You are so lucky to travel so much, you are so privileged to travel. Those are perhaps the most common things people say to me when they hear about what I do, but it isn’t luck and it certainly isn’t down to some imagined privilege. Travelling the world is a conscious choice that involves a lot of sacrifices of things other people take for granted. If you want to follow your dreams and travel the world as well, especially in the long term, then you will have to make the same sacrifices.
When I meet anyone new and they ask what I do now for a living, or the topic of the places I have been comes up, everyone always says that I am so lucky! Everyone always wishes they could do the same, they tell me they wish they could do what I do, especially when they hear that I am now a travel writer with my own platform, as if it was just gifted to me on a silver platter.
Now don’t get me wrong, travelling the world as much as I have has been amazing. I have travelled to over 100 countries on every continent bar Antarctica and I have had a wonderful life. For most of that life that was just for fun, but now I have managed to forge myself a business out of doing something I love. Now essentially I get paid to promote destinations and brands on my platform when I travel.
I Am Not Lucky.
But this is not luck. I didn’t win the lottery and no one has gifted all of this to me on a silver platter.
I have worked damn hard to get what I have. I have saved constantly to be able to afford to travel. I have gone without all the things many people take for granted, the nights out, the takeaways, the nice things and fancy gadgets.
All of this has taken some sacrifice.
Being nomadic so much over the last two decades has meant that whilst I was swanning off around the world all of my friends back home were getting on with their lives too.
They built up careers and moved up the ladder slowly and steadily, whilst I was quitting most of the jobs I had after a few months to cure my wanderlust again and essentially starting from scratch every time I returned. I found my way of course, I managed to retrain in a career that would give me the skills and power to be able to do that without it effecting me. I managed to climb to a senior position as a nurse through sheer will and more than a little obnoxious ambition. I demanded what I wanted and took it. But that forced a different way of doing things and presented its own challenges that they never had to face as they walked up the ladder.
And now of course I have built a business around what I loved doing, but again that was a conscious choice to fit what I do around what I love. To fit my life around travel.
Forging Your Own Path.
Travelling the world so much means that you have to essentially remove yourself from the normal paradigm of society. You can’t have your cake and eat it too, unless of course you do win the lottery, so whilst all your friends are buying houses, settling down. building up those savings accounts and living the normal hum drum life society expects of them, you are generally blowing your last penny on yet another cheap flight deal.
Not that there is anything wrong with that, I made that conscious decision to spend my efforts and money elsewhere, but there were times throughout the years when I saw my friends at home where I wished I could have my own place too. I never wanted to settle down as such, but there were times when I thought I would never own my own home like they had.
It is that fear of missing out. That grass is always greener effect. Yes they were always thinking they wished they could travel the world like I did, but I was always thinking it would be pretty cool to have my own living room with a big screen TV!
Of course now that I am no longer in my twenties, and barely have any time left in my thirties, I have managed to catch up and get my own house too, but I will be paying off a mortgage a lot later than most people.
See, there are choices that are made, trade offs, sacrifices.
And that happens in your personal relationships too. When you are travelling constantly relationships can become transitory. People come into your life and then they move on. Friendships are temporary and the goodbyes are ever present.
You meet some amazing people on the road, and have some of the best adventures of your life with them, but then those bonds revert back to being nothing more than the occasional like on each others Facebook page again.
And your love life? Well that is constantly temporary too, if you have one at all of course.
And all of that is fine, it is just something you accept. Most long term backpackers not only accept that but can enjoy it too. Long term solo travel has made me extremely self sufficient, extremely comfortable in my own company to the point where I am more than happy spending extended periods alone.
And that does have its advantages too, my relationship now is infinitely stronger as a result of my independent nature, I know who I am and am comfortable on my own, so the relationship I am in is worth giving that up for, and it makes it so much more meaningful.
I am telling you this so that you can see the positives behind the difference too. Because these sacrifices do have their down sides, they aren’t all sunshine and lollipops but they aren’t all bad either.
Long term travel is amazing. Backpacking around the world, especially solo, is one of the best adventures you can ever give yourself.
But they involve a conscious decision to follow those dreams and make sacrifices in other areas. Now don’t get me wrong, I made those sacrifices willingly and I would not change a thing. If I had to do it all again I would.
But don’t tell me I am lucky to travel as much as I do.
Did you enjoy this article? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below or on my Facebook or Twitter pages and please feel free to share it with any or all of the social media buttons. If you want to get more great backpacking tips, advice and inspiration, please subscribe to updates via email in the box to your right.
How To Make Friends And Meet People When Travelling Solo.
Is Solo Travel Ever Truly Solo?
It Really Is A Lonely Planet After Your Gap Year.
