This a big, heavy topic, but I’m certainly not qualified to speak on this topic in any sort of academic way. But for the past five years I’ve been writing and blogging about my experiences in Spain. At first I read other small-time bloggers, but I soon became aware of a much wider circle in travel blogging. You know who I mean—the eternal travelers. These people seem to be living a dream (well, not my dream, but certainly they are the envy of many others): They travel to new sites constantly, they get free hotel stays, they bungee jump off bridges in Australia … You get the picture. These people are paid to travel the world. And I’m happy for them! What an experience!
Nonetheless, I would like to refute some claims by some bloggers that this is an achievable dream for everyone. No more excuses, they say! I quit my boring desk job, and look at me now!
In a way this is true for me. I was working at a rather boring office job, and I quit, and I came to Spain! Wow, what an inspiration! I am so different from my peers … While perhaps I’d like to think I’m extra special (and oh, okay, my mom might too), I know that every year, just in Spain, there are literally thousands of auxiliares de conversación who come here to teach English travel around Europe.
I had the comfort of knowing I had help, should I need it. I knew that if I failed miserably, I could go back to the U.S., and move right back in with my parents. I had a car that they kept around in their garage. I had my grandparents, my cousins, my aunts and uncles, and even friends who would have taken me in had things gone south. Nowadays I even have people in Spain who would be that backbone for me. I am lucky; moreover, I am privileged.
Do you know anyone who earns below the federal poverty guidelines? Do you imagine that those people can travel? Should they also quit their boring “desk jobs”? I’m sure many of them wish they had a boring desk job, because boring desk jobs generally allow one to earn enough money to live somewhat comfortably. What about single moms with no family or financial support coming? What about someone with a disability? Are those people not living their “best lives” because they haven’t packed up their entire lives to travel the world?
Remember, most of us travel bloggers are white, middle-class, and from rich countries like the U.S., Canada, England, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, etc. And that’s just English-speaking countries. Most of us come from nice families who would support us if we failed. Most of us have never had to worry where our next meal would come from. I always try to remember that when speaking about my experiences.
Let’s not forget that traveling is one goal in life. A good goal, a valuable goal, a goal I totally understand. But it’s just one goal. Like I wrote earlier, not everyone shares that. Sometimes I get all wrapped up in what I think I want for me that I forget that others may not share my goals of having a family or a garden or just not living in a big city. (Some people want to live in a high-rise apartment building in Madrid, and that’s okay. Just not me.)
So hey, if you want to travel, and you can travel, go for it. Do it. Live your dream. Just don’t presume to know what everyone can do or should do. We’re all different, and if Sesame Street taught me anything, that’s a-okay.
Other interesting reads about this topic: