems to me that everyone who travels wants to share about how they worked so hard to be able to travel. Which in many cases is true, but it’s not as simple as just working hard. What about the people who are discriminated against for being of color, the people who have to stay at home and work to support their family, and the people who don’t have a great family to financially or emotionally support them? No amount of hard work will allow them as much ease to travel as I have.
I am so grateful for the life I live, and I hope I never take a second of it for granted, because I am one of the lucky ones and I am privileged.