Making And Breaking Friendships When You Travel The World.
The Downsides To Solo Travel No One Will Tell You About.
To reiterate: you were a nurse, you’ve published some books, started a blog and later a travel website and got revenue through advertising, the selling of your T-shirts and doing sponsored promotion work.The reason I know this as there is a radio interview with you on youtube ! Most people are not in that position, do not have access to such “revenue streams”, are on the capitalist treadmill and have partners and/or children to consider.You make it out to be a lot easier than it is and that’s before you consider the environmental damage all this travel of yours does.
To reiterate, I travelled on my own dime, saving and paying my own way for the better part of 15 YEARS before I even started this business. I have been at te bottom of that corporate treadmill and clawed my way up. I travelled long before I even started my former career. The fact that my business is successful now takes nothing from that nor does it change the fact that I made travel a priority when I was younger, or the fact that anyone can do the same. I have never said it is easy, but possible. If you want to make different life choices than me and focus on different things then fine, that’s on you. And my environmental damage?? Please.
Environmental damage? – yes Michael – all those airlines which you fly on without a second thought do indeed pour out tonnes of C02 into the atmosphere so that you can visit the ruined coral reefs in Thailand,walk upon the vanishing beaches in Sri Lanka (sand stolen for the construction of more hotels) or enjoy a city break in Barcelona to an airbnb apartment (locals priced out of the city centre due to property speculation.Odd that you’ve never considered this – or perhaps you have a vested interest in looking the other way.
You obviously haven’t read my articles on avoiding B&B then! 😂 I find it quite funny that you are so concerned about the effects of travel but are so obsessed with following a travel blog. Is it me? You do seem obsessed with trolling me? 😂
This constant need to tear successful people down is a little sad in my opinion. It ispretty obvious Bemused Backpacker is successful and it is obvious that he gets revenue through it but how do you think he got that? Was it just given to him? Just because someone has done well for themselves and you haven’t doesn’t give you the right to try and tear their achievements down.
When someone comes onto a travel blog specifically to complain about you travelling too much and being successful! 😂😂🤣 Jesus Christ Helen, go and have a word with yourself will ya?
I do admire your hard work and acknowledge that it requires sacrifices, but it does require some amount of luck. Just the fact that you have a passport that is more flexible than some others is luck. Some people genuinely can’t travel because they have to spend money and time taking care of sick family members, etc. and can’t even afford things like a house or stability. Nothing wrong with acknowledging your hard work, but yes it does require some luck to even have the opportunities to do that. Travel just can’t always be a priority for everyone, unfortunately, and everyone’s circumstances are different.
The problem with that argument is that first of all I have zero control over certain circumstances and second of all you are making sweeping generalisations and assumptions without knowing a damn thing about me, it’s all well and good saying I am lucky but so what? I could be run over when I step out of the house, I could have an incurable disease and a month to live. I don’t. It is a shame some do and I feel for them but it should be pretty obvious their priorities will be different just as everyone’s circumstances are different. Of course my passport is awesome, but I know many travellers from say the Phillipines or Israel who have travelled far more extensively than even I have despite the relative ‘lack of luck’ that their passport bestows on them. That doesn’t make me ‘lucky’ and I am not going to fawn over how ‘privileged’ I am because that paradigm is ridiculous. Neither am I saying that travel is a priority for everyone. It isn’t. I know many people who never want to travel beyond their two weeks a year in Disneyland. I don’t get it but that’s fine, that is their choice and all the best to them. What I AM saying, for those who DO want to travel as I do there ARE choices and sacrifices that can be made to make that choice a priority. You CAN rise above your circumstance if you choose not to buy into the victim mentality of circumstance. If others want to prioritise a house or a family or a job or whatever else then that’s all good, do that, but don’t turn around and say I am lucky. You make your own luck in this world.
Here we go with the SJW nonsense. Nothing you do is worth anything because it is all down to ‘luck’ and ‘privilege’. Sigh.
You need to check your white privilige, not everyone can do what you do, what about someone from say India who doesn’t have the same privilige you do?
No I don’t. I don’t define myself or others based solely on skin colour, there is a word for that. And I have many Indian friends and know many more who are far more successful and far better travelled than I am, and I am sure there are many who are worse off, or are you saying based solely on their ethnicity they are all one homogeneous group and are defined as such and therefore disadvantaged? There is that specific word again.
You tell that snowflake Mike! Haha! Love it.
Well said. The choices you make in life determine the life you lead, and it is up to you to prioritise the ones that will give you the life you want. No one will give you the perfect life you have to take it.
