But, I don’t have a trust fund, how can that be? If you are from a developed nation, you may take your privilege for granted. I know I did. Especially considering that a U.S. passport alone is literally like having a golden ticket. United States citizens can enter most countries either visa-free or with a free visa. In contrast, a person with a Mexican passport has to pay upwards of $100 to enter the U.S. A person from Egypt can have a visa denied for no reason. I have never worried about being allowed to enter a country, and that in itself is a privilege that billions of other people just don’t have. There are places in this world that won’t welcome you if you are gay, trans, POC, etc… If you have a disability, your access will be limited. Aside from issues of access, travel can often be expensive, and many people simply do not have the funds or the ability to take off work necessary for travel. Travel is a privilege, so if you can afford to travel the world, be grateful.
It makes me very sad that everyone who wants to travel can’t, and I am incredibly grateful that I am privileged enough to be able to. I hope this changes, and I am confident it will.
Over 30 Million U.S. Citizens Live in Poverty
It is a sad fact that even though the U.S. is the richest country in the world, we have a poverty problem. According to U.S. Census data, the official poverty rate in 2018 was 11.8%, and it is arguable that that official rate understates true poverty in the United States. To the ~30 million people who live in official poverty in the United States, plus many millions more, travel is nothing but a dream.
For many undocumented Americans, including “dreamers” brought here by their parents, they are literally trapped in the United States with no passport or ability to safely travel abroad and return.
Nearly 1/2 of the world’s population — more than 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day.
For people who live in poverty, just the ability to live is a privilege for them. In fact, poverty claims 22,000 people every day. There are a staggering number of people who are illiterate. I met someone from a developing nation that was brilliant, but because he was illiterate, could only work as a tour guide. It broke my heart. I hope that people will find this post in 100 years and wonder how this was possible.
Being Able To Save Money Is A Privilege
I wrote a whole post on how I saved money so I could quit my job and travel. I didn’t really think of my ability to save as a privilege, but it was. I thought I would be privileged if I had a trust fund or wealthy parents to foot the bill (which I didn’t). However, I was incredibly lucky to not have mountains of student debt, to have a job where I made a living wage, to have affordable housing, to have the time to do side projects, to not have ill parents to take care of, and quality education, among many advantages.
Being A Pretty White American Is A Privilege, Most of The Time…
Someone once told me of the “cutie factor”: it is when people help you, want to pay for you, and offer things to you because you are a pretty Western girl. The most recent example is when I entered back into the U.S. I was expecting to be interrogated or at least asked about my time in Lebanon and Egypt. They stamped and sent me right through. No questions asked.
There are places that treat POC, LGBTQ, and disabled people very differently than I would have been treated. And despite my relative privilege, as a woman, I was treated as a second class citizen sometimes. I was often asked “where is your husband?”
Appreciate Your Travels, and Don’t Rub It In
If you do have the opportunity to safely travel, appreciate it. Remember that many Americans, and many people outside of the United States, never have the opportunity to have this experience. Also remember, if you are active on social media, that many people you may be connected with may not have such a privilege, and may feel that any posts advertising your travels are a form of bragging about what to them may feel like a luxury they cannot afford.