Travelling can have an immense positive impact on a person’s life. It broadens the mind, changes outlooks and perspectives on life. The potential exposure to new ideas, customs and beliefs can all lead to a personal growth.
Travel changed my life. From living and studying overseas at the age of 18, to marrying my husband in our favourite holiday destination. It has taught me about the world, the people in it, and myself. It has shown me that there is an amazing enomorous world out there and that I am capable of surviving in it.
Travelling has made me more aware of cultural sensitive topics and more tolerant and accepting of others. I appreciate different languages more. I am more open to the challenges of people in their home country. I appreciate the humbleness and authenticity of real people.
By making sense of behaviours and customs that I didn’t understand, I have received an education outside the classroom. I think this is why I have such an issue with parents not being able to take their kids out of school for the last day of term for holidays. I understand during term and exam time, but for a child in primary school on the last day when they will be watching videos or playing games?
I truly feel privileged enough to have had the opportunity and means to be able to travel. The harsh truth is that travel is simply not a commodity for all. There are a number of reasons why travel may not be feasible for all.
Family reasons and obligations can take precedence, especially in the event that the would-be traveller is a full time carer for someone. Some people are managing several jobs just to pay the bills, and as much as they want to jack it all in for a round the world adventure, it’s just not possible. Willpower and want to travel do not make it easy to disregard responsibilities, no matter how positive the mindset.
The country you are born in, or hold a passport for, can limit where you can travel to. With the number of restrictions to travel to USA increasing, it can limit the travelling opportunities. This is also the case for people with previous criminal convictions, with Australia, New Zealand and USA limiting travel. For countries where the currency is strong, some destinations can be really cheap (when I lived in New Zealand it was $3 to £1) but for non-first world countries, international travel is a real luxury because of the costs.
Money. This is the kicker. Who can quit their job and travel for a year when you are saving for a house or have a mortgage to pay (in London!). Yes, travel is great way to treat yourself and there are budgeting tips and hacks, but there are always going to be costs. Student debts and loans and lowing paying jobs just don’t add up. The need for financial stability upon your return home can make it difficult to leave in the first place.
Disabilities and chronic conditions can limit the ability to travel. Some places are not wheelchair friendly or suitable for those with reduced mobility. Some patients that I work with struggle to get travel insurance for their conditions. The idea of planning a trip in itself can be stressful for some with metal health conditions. Some people with severe allergies will not get dietary requirements they need in certain locations.
As much as travel can make people more tolerant, there is still discrimination. Whether this is discrimination based on race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, there are some places that it is inadvisable to visit. I am white, and I acknowledge that my white British privilege allows me quickly through customs with a thought as to whether I may be a violent criminal or terrorist (FYI, I am neither of these). Staying safe while travelling is so important and discrimination (or perceived discrimination) can limit travel opportunities.
I am grateful that I can fill up our passports with stamps and we need to stop shaming those who don’t travel. Different levels of privilege enable us to see the world and we need to stop rubbing it in the face of others. Travel isn’t something that they should just “set their mind” and it needs to be a realistic option for those that want it.