Couldn’t have said it better myself
This was such an interesting read, I agree wholeheartedly with you on the sentiment that if you want something, you work hard for it, it really is that simple. I really can’t abide this whole notion that if you achieve a degree of success, which it seems you have by a large margin (congratulations by the way on your hard work), you constantly have to ‘check your privelige’, and there are always people willing to try and drag you down. I suspect that this sentiment is often borne out of jealousy and to a large extent laziness. If you haven’t achieved success and you aren’t willing to put the work and sacrifice in to achieve your goals, you don’t get to call anyone who has done that ‘lucky’.
Very well put David, and thank you.
This is such an interesting post and I really do get where others are coming from, I mean yes we are ‘lucky’ that we aren’t born into a warzone or abject poverty, but so what? There are always going to be those who are less fortunate than us and those that are more fortunate than us in a whole variety of different metrics, playing the privelige game of who is more priveliged is just a circular argument. What I do agree with is that the vast majority of us in the West can take control of our lives and make decisions that affect our future, and that also includes following our dreams of travel (or anything else for that matter).
Thanks Sharon, and very well said.
That is the entire point, we wernt born into war or poverty and that makes us priveliged. What is wrong with recognising that fact and recognising that others are less so?
Brilliant article and well articulated.
Thank you very much.
Exactly. Almost everyone I knew from school and college said to me after I returned from my gap year ‘I wish I could travel like you’ and I said ‘you can’. There is no real difference in any meaningful way. Then all the excuses start don’t they. I have bills to pay, um we all do, I have a mortgage, well that was your choice to buy a house and not rent, I have a family, well that was your choice, I have a career, well work around it. It’s all about the choices you make and the priorities you choose.
Well said, those excuses come out all to often when there is nothing stopping those people making those same choices (and then everyone calls you ‘lucky’ because you didn’t choose the house and family and 9 to 5 like they did).
So true. Most people in the west, assuming they aren’t destitute or something, have the means to travel, they just don’t make the necessary sacrifice. You have a house? A car? Well you cam afford to travel, you just made different choices than those who made the choice to travel
I kind of get the attitude of people saying you are so lucky. It’s jealousy. From their point of view they see travel bloggers saying it is so easy to travel, but they don’t see all the work that goes into it, then they look at their own lives and wonder why they can’t do the same because they made different choices. It’s jealousy.
So true Matt, they still don’t get to judge and say I’m lucky though.
See I don’t have any time for this lucky argument either. It doesn’t bother me as such but it is just a load of proverbial. My husband and I made the CHOICE to live the nomad lifestyle and I want to slap people who say they can’t but they all have a fancy car and the latest smartphones. It really is all about choice! Just buy what you NEED, not what you want!
How does it feel to be so ignorant of just how white and male and middle class you are? It must be so nice to have your own little business and enough money to live the lifestyle you want.
It’s pretty awesome thanks. How’s life being so racist, sexist and judgemental?
Oh snap! 😂😂🤣🤣
So refreshing hearing an opinion that isn’t part of the usual ultra liberal social justice sheep mentality. I completely hate being called lucky as well. I work hard for what I have and the things I accomplish. Being called lucky just diminishes that!
Exactly Ray, couldn’t have said it better myself.
You are a privileged man who gets to travel the world and write about it. Well done. Most people don’t get to ever take a holiday never mind make money off it. Men like you are part of the problem in society, you have all the privilege and none of the problems faced by literally every other group. How dare you complain about people calling you out on that privilege? Next time you are taking one of your fancy selfie shots on a cliff overlooking whatever exotic location you are whisked off to for free you may want to do the world a favour and take just one more step off the edge.
I don’t think I’m the one who is the problem in society when you have views like that. But since you asked so nicely next time I am taking one of those photo’s I’ll take one of me doing a little dance and dedicate it just to you! ;D
What a pompous, arrogant, self-righteous bit of codswallop Aaliyah. I think you have a lot of growing up to do.
And who are you to judge?
Privilege is totally subjective. Attempting to apply it universally to a group of people based only on skin color or gender or whatever is inherently prejudiced, racist and sexist.
I honestly think all these people calling you lucky or privileged like this is just a way to rationalise why they haven’t done it themselves. It’s pure jealousy.
It really is Mel.
I appreciate that because of the work I put into doing what I want (ie travel) I am fortunate to be able to travel and have nice things. But I wouldn’t call it privilege or luck. That is all down to me.
It totally is Eli. Well said.
Exactly! If you’d won the lottery or something then fair enough, luck would have something do do with that. Picking a lucky ticket is chance, hard work, priorities and making sacrifices, is not.
Fair enough, if I ever win the lottery, which would be awesome, I will admit that I am very lucky! 😀
YES! I LOVE this! You can have any life you want (provided you are lucky enough not to be hit by a bus when you step outside 😂) You just have to go for it.
