Are you squandering your world travel privileges?
I know I did. I don’t anymore but I did.
While traveling extensively in the US, I didn’t travel outside the country until 2014. I don’t count the brief forage of the border to Mexico once when in my 20’s. I now count myself lucky to be one of the world’s privileged travelers.
As American’s, we are some of the world’s most free and privileged travelers. We’re able to visit over 174 countries without a visa (99 visa-free) or receive a visa upon arrival.
What a beautiful freedom and privilege to be blessed with, especially when so many others aren’t. Like the citizens of India, for example. David and I recently met a group of young men from India, who explained to us how much effort they have to complete the visa process to visit almost every country in the world. Or the Moroccan hotel manager in Morocco who wanted to travel the world. Or the Portuguese man aspiring to become a chef in America. All these people wish to have the same freedoms we as Americans do.
And yet, many Americans don’t ever use those freedoms. Let’s look at the facts:
- 131.8 million US citizens had passports in 2016 (US State Department)
- 325.6 million US citizens (US Census)
- Around 66,960,943 people traveled internationally in 2016 (National Travel and Tourism Office)
- Of those 66.9 million trips, 37,403,398 were to Mexico or Canada (National Travel and Tourism Office)
We have to take into consideration that some of those 66.9 million trips are also repeated travels by some. With all those thoughts and numbers in mind, it’s easy to see that many Americans never leave the US.
Why Many Americans Don’t Leave the US
We live in a vast country, so why leave it?
After all, we’re spoiled here. We don’t have to deal with third-world country issues or see poverty unless we chose to. And while the landscapes and accents may change, everything else remains virtually the same no matter where you travel in the US.
That’s good enough reason for many. Still, others think travel is only for the rich and the rest cannot afford to travel. And still, others fear what may happen to them if they leave our “safe” country.
Why Many Other Countries Don’t Enjoy the Same Travel Privileges
I’ll admit to my previously complete ignorance of the fact that other nations didn’t have the same travel privileges that we enjoy. I always assumed that countries exchanged reciprocal visa programs. Until traveling out of the US, I never realized we could visit so many nations in which the citizens could not visit the US.
The biggest reason the US doesn’t exchange visa privileges is they are afraid visitors will attempt to stay and not return home at the end of their visit. It’s heartbreaking that a country of immigrants is so fearful of visitors.
Even those who can enter the US must have pre-authorization or a visa. The US Visa Waiver Program (VWP), gives the citizens of 38 countries the ability to travel in the US, provided they electronically file their travel plans before traveling. And even if a visa is approved, the US can revoke or refuse entry to anyone, without notice.
Why You Should Stop Squandering Your Travel Privileges
The personal growth gained from traveling is a priceless life experience.
International travel is a chance to learn about other people, cultures, and lifestyles outside one’s own. It’s also one of the best ways to reduce fears of the unknown and help break down social stereotypes and prejudices.
Getting out of the country truly means your exercise your freedom, your privilege, without squandering it. And getting out of the country means you begin to actually understand how privileged you are to have the freedom to go almost anywhere you want in the world with little to no issue. Unlike the many others who don’t have the same freedom.
So stop making excuses and get your passport. Grab your freedom and become one of the World’s Privileged Travelers.