Prioritizing: Life and Wanderlust

I’ve come across multiple blogs and articles that enforce this idea that traveling is a privilege, a lot of which reference the expense or life obligations which may avert wanderlust. But I think it’s time we dropped that narrative. Don’t get me wrong, yes, traveling is a privilege. Nevertheless, those who might be able to do so tend to prioritize things in life, applying increased effort into the things considered more valuable.

Assessing Our Values

Our behaviors are guided by costs versus rewards which we assess, usually without even realizing it. Cost refers to time or monetary investments, whereas rewards are all the positives, the way we feel, and what we get out of the experience. When the costs outweigh the rewards, then the experience loses its value. This basic idea is used in psychology and business to evaluate risks and benefits. For example, if one is contemplating the pursuit of marriage versus traveling the world solo, the individual would weigh the perceived rewards in each option based on already existing values.

The Convenience of Travel

We are so fortunate to live in a time where I can do a quick search and find ample cost-efficient hotels, hostels, Airbnbs, as well as flights. According to a Forbes article, thanks to competition and alternative revenue sources accompanied by the internet, carrier fares saw a drastic decrease– Fantastic for passengers!

Fares get even more affordable after crossing the Atlantic where airlines such as RyanAir and EasyJet can get you to most European cities for under 100 euros. Further, the writer clarifies that in 1960, a flight from New York to London that would’ve cost about $2,600 (adjusted for inflation), is now almost a tenth of the price. A CNN article confirms that cheaper flights have existed since the 1980s and set as a basic principle later adopted by other carriers. Even though our current climate is unprecedented, experts believe that this principle is likely to continue to live on post-COVID-19.

Reassessing and Prioritizing

At a point in history, traveling was an expense reserved for the rich but in our contemporary world, that is no longer the case. I, a Black 20-something year old woman made the choice to go backpacking in Europe and to see the world years ago after the completion of a freelance gig. I’ve explored homogenous places from Budapest to Puebla. Like with every other life accomplishment, I prioritized the things that mattered most to me and seeing new places was one of those things. I made the choice to cross the Rhine River in Basel, to walk up the Gellért Hill in Budapest, to stand before the Ishtar Gate at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin because the presumed rewards outweighed every other possible cost. 

Don’t be deterred by one narrative. If you can afford to and find value in meeting people from all over the world and experiencing new cultures, make it a priority. I can’t wait for things to subside and to pack my bags again!

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