A certain blog post has been making the rounds around the travel blogger community lately. If you haven’t already read it, I encourage you to do so. The short version is that travelers in the West push this idea that “everyone can travel”; however, this premise just is not true.
First off all, even the most frugal daily budget tossed out by Western bloggers is still quite lavish by the standards of the vast majority of the people in the world. Thus, while Westerners can vow to cut back on lattes, cable TV, and other extras in order to fund our travel dreams, many people in the world could work their entire lives, save every possible penny, and still not be able to amass enough money to take off and see the world.
Even if money is not an issue, we Westerners (and I assume that most of the people reading now are Westerners) have another major advantage: our passports. With them, we can enter many countries without issue at all. At the very least, in most cases, by digging deeply enough into our wallets, we can guarantee ourselves access to most countries in the world with little hassle. For people living in non-Western countries, the hoops that they have to jump through to get a visa may be nearly or completely insurmountable, or their passports may not be eligible for international travel at all (whether by virtue of their home country’s dictates or due to the prohibitions of their destination country’s prohibitions).
I have to admit, the blog post’s message definitely got to me. On the one hand, I do recognize how lucky I am on the passport front. I have said that I consider both of my passports to be amongst my most valuable possessions (and I named this blog accordingly), but I am fully aware of the advantages that my U.S. passport confers upon me as compared to my Nigerian passport. That being said, I have often been glib about encouraging people to just embrace their travel dreams and take off. Even amongst Westerners, I have been fortunate in being available to afford my amazing trips. I started my travels by using scholarship money during school breaks and have continued by using my corporate-lawyer salary and generous (by American standards, anyway) four-week paid vacations. While I certainly feel that I have worked hard for these luxuries, I am cognizant of the fact that most people are not afforded even the opportunity to work towards this.
Basically, I am lucky. I feel so fortunate and thankful for all of the experiences that I have had and hope to have going forward. I also realize that I need to be a little bit more thoughtful before I make broad, sweeping travel proclamations. Still, I do encourage everyone who dreams of travel to work towards that goal because the rewards are absolutely fantastic; I especially urge Westerners to travel if for no other reason than to force ourselves to get outside of our bubble and gain a better understanding of how other people in the world live.
On the flip side, if someone is unwilling or unable to go abroad, there is still much to be said for exploring close to home. During my time in New York, I have made the effort every once in a while (though certainly not often enough) to escape my usual routine, whether it be by wandering the grand estate at Wave Hill in the Bronx, shopping for offbeat wares and scrumptious food at the Brooklyn Flea, or even–most recently–taking a street art photography workshop in Soho/Bowery/the Lower East Side.
I think that I should do this more–that is, checking out the local scene–because I think it is important to show that you do not need to go overseas to satisfy your wanderlust. Sometimes, just getting lost in your own backyard can do the trick! This commitment to start local is especially important to me now because, in the next few weeks, I will be moving to San Francisco to start a new job. Exploring the city (and sharing my finds here!) will be a good way to learn about my new home as well as tide myself over until my next international trip (which I have had to temporarily put on hold due to my move). In short, I plan on using the blog post that inspired this post as further inspiration to develop this blog and take the next step in my career. I am already getting excited for my new adventures!