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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?