Part II: “Getting to” travel

When people hear about how much I travel, I get a few predictable comments in return.  On the list is the classic, “Wow, you’re so lucky you get to travel!”

This is how I want to respond:

batman

…but instead, I just smile and gently explain that luck has nothing to do with it.  With few exceptions, no one “gets to” travel–they choose to travel.  All travelers, short-term and long-term, make a series of decisions starting with “I’m going to travel to [insert exotic local]”, and ending with getting on a plane.  If you never make that initial decision, then you’re never going to leave home.

 

To illustrate my point, here’s a list of situations that would qualify as “lucky to get to travel”:

  • Inheriting $10,000 from a dead uncle, redeemable only as plane tickets
  • Tripping and falling into a wormhole that transports you to a beach in Thailand
  • Being diagnosed with a disease than can only be cured by soaking in Icelandic hot springs
  • Being kidnapped by Carmen Sandiego

 

In contrast, here are some of the choices made by long-term travelers:

  • Fixing a budget and sticking to it
  • Working multiple jobs
  • Not owning pets
  • Selling plasma
  • Not growing attached to house plants
  • Not committing to long-term relationships

Does that sound lucky to you?  Because it sounds to me like the normal sacrifices I make for the thing that I’m truly passionate about, the thing that makes my world go ’round.

 

Fortunately for short-term travelers, the list of decisions is much simpler:

  • Pick a date
  • Request the time off work far in advance
  • Tell everyone you’re going so you can’t chicken out
  • Figure out how much money to set aside every week or month to reach your goal
  • Do that ^
  • Buy a plane ticket
  • Buy a guidebook or research your destination online (or wing it!)
  • Find a neighbor or college student to feed your chinchilla and water your plants
  • Pack
  • Board the plane

See, it’s a series of decisions, and not one of them is contingent on a bizarre inheritance or falling in a wormhole.

 

Now, I will readily admit that in one regard I am “lucky I get to travel”:  I was raised in a stable and supportive middle class American family, and that has opened doors to me that may have otherwise remained closed.  But the people who tell me I’m “lucky I get to travel” aren’t people from different socioeconomic situations–they’re my peers, my co-workers, my friends and family, my neighbors.

Despite this rant of mine, I don’t begrudge them their point of view.  In a society where a life of travel is viewed as a decadent luxury most can’t afford, no wonder people look at my lifestyle with awe.  But instead of agreeing with them, I want to educate them, to show them that no one “gets to” travel–they must choose to travel.

The moral of the story is this:  if you sit around waiting for travel to happen to you, you’re never going to go anywhere.  

 

 

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4 Comments

  1. Bob Dale, owner of the D and D Brewery where I was fortunate enough to meet Sarah, always said something about people in general: “There are two types of people in the world: Those that make shit happen, and those that wait for shit to happen. There are no excuses.” I think you’re the bomb, Sarah, and I wish you all the best LUCK in the world on your travels! No shortness of sacrifice was required to bring you to your current state of affairs.

  2. I agree whole-heartedly! Indeed, travel is a series of decisions and choices one makes. I also don’t like it when my friends in Singapore say I am “lucky” to have worked in London and Hong Kong. Well, they could have done it too. It’s just that they were unwilling to leave the safety and familiarity of home. And it’s not as if the ride has always been smooth and plain sailing for me. However, I think I am richer for all the experiences I have had and the people I have met.

    Happy to ‘meet’ a fellow wanderer even though you are thousands of miles away!

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