“Travel is a right for those with the means and opportunity”
If asked, most would probably and quite rightly vigorously defend the right of every individual to travel. The accuracy of this has been the subject of a few of my online conversations recently.
Travelling is considered a right in the ‘developed’ countries of the World, however for the vast majority of the human population it is not an option. Most cannot conceive of travelling beyond their communities and certainly not beyond the borders of their countries. They do not have the means or opportunity to do so and those able to travel are indeed considered privileged.
India is one of the emerging economy, with rapid growth and industrialisation two key factors in its growing importance as a major power. There remains however a huge disparity in the distribution of this new found wealth with over a third of the population living below the poverty line.
It is an amazing country to visit as almost any traveller that has had the privilege to do so will testify. The spectacle of colour, noise and aromas that assail the senses combine to provide an incredible experience. However there are few that are not affected by the abject poverty that is widespread and impossible to avoid.
Brazil is another rapidly growing economy and yet 16 million people are defined as living in poverty, some earning less than $45 a month.
The question whether travel is a right or privilege is probably never considered by those merely struggling to survive.
Many modern day nomads consider travelling a way of life and definitely a right, on the road for extended periods of months or even years. Most people however hold down jobs and only travel once or twice a year.
Reports show that many western civilisations have relatively few holidays now, especially in the United States. Vacation allowances are reduced and the full entitlement often is not taken. The reasons include the pressures of work, peer competition, recession, rising debt and in some cases pressure from employers. Whilst a company may provide an adequate holiday allowance it is possible some employers do not always look favourably on those that take the full entitlement.
“The ‘right’ to travel is being stifled in some quarters”.
Travelling to certain cultures where begging, hawkers and touts are common often leads to a jaded view of the destination. India, Morocco and Egypt are a few countries where the constant bombardment from locals that see tourists as a meal ticket. This can result in a loss of patience and weary travellers seeking some form of sanctuary.
This is a perception often expressed, with many stating that they actually hated visiting these destinations.
In our own societies we may not be affluent, however when we are immersed in a culture where most cannot conceive of travelling half way around the World, we are in comparison rich. It is easy to forget this at times but it is the traveller that is alien to the culture, perhaps a little more tolerance should be exercised.
“Travel is a right and yet to many it is not even a consideration”.
Fiscal restriction is only one reason for travel not being freely available to all. Cultural or political restrictions can also prevent a citizen of the World exercising their ‘right’ to travel. Saudi women are only permitted to travel after receiving permission from a male guardian and it is only recently the United States removed restrictions for travel to Cuba.
There are also a number of sensitive regions which provide the traveller with a dilemna, poor human rights records, supporting corrupt regimes, conflict zones and disputed territories can give the conscientious food for thought. Whether to travel and if doing so, will it benefit the governing regime or the local population? These are complex and difficult topics to tackle, which ultimately come down to individual choice.
“Equality is an extremely rare commodity”.
Freedom to travel
Travel is a right for most of us living in the so called ‘developed’ World, it is something we often take for granted, as we have the means and freedom to do so. The majority of people that inhabit our great planet however are not so fortunate.
We should enjoy our freedom to travel, it’s availability to us and our ability to choose where, when and how. It should not however be taken for granted, we are privileged to have the availability to travel as a right.
“Travelling is escaping the mundane, replacing our daily routine with an unfamiliar routine. Embracing the unfamiliar is the essence of travel”