There’ve been a ton of articles floating around the internet lately arguing that travel is classist and only available to people with lots of time and money. These articles struck a chord with me mainly because they misconstrue everything about what it means to travel, often mistaking it for expensive vacations. When people think of ‘travel’, they think of all-inclusive resorts and margaritas by the beach. And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, it is true that only people with large bank accounts would be able to do that consistently. But that’s simply not what ‘traveling the world’ entails.
I was personally born in Uruguay to a middle class family and moved to Florida at around age 10. I graduated from college with two degrees and work a full-time job, and I still make sure to constantly working on my dream of seeing the world. I am a big believer in budget-traveling: staying in $10/night hostels (they’re actually very nice, clean and secure!), buying groceries instead of eating at fancy restaurants, and being flexible when booking plane/train/bus tickets. Through my travels around the world, I’ve also met people who move from place to place with little to none – and they’re some of the happiest, most inspiring people I’ve ever met.
The ability to travel, whether that’s across the state or across the world, is the desire to want to see these places more than you want the $100 shoes or the $18,000 car. In our society, it is perfectly normal and accepted to go into debt trying to buy a car with a GPS and heated seats, but not to want to see Europe or Asia or South America for prolonged period. How many times have you heard someone say “Oh, I wish I could go there!” while sporting a designer purse or jeans or jacket? The truth is YOU CAN go there, you just have to make travel a priority.
I traveled 18 countries in Europe in the summer of 2015 with a budget of around $3500. I had saved up for months, and found it quite easy to manage with that considerably tight amount of money. Had I expected a 5 star vacation I wouldn’t have lasted more than a few days, but that’s not what I was traveling for. Travel builds confidence, cultural sensitivity and adaptation. It also, clichély, forces you out of your comfort zone (believe me!). I see travel as an investment – not only for my own personal growth but for my happiness as well. I also make traveling my main concern, and because of that I’m able to follow my dream even though my feet are firmly planted in the ‘full-time-job-with-rent-and-insurance-payments’ middle class world.