An Open Letter To Travel Influencers (And Their Working Class Followers)

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“Maybe a train to Paris is ‘only £35’, but for some people that’s food for two weeks.”

By Selena Arroyo

Newsflash: Most of these celebrities and influencers probably wouldn't travel as much as they do if it they weren’t paid or provided with subsidised accommodation. They’re travelling for BUSINESS, they’re getting paid thousands to travel. Some of us don’t have that same privilege.

I urge you (the travel influencers) to stop telling people to “just save up and travel” or “you could travel if maybe you prioritised X, Y, Z”. If only you knew how privileged that sounds, you would stop. Maybe you have the privilege to travel but lower income individuals do not have that same luxury.

Some people dropped out of high school because they felt so guilty that their parents crossed borders for them, yet they still had no money, and decided to work to help them. Some are carrying the guilt of all the sacrifices their parents made for them, so they end up never leaving their hometowns in order to stay close to their family.  Others are so scared of loans, they end up working in retail and don’t go on to do anything else. Others are born into poverty, and going travelling is something they can only dream of; a once in a lifetime opportunity that may never even come. Many are living pay-check to pay-check, one wrong move and they’re at the verge of losing everything.

I understand that when you live in Europe, travelling around Europe can be quite cheap (at least for now). However, hotels, food, attractions; they all add up. Understand that what YOU consider cheap isn’t the same for everyone. Maybe a train to Paris is “only £35”, but for some people that’s food for two weeks.

Unless you come from a well-off family or have a high paying remote based job, most people who travel constantly end up staying in less than desirable accommodation. Thanks to social media, this isn’t what we expect. We want to stay in a nice Airbnb or hotel to relax after a long day of exploring beautiful cities by foot, not in a hostel with 10 people sharing a room. We want to eat local cuisines, not buy bags of chips for the trip and call it a day. We are provided with false expectations, and feel that we haven’t “achieved” because of it.

Unless you come from a well-off family or have a high paying remote based job, most people who travel constantly end up staying in less than desirable accommodation. Thanks to social media, this isn’t what we expect.

As someone who has travelled a small amount, I understand the importance. There’s nothing more beautiful than going to a different place and exploring different cultures. It may sound corny, but it reminds you that you’re alive and you feel so free. However, telling people “you’re in your 20s, just quit your job and go”, or “this is your time” is so damn condescending. We’re already struggling. Then come the rich and influential adding another socially constructed notion of what they define as “success” adding to the never-ending list of the many accomplishments we have to achieve in order to be “living our best life”. To the influencers - please be more mindful.

I know there is no “right time” to travel but if you want to wait until you’re making good money, that’s ok. If you want to wait until you’re in your 30s, that’s ok too. Beautiful cities and cultures will always be there. Don’t feel pressured into doing everything while you’re young. Being young is just a mindset, whether you travel in your 20s, 30s or 40s you’re still going to have an amazing time.

Don’t let these rich influencers and celebrities who get paid thousands to stay in fancy hotels, make you feel like you have to do things at their pace. There’s no right or wrong time to travel. You don’t even have to travel at all.