They say that travel is the best teacher, I really can’t describe how my perceptions and thoughts have changed while I have been traveling around the world during the last year. I was born in a third world country, raised in a 1st world country, spoke 3 different languages at the age of 20, and look completely different than what people think I am.
I am clearly trapped in-between cultures
I used to be obsessed with having the latest pointy shoes from Italy, having a big watch to show off my man hood, and having the latest $500 gadget in my hand to check my Facebook status OVER AND OVER.
Fast forward a year and the only thing I care about is continuing to travel around the world while I live out of 4 suitcases.
I am going to be scaling down to roughly 15 $10 t-shirts I bought at the Gap, 2 shorts, 1 pair of jeans, and the 15 year old Jansport backpack I had to give CPR to a few months ago by sewing all the holes.
I’m going to be rocking that Jansport until I’m 30!
It really hit me while I was on my trip to Israel and as I speak to friends here in Kenya. Most westerners take travel for granted. As I sit here today I thought to myself how easy is it for me to get around the world.
I went to the South Sudanese Liaison office today to get a visa and just booked a flight to the Victoria Falls. No worries about a visa, I just pay at the border, and no worries about being in danger. I’ve lived in Kenya, Argentina, and Colombia for goodness sake.
What do I have to be afraid of? Someone robbing my chocolate chip cookies?
There are so many people around the world that can’t just pick up and go. I decided to go the Victoria Falls in less than 4 hours after I realized I couldn’t get a visa to South Sudan until Wednesday. Most of the people in the countries I have travelled to are worried about how to get out of their country, not about the latest Iphone 5. They dream about traveling to places where you can walk on water and seeing monumental glaciers that I consider to be one of the natural wonders of the world.
People from Israel aren’t even able to travel to the massive part of the world. Since they are required to be in the military after high school (secondary school), they aren’t able to travel to many countries with security risks until 5 years after their service. I personally know a friend in Kenya that has been waiting over a year to get a visa to go back to the states. A person that doesn’t need help paying her bills.
Just wanted to write this post to make you realize how lucky most of us are to be able to just go anytime we want. If you want to travel around the world then stop buying your $5 Mocha Frappa Dappa Duppa-ccinos , don’t buy that $1,000 TV that you watch pointless sports games on, and definitely consider buying the $100 fake replica of the Gucci & Prada purse. They are identical and most people won’t be able to tell the difference, trust me I used to sell them when I was younger.
Very true. I lived in China for 4 years and thought of this often. If you’re Chinese and want to anywhere travel abroad, you MUST have a visa. To get a visa, you need to prove that you have a certain amount of money in your bank account. You need to pass an interview at the embassy and prove that you have sufficient reasons to return to China after your trip. Most of my clients (patent attorneys) wanted to study abroad in the 1980s, but couldn’t because they government didn’t allow them to. Now all of these men have saved up money to send their children to study abroad in the US, since it’s more open now (but still requires massive amounts of money.)
I am American, and when I studied abroad it cost me the same amount as it did to cost at my state university. The visa process involved bureaucracy, but nothing nearly as complicated as what Chinese students have to go through!
Thanks for this reminder. Safe travels in Africa!
I really enjoyed reading this. I haven’t been on the road as long as you nor do I have such a diverse background, but I can relate to what you are saying. It has been so easy for me to travel, and I do not ever want to take that for granted.
Its tough sometimes but every time I speak with the local people it really hits home. Especially in Zambia they are so enamored with the United States and really want to get out of their country and can’t. Thanks for the comment!
I just hit me while I was traveling.. Africans need a visa to use the bathroom! lol
I agree about Westerners not traveling as much. Being an American, I can say with all certainty that many people in my country simply don’t have the time or won’t take the time to travel. It’s a shame that most vacation allotments only last about 2 weeks (for the entire year).
You’re right. We are blessed to be able to travel the world. Hopefully, many more will share our passion for travel and change their lives. I love the imagery of the backpack. Way to do things on the cheap! 🙂
Ohh, one of the things that stood out for me when visiting Cuba was that the Cubans could not travel. We totally get to take travel for granted, and rarely realise how lucky we are (provided we come from a country with a green light, country to country).
couldn’t agree with you more! Thanks for the comment
We’re a Portuguese girl + Indian boy traveling RTW and I must say that for my boyfriend (the Indian part of this relationship) is totally different than for me to get visas. We’re in Latin America right now and I get visa on arrival everywhere. He doesn’t and we must always go through the assle (and expense!) of applying in advance. Many friends from Europe were even surprised when found out about this – someone people still think that everyone gets visa on arrival to most countries, just like they do!
Never take this for granted.. I have learned that lesson and appreciate that, still, we can go everywhere because many people just can’t.
Also yeah, for those that say we’re too lucky for being able to do this.. Stop spending 10 dolars a day on fancy coffees… Prioritize your expenses and cut the crap! 😉
You understand my point exactly because you have seen if first hand… I realize how lucky we are to just pick up and go and while the world may change in the future right now it sucks. People in Africa need a visa to use the bathroom which sucks….
We have privileges that many cannot even dream of. Which makes it essential we use our choices wisely, treat everyone with the respect we’d like them to show us. It’s only the fortunes of birth and politics that separate us – we all have the same needs and feelings.
Just got home to Canada from 6 months of travel and am overwhelmed by all the junk people seem to need here. I’m taking lots of flack for taking off that long, not acting like an ‘adult’ by people who tell me they have responsibilities, they can’t ‘afford’ to travel. This is being done at restaurants and coffee shops where I’m ordering water vs their $6 coffee/cocktail, or shortly after I’m shown their latest purchase. All from healthy, able-bodied people with passports. I think we (North Americans) are all guilty of often building up travel as something of mythologically difficult proportions and focusing too much on possessions, but I’m feeling really blown away by returning to this – and I was only in the Medeterranean, which is a relatively wealthy part of the world!
I love to travel and have never taken one minute of my travel time for granted. It has been easy for me to make my way around the world without the hassle that many others experience but, I also had to work for it by saving my pennies and taking the time to get up and go and I loved every (well almost) minute of it. I see so many people that have never taken the time or saved the money so they could travel and experience this wonderful world of ours. Sometimes you just have to do it. Thanks for a great post!
As Kiwis we are lucky to be welcomed almost everywhere. So far the only place we had to get visas for ahead was Vietnam.
In another sense we have started to take travel a little for granted having been on the road for over three months, seeing new places every few days. Maintaining that sense of wonder and gratitude on a daily basis is fading a little (first world problems much?!)We head to te US soon though and I am pretty sure that will be an entirely new experience, very different from Asia and Europe.