“Everyone Can Travel”

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!

IMG_4786In 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:

Eat, Pray, Spend
No, Not Everyone Can Travel
Travel and Social Privilege

15 thoughts on ““Everyone Can Travel”

  1. I count my blessings every day that I have parents who could, and would, help me if I ever needed it. They expect me to be able to take care of myself here, but would never let me starve or want for anything. I would not have been able to come if it had not been for my mother offering to put my plane ticket on her credit card….I paid her half when the bill came in, and will pay the other half when I go home for Christmas. I know that I am extremely lucky in this regard. I am comfortable saying that I could never do this if I didn’t know that I had them to fall back on should I run into hard times. I’m not quite that brave.

  2. My parents passed away when I was 8. I grew up with my maternal Grandmother. She worked hard to give me a good education. I was the only cousin in the family to go to University. When I got my degrees (B.A.& M.A.) in Spanish and TESOL I knew I wanted to come to Spain. My Grandmother supported me and I moved over here in 1995. She passed away in 1998 but I go home every summer to remember where I came from. My point is, set yourself a goal and go for it….if you are determined nothing can stand in your way. Be happy and enjoy life!

  3. Well said Kaley. I really respect that you write on topics like these. It’s easy for travel bloggers to fall into the trap of thinking they’re somehow better/braver than the rest of the boring world because they made the decision to travel. Most all of them have safety nets though as you mentioned. There are plenty of other character building/worldview expanding choices people can make for their lives.

  4. I really do think the “anyone can travel!” mantra is becoming less trendy in the travel blogging community as people become more aware of the concept of privilege. Thank you for spreading the word!

  5. YES. Thank you for pointing this out on your blog. It’s always annoying when people writes posts like “Stop making excuses!!!!! Just get out and tRaVeL!!!~~”…like, check yo privilege. Great post that sheds some light on a little-discussed topic.

    1. ^^ This. The only thing that grinds my gears more than those kinds of post are ones about student loans that recommend just “putting them off” to travel and posts like “I saved up 12,000 in one year to travel and you can too!”. Not everyone has the luxury of being able to sleep in their childhood bedroom…

  6. It’s great to keep in mind that there are lots of other important goals in life besides just traveling. I think a lot of times people at home daydream about how great their life would be “if only…” or “one day…” and miss out on the chance to do things that would make them happier in their everyday lives. Try new restaurants, meet new people, look for events happening in their hometown, try new hobbies, etc.

  7. So true. Traveling is a privilege, and not everyone’s priority. I love traveling, but in life there are so many other things that matter…

  8. I’m really glad you posted this. I’ve always really despised the “you can do it, too!” posts that assume everyone’s in a privileged position. Personally, I’m like you – I have extremely (overly) supportive parents. I know that if I travel, I can always “come home”. They make sure I always have a place in their home, and probably always will, even if I get married. Most people aren’t like that. Most people’s parents can’t afford to be like that. So, it really irritates me when bloggers can’t acknowledge their own luck when discussing the topic.

    I will add one thing – I’m not white (I’m an in-between, I don’t identify as a single colour). I do have white friends who don’t have this privilege, either. I feel like regardless of your skin colour or ethnic background, having the kind of parents who will help you out in this way is extremely rare. In my case, I’m considered an anomaly because most girls from my background just aren’t given the total support to travel the world on their own for other reasons. It’s something for travel bloggers to think about before making blank statements about our own restrictions!

  9. This is an interesting post–coming from a black woman who has followed your blog for years (first time commenter), lived in Malaga (with Spanish partner) for 3 years, and haven’t done the whole must-see-all-of-Europe thing.

    I always find myself having mixed opinions about this. On the one hand, I was privileged enough move to Spain after college and could have even traveled extensively if I had chosen to. On the other, most people assume that people like me can’t. I sometimes felt like an alien–black girl doing the “white girl” thing of living in Europe, being with a Spaniard, etc. I think that what it boils down to is the fact that most travel bloggers (black, white, male, female, anything) fail to acknowledge their privilege. Maybe the “about me” sections should include the following: In year 20XX I decided to quite the job I hated, saved for a year and moved to Europe, Latam, Asia, etc… (but by the way my parents make six figures so I did this knowing that I didn’t have to pay student loans because they paid for college and they’d catch me if I fell). Of course, this is a bit extreme, but just ONE LINE could really help to clarify that really, not everyone can travel.

    Lastly, another point for another day, but “travel” is not only about overseas find-myself trips. Trips from Malaga to Benalauria (pueblo in Ronda), from NYC to Rhode Island, or even from Paris to Poitou-Charentes can be equally as rewarding.

    1. Is this the Nedra I think it is? Dson College Nedra?? I can’t believe you ended up back in Malaga! And you’re still with the same guy you met while we were abroad? That is amazing.

      Anyways I agree with everything Nedra (so crazy that I actually know somebody else who reads your blog!) said and everything in your post Kaley. I’m from a privileged background. I would never have been able to study abroad or do my MA in Madrid without my parents’ support. I like to share my travels on my blog but I also don’t do the type of posts of “If I can do it, you can too!” When I did my MA, most of the students had to take out loans to the program and are now currently paying them back. I was one of the few who did not. I realize I was very, very lucky. And that’s why I don’t bother with the “If I can travel, anybody can!” I’m privileged and I recognize that.

      I’ve had to unfollow a few bloggers because of the whole “Here’s how you can travel too!” posts. I realize some people are coming from a genuine place and want to share how they did it with others which can encourage other people who may think they can’t travel. But some of those posts can be patronizing. And not everybody who can travel wants to.

      Maybe you should lead a panel on this at the next TBEX or something. I think a few bloggers could learn a thing or two.

  10. You bring up a lot of good points, and I definitely agree with you. I try to remember to count my blessings daily, because not everyone has the luxury to “quit their job to travel the world”. Just because I came from a background that allowed me to do so doesn’t mean that everyone else can. I think more people in the blogging/online community should acknowledge this, so thank you for the thought-provoking read!

What do YOU think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s