Advice Giving Back Journal

Addressing The Privilege Of Travel

For many, seeing Instagram accounts full of gorgeous photos of exotic and distant places will always be just that – distant places. The colors, sounds, smells, experiences of physically being in those foreign worlds may be an experience only had by the people who can afford them. It is incredibly important to be aware of the privilege and honor it is to explore the world.

To be able to pick and choose most of the experiences we have is a privilege. To essentially see the best of a certain place without having to endure any of the “bad.” We curate trips to look idyllic, oftentimes without appreciating the realities of the destination as it exists before we get there and after we leave.

Let’s recognize the privilege of having the ability to take time away from work, to spend valuable time planning a vacation, and the overall financial impact traveling can have. Not only from a financial perspective is it important to recognize privilege, but also from a physical and mental perspective. If you are someone who does not have to worry about how to physically or mentally get yourself to and from a destination, this advantage may rarely be considered or appreciated.

My hope is that being aware of the ease and ability it takes to travel can help us to stay fully present and appreciative of our experiences – particularly with the hiccups that can happen. Delayed flights, lost luggage, too long or short of connections can be inconvenient experiences, absolutely.  However, if these experiences don’t completely drain your bank account, cause you to lose your job, or have any other damaging consequence, we can take solace in the fact that we get to do what some only dream of doing and seeing.

We know we may have opportunities and experiences others don’t have or won’t have. What can we do about it? Here are a few things to consider.

Be Real

Back to those amazing Instagram layouts with stunning color and beautifully dressed women with no one else in sight. I am drawn into these photos. I want to have that experience. I want to feel like I am in the perfect moment.

But how often are those pictures very carefully curated? My guess is that it takes a lot of work to make those photos look just right.

If you have time and resources to make these gorgeous shots – that’s fantastic! Keep at it! If not, know that photos are your memories of your experiences. It’s okay to be real in them.

When we are real in our pictures, we are real with the world around us. Perhaps some moments you may have a quiet moment in a stunning location. Capture it! And when you don’t, take in the chaos of the moment and all the imperfections that go along with it. When we acknowledge reality versus a created moment, we can share with others our genuine experiences.

Authenticity can help us to feel more connection. Not just to others but the places we see. And connection with others and the world around us is a vital part of understanding our privilege.

I am guilty of this. I want my Instagram to be impressive. I want to share with others my travels because they have shaped me and inspired me. And, I understand the incredible privilege I have in being able to do and see the world as I do. I believe the least we can do is be genuine and authentic when sharing our experiences.

Encourage Small Traveling

There is beauty and excitement in many parts of the world if we look for it. Yes, Cinque Terre, Cappadocia, Marrakech, Phuket Island are stunning gems in this world. And we can still fully appreciate the new distillery in central Wisconsin, the exposed brick buildings in northeast Minneapolis, or the big sky and plains in southern Oklahoma. Our adventures can include top name attractions, and they also don’t.

Travel and exploration does not have to be done on a large scale or thousands of miles away to count as vacation. There are cities or countries actively being torn apart by war, famine, or other crises. It is important to remember there is beauty there, too. 

Support Local Businesses or Causes

Doing some research to support local communities where you travel can be a great option. Markets where locals sell their produce or handmade crafts, or dining at restaurants that are not right in a city center can be ways to support individuals and families who may be impacted by tourism.

Depending upon your resources and time allotted, find local charities for causes you support in the areas you travel. This can be a long term travel goal for yourself! For example, if you are visiting an area that has been recently ravaged by a hurricane or other natural disaster, see where you can donate time or money for housing, food, or other necessities.

Recognizing our privilege can be uncomfortable. What is even more uncomfortable is not having privilege. Travel in itself pushes you out of your comfort zones. It can force us to feel uncomfortable, and this may be part of the reason why we love it. Personal growth is a fantastic side effect of travel. Now, let’s push ourselves further to be authentic and aware of the world around us while doing something we love.

Understanding and addressing the privilege of travel is something we should all aspire to do. Conscious travel and eco-travel ideas is something we’re incredibly passionate about… and we’d love if you’d check out our other posts on traveling consciously and mindfully here!

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