Shortly after returning to the US after living in Hong Kong for two years, I attended a party with an old but distant friend and her acquaintances. The party’s host said to me, "Oh Amy, I wish I could travel like you!" To which I relied, "You can! You should try it, what’s stopping you?" She answered with the most common and least credible excuse, "Oh, it’s too expensive."

It took all the politeness I had to refrain from expressing the thoughts on my mind: "A round-the-word air ticket costs less than your CD collection over there, and sure as hell less than this Pottery Barn couch we’re sitting on. In the majority of countries you can live for a week on what it costs for a day in New York City." Like many things in life, reality often has too little to do with the decisions we make. The truth is that global accessibility combined with the Internet and airfare wars make travel one of the most affordable experiences around. And one of the most worthwhile.

But it does come down to choices, since income and / or free time is limited for most. Personally, I own very few CDs. Nor have I spent significantly on clothes or other miscellaneous items in the past few years. I have also chosen to leave good jobs for lower paying ones, because they offered greater opportunities for travel. As a result, I have been around the world – literally – living and learning as I went. The experiences gained through my travels are more valuable to me than any possession I own: They have formed the person I am today.

As we all face choices regarding the allocation of our resources, I would suggest considering the following: 1) the vast majority of the world’s people live in places that are navigable for less than US$20/day – you can meet them. 2) Your life is the choices you make. Don’t let a consumer-driven society and its media messages rob you of the opportunity to see your own planet. 3) it’s a privilege, not a right, to live in an advanced economy in which your income affords you, and your legal system permits you, to explore freely beyond national boundaries.

Enjoy that privilege.

- Amy Schrier, FONDER, Blue magazine.

                   

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