Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Clearing the Air


"Considering that some folks are so well traveled, one would assume they come in contact with people from many socio-economic levels, and have a modicum of understanding that many of them can only provide the bare necessities. So planning back to back trips is out of the question when you can just afford food, clothing, and shelter. Have we reached a point where the traveler looks down upon the non traveler?"

I just read a flattering post about The Passport Party Project written by a travel blogger. In the comments section, two people commented that even with a passport, you must still have the money to travel.  One mother from a family of 7 thought the post was condescending and said "Just because YOU still have the funds to travel doesn’t mean that everyone does, and it’s a little bit like having salt rubbed in a wound to hear > 'What? I can’t BELIEVE you don’t have passports!!'”

Likewise, a Passport Party advocate recently took issue with what she thought was someone's insensitivity when that someone spoke about having had her passport since she was a teen and how she always planned a trip when she got back from a trip.  The Facebook response was relatively similar and is the opening quote posted above.

So here's where I get to chime in.  =)

The Passport Party Project is a global awareness initiative.

In spite of the fact that the economy has created a challenge for so many families right now, when children get a passport it has the power to potentially change their perspective about their place in the world and how they might fit into it. It’s not necessarily about family vacations and finding the money for that next trip. It could be about a study abroad program that offers a grant or scholarship during high school.  In sum, it’s about being ready when the time comes.

Sometimes travelers don't get it.

Most people who travel frequently and have made travel a lifestyle as opposed to a luxury don't necessarily have loads of disposable income and to be frank, others do.  In many cases, some frequent travelers simply make travel a priority and forego the expensive car (or any car at all), the cute shoes or the flat screen television and opt instead to put any. extra. pennies. they might get aside into their vacation piggy banks.  So the truth is that sometimes travelers don't get it.  They don't understand why someone wouldn't have a passport or why someone wouldn't want to see the world.  Not because they are being intentionally insensitive, but because they are absorbed in the world of travel, just as a family of seven might be absorbed in trying to survive.  Each person is dealing with his or her own reality...and neither should be ostracized for it or offended by it.  Should travelers not talk about travel because they have found a way to afford it?  I think not.  No one should have to apologize for their reality, no matter what that reality might be.

Passports foster dreams.
Stacie Turner

The Passport Party Project serves girls from under-served communities.  In October of this year The Passport Party Project will empower 10 girls from former Real Housewives of DC cast member Stacie Turner's charity Extra-Ordinary Life and these 10 girls are from the foster care system. One might think the odds are stacked against these girls as well; that because they might not currently have the means to travel that they aren't allowed to dream.  Oh, but think again.

The Passport Party Project is a global awareness initiative and not a slight against those who cannot currently afford to take a vacation.  It is my way of sharing the world of travel with young girls who dream about travel and getting them the tools they need to help make those dreams come true.  If I'm doing my job correctly, The Passport Party Project encourages them to act local and think global by befriending classmates and neighbors from different cultural backgrounds because that's who they'll meet once they start traveling.  It encourages them to learn a language when it's offered in school; it encourages them to excel at math so they'll be able to convert foreign currency without a calculator (gasp!).  In my view, passports foster dreams and as we all know, dreams can come true.  That's my reality.

What's yours? 

4 comments:

  1. That's a great post Tracey.

    I can understand both sides of the conversation.
    But I think your focus on the passport as a tool for exposure and the ultimate "dream catcher" is dead on.

    My reality is 4 fold:

    1) It starts with a dream/desire. And awareness and exposure is a big part of that. When I was a kid, I loved studying foreign languages but hated history and geography. It seemed a bunch of random facts with no relevance. Then, I started to travel and began to see the connection between places, spaces, people, cultures, art and history. It's fascinating to me now and I can't get enough. I think it's important to expose young people to rest of the world -- so they can dream and approach the world with a new open-hearted sensitivity.


    2)To those who feel like we're rubbing salt in their travel-hungry wounds .... it's not intentional. Once you've been initiated, you can't help but see the world through a lens of wonderment, awe, and cultural curiosity. We're literal ambassadors for the rest of the world and our stories and encouragements are the way we spread the message.


    3) Travel is a way of life. Even though I don't always have the expendable budget, it's important to me just like other aspects of my life and I have a travel budget -- building towards my next flight or my next hotel stay.

    If you add up all the Starbucks, crappy fast food, new clothes and other things that we collectively splurge on, there's always a few dollars in the budget to make use of. Even at $25 per pay check, you'll have $300-600 in a year.... and in 2 years, you'll have $1200 ... which is plenty to take a trip on.

    4) It takes a mindset shift. We read blogs, sign up for every frequent flier miles and hotel that we can and we manage these points like they are cash savings/investments. So everything in our lives (dining out, credit card purchases, rental cars, online purchases) are all building towards our long term travel goals.

    There are so many blogs and websites out there sharing so many ideas for how to make travel affordable. Except for those in the most destitute situation, I don't believe international travel is an unattainable goal.

    And, if a passport plays a small role in getting us all to think differently about the world .. and helping us feel a more connected part of it, I say keep spreading the word ... Let's make sure everyone we know has a one! ;-)

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  2. Thanks, Chelle, for posting your reality! Laughing because I remember putting my head down in AP History (and getting in trouble!) because I was bored. Funny how things change once you get The Bug...

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  3. It's about being ready when the time comes....so true!!

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  4. My reality is that I had my passport before the age of two thanks to the US Air Force. If it weren't for my father's service and 2 geography/social studies teachers exciting me about the world, there might not be an Absolute Travel Addict.

    I don't aspire to be a backpacker and continue to work so that travel can be a part of my life in the ways that I enjoy it most. I share my stories and experiences in hope that someone will be inspired to make a change, no matter how big or small.

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