I’m writing this in a wine bar in an airport waiting to head to France. In the last few days as people have realized we are going I heard a lot of amazed statements. I was planning on writing a post about how people should allow themselves to believe that travel is possible and then they would see that they can find ways to make it happen.
Then I read a few articles that all had the theme that the ability to travel the world is yet another example of privilege that people need to acknowledge. This whole “check your privilege” thing is getting annoying. Yep, I’m a white woman in a professional job who has the money and flexibility to travel. I’m lucky but consider how I got here.
The Money To Travel
I chose this job. It is not a job you choose for the money, by the way. I spent my entire life getting together the academic and personal qualifications to get into school to get this job. I wasn’t one of those kids getting drunk in high school or college and blowing off class.
My education came with student loans. It took me 15 years to pay them off.
I’ve chosen to live below my means. I live in a decent house but it isn’t a dream house. We could afford more but why be house poor just to show off? This meets my needs. My clothes almost all come from thrift stores. I don’t waste money paying retail. This frees up money that I could use for travel.
I drive a 10 year old Honda and plan on continuing to drive it until it dies because it is paid for. No car payment can equal one trip a year.
I’m debt free. That is a choice that was made because the freedom to be able to make decisions that are not entirely constrained by finances is a priority. It didn’t magically happen. We put in the work.
I’ve chosen not to have children.
Time to Travel
I can take time off with enough advance notice and if another doctor can cover the shift. It isn’t paid. I actually qualified for 1 week of paid vacation last year for the first time in a 17 year career.
Talking about privilege makes it sound like someone waved a magic wand and decided that I was going to be a lucky person who could travel and everyone else is just out of luck. It doesn’t take personal decisions into account. It says “Look at her. She’s a white professional person. Of course, she can do things I can’t.” It smacks of the racism and classism that it pretends to avoid.
You’re right, of course. You’ve worked hard for your career, and made decisions that allow you to travel. Enjoy your trip!
Still, I am reminded lately that because of my skin I can drive where I wish without being stopped or having my car window smashed, nor do I worry that my son will be gunned down as he pursues his college degree. We have a ways to go before that is true for all Americans.
Have a great trip! Can’t wait to hear all about it!