Travel as a right

After reading this article in my Worthy Reads post a couple months back, my mom texted me about it, comparing her own mindset to the men in the article. We were talking about how strange money is, and how relative it is. But, she said, she also hates that to want to experience more in your life is to essentially want more money, and she hates that the two are so closely tied. It feels cheap and wrong to wish for more money, and at the same time, it does seem important in doing a lot of what we want to do, or would do, ideally.

In my experience, growing up in the town I did, in the socioeconomic class I did, in the country I did, travel, and seeing new places, has been a luxury. It’s a special occasion, a treat, a temporary escape from real life that is envied by others. And because it’s expensive, it’s a luxury.

But you know what is really, really wild to think about? It didn’t really have to be this way. My mom said, how cool would it be if people had an inherent right to go visit our national parks at least once in their lives? Sort of like Birthright Israel for Jewish people to be able to experience Israel.

The thought really got my wheels turning. I think, as a society, we might have a slightly dysmorphic view of the value of travel. When getting around today is theoretically the easiest it’s ever been, why shouldn’t we all be born with more of a “suitcase heart”? It’s pretty incredible to think of how many of us will never be able to experience most of what is outside of our own neighborhoods because of so many obstacles in place.

Shortly after this conversation with my mom, I met a girl, about my age, who mentioned an upcoming trip. Through a little more divulgence, she explained that both her parents had passed away, and as part of some sort of life insurance policy, they had chosen to give their daughter an all expenses- paid trip every year to wherever she wanted to go, in lieu of money. I have to say, I was actually moved by her story. I thought, how unbelievably powerful and insightful was this decision by her parents? Her life will forever be enriched by exponentially more than they could ever give her, since they gave her the gift of new experiences always, even while they aren’t here. And I love the idea that they are right with her, wherever she goes.

Needless to say, it made me think of having my own kids someday, and how travel is a gift that can’t be measured in dollars or in time. It made me want to keep this in mind when undoubtedly scouring the internet and shopping malls in the days before Christmas and birthdays. What if I set aside a portion of that money that would have gone to some material something or other, and put it in a travel fund, to be cashed in on anytime, as long as it’s toward seeing someplace new? I love that idea, and the fact that money would hopefully be less of a deterrent in experiencing a new place or a new culture.

PS: Hierarchy of needs and Travel guide: how to find the best restaurants and bars

Pictured: Acadia National Park