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No, Loving To Travel Does Not Mean You're Classist

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Traveling Is About Priorities – Not Just Class
Self

Real travelers know it's not about the money you spend.

In an article on Ravishly published in 2016, author David Minerva argues that traveling, or advocating for travel, is classist.

"Travel, they tell me, is about 'enriching yourself.' It’s about 'loving diversity.' It’s about wanting to 'get outside of your own narrow worldview' and really 'see how others live.' Some people even tell me that it’s necessary for living a full and happy life," Minerva writes, then going on to point out that “no one dares to mention that travel is essentially a consumable good under capitalism and, as such, simply isn’t available to many of us.”

Very interesting, right? I mean it definitely feels that way sometimes — traveling can get expensive, after all. But is it actually classist?

While I agree to some degree, it’s not this simple. Firstly, travel is widely available. It’s not like airlines are actively trying to stop certain classes from traveling. It’s just way harder for people who don't have the disposable income (I mean, there’s no denying that traveling is a heck of a lot easier with money).

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Frankly, it seems that both sides of this argument are very dependent on which class you’re from making you quite defensive one way or the other (perhaps, highlighting Minerva’s point … or being the very thing that makes him unreliable). Either you’re in the upper class and can afford to travel without much thought or you’re in the struggling middle to lower classes and you travel substantially less (or maybe even none at all).

In his article, David makes some decent points about how traveling is way harder (if not nearly impossible) for the lower classes. However, I do feel that the author was being a bit on the dramatic side. More often than not, travel is more dependent on personal priorities than on class (especially for the middle class).

By definition, classism means, "prejudice against or in favor of people belonging to a particular social class." The point here is everybody CAN travel. It’s just that those of us in the lower classes have to work harder for it or change our definitions of what travel actually is. It’s not always necessarily fair, but it’s not necessarily classist either.

For example, I was raised in the middle class and when we were teenagers, my sister went to Europe with our High School's "World Travel Club." I, on the other hand, wanted a car. My sister’s priority was to travel while she was young. She worked hard to raise money, gave up a couple things, and she DID IT!

She ended up not getting a car until she was older whereas I had my car ready when I turned 16 (and her car wasn’t as nice as mine). But I ended up being one of the numerous other people in the middle class who didn’t make travel enough of a priority and now I’ve never been outside the country. I talk about wanting to go to Europe, but I haven’t made it enough of a priority yet (and I’m aware this is MY problem — not a “class limitation”).

Traveling in the middle class requires giving things up for long periods of time to save enough money to go. Frankly, I’m not sure I’m disciplined enough to get there yet.

Not being in the “upper classes” require more sacrifice if you want to travel — that’s undeniable. But, this article felt like it made snap judgments about people.

Again, I sympathize and understand his point. I was also one of those kids whose vacations didn’t really compare to their peers. I won’t pretend that I wasn’t a bit bummed that I never went to Disneyland like other kids and unlike other families, getting to the beach was a rarity until my grandparents bought a motorhome when I was older. And I also won’t pretend my mom didn’t complain about the lack of traveling (she totally did).

But you know what? I was from a family of 7 children (yes, you read that right — SEVEN) so clearly, that was where her priorities were: in raising a family, not in world travel.

And honestly, I wouldn’t give up any of my siblings for childhood vacation memories. But, that’s me. I’m totally only planning on having one kid (maybe) for the sake of more opportunities in my personal life.

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I mean, even in this article, the author says that their family went camping every year (so, time off work, gas money, camping "goodies" — all money that could have been saved for a big international trip down the road). Sure, the upper classes travel way more; but that’s not necessarily oppressive in any way.

Could the upper classes be more sensitive about advocating for it since not everybody can afford to travel as often as them? Without a doubt! Bragging about it is pretty rude if they didn’t have to work that hard to get there, but that doesn’t make it classist. That makes it insensitive to the lower class struggles, not directly classist.

Of course, not everyone will be able to afford that month-long tour across Europe or resort stay in the Maldives. But the whole idea of traveling as an enriching experience doesn't mean your travels have to be extravagant. If your goal is to learn about other people or see new places, travel can be as simple as visiting a new city in your state.

Travel is not only personal to everyone, but it’s also what you make it. It doesn’t have to be luxurious. It doesn’t always have to a “grand adventure.” It can be whatever the heck you want it to be. And it’s more about what you make happen for your own life.

Some people give up the finer things when they're young to be able to travel, some people save up gradually their whole lives for a grand tour of a specific continent after they’ve retired, some people have fewer children specifically so there will be more disposable income specifically for traveling, and some people are content to never leave their house let alone the country.

Like life, travel is way more about what you make it.

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Nicole Bradley-Bernard is a writer who needs coffee more than she needs anyone’s approval. She enjoys putting bright colors in her curly brown hair, spending time outside on cool days and being with her partner in life, Eric, who she considers a continuing source of inspiration.

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