Exactly Rachel! And to be fair I will concede that I do feel lucky that I am not hit by a bus every day! 😀
The simple fact is if you can afford to travel the world you ARE lucky. That is a fact.
No it isn’t though, is it? It is your opinion based on a paradigm that is seems most people don’t agree with, that is all.
I can completely see where you are coming from on this and totally agree. It isn’t about appreciating what you have or not it is just about not kotowing to the virtue signalling, entitled snowflakes just screeching privilege at everything.
That is certainly a huge part of it, as well as fundamentally having a different world view to them.
Couldn’t agree with you more if I tried.
Luck or choice? I work hard and save money for travel 😉
Most of the hate in these comments comes from jealousy. They don’t like the choices they have made so lash out because you are living your life the way you want.
Everyone is so quick to judge!! White and male privilege! Hahaha
My reaction too Jean!
Very few people want to take responsibility and achieve their own accomplishments so they find it easier to tear others down and say you are lucky.
That is very true Samantha.
Haters gonna hate! Don’t listen to them Michael. I have been following you on social media and reading your work for years and just wanted to say you are an absolute inspiration not just to me but many others too. You have worked hard to get were you are, you inspired me to do the same, so please enjoy the fruits of that labour and dont let bitter people try and make it all out to be luck.
Thank you so much Kenzie that is really nice of you
Ignore the anger of people on the internet who never created anything themselves.
Haha I do try! Unsuccessfully at times but I try!
Travelling is a privilege. More than that it is a privilege of white men which you prove so well. That is an inescapable fact
No it isn’t, and hell no it definitely isn’t. You don’t just get to say the word ‘fact’ and declare it as such. Where is your proof? Your evidence of your claims? Oh that’s right you don’t have any. Because it is BS.
Well if I’m so wrong why are the majority of travel bloggers white and male? Where are all the poc and female bloggers? Your race and gender have given you incredible privileges and you need to recognise that.
No I really don’t because it just isn’t true. Blogging in general is actually very female dominated and there are plenty of bloggers of every race and background. Two of the three biggest and most successful travel bloggers are not white, so what does that tell you. Can there be more representation? Maybe, that’s not for me to say, but I ask where are the barriers to entry? What is stopping anyone of any race, gender or whatever other group you choose to name from doing this? I think you really need to rethink some fundamental paradigms.
I really do respect you as a blogger as respect the fact that you have achieved so much, but I am genuinely struggling to understand why you just can’t accept the fact you are lucky as well? You CAN work hard and achieve a lot and still be lucky and have the benefits of a range of privileges as a man (ie you are much safer travelling the world) being white (no institutional racism and having no percieved disadvantages to your skin colour) and so many more. I just don’t understand why you don’t acknowledge that.
Well thank you Carla but I respectfully disagree on every point there and I’ll happily explain why.
Primarily it is because I have a fundamentally different paradigm and world view to you and others who push the privilege narrative. I just fundamentally believe you are wrong.
I believe in individualism, not collectivism. I do not judge people on things like the colour of their skin or their gender and certainly don’t assume they are all the same. Each individual has a wide range of privileges and disadvantages based on an entire spectrum of variables, one man may be relatively privileged, the next may not be, their gender has little bearing on that compared to all the other variables that go into it. Just because someone is white or black or whatever does not mean they are automatically privileged or disadvantaged. This collectivism by definition is fundamentally sexist and racist (not to mention classist and a whole host of other ‘ists’) because it judges people only on those characteristics. I hate identity politics with a passion, and identity polltics is at the heart of this privilege argument.
I push back against it because frankly I find it offensive that so many of you think it is okay to force their views on everyone else. I mean how dare I not think like you, right?
And just as an aside for your examples, as a man I am actually much LESS safe travelling the world than a woman since I am statistically significantly much more likely to be the victim of ALL other types of violent crime other than rape, and much more likely to die as a result. Where is my male privilege there? And where is the institutional racism in countries where my skin colour is by definition the minority?
Not everyone has the same views on the world as you do, and that is okay. It’s fine to disagree and ask, but too many are just pushing their views as if they were automatically right.
That is a brilliant and well thought out rational sir, I applaud you for it and agree entirely.
Never thought about it like this before and you are 100% correct.
I’ve often read these same words over the years, I think the author must be privileged or rich, most people I know need to work to pay for travel and decent jobs can be hard to come by, bills must be paid, food on the table.
This is getting boring now, see my above replies and take your ideology elsewhere.
Totally agree. It’s all about the choices you make and it IS hard sometimes watching all your friends and family settle down, get married, have babies and careers and get their first homes, that pressure is definitely there and sometimes it can be tough, but then you look back on the amazing life YOU are living compared to them. It’s a case of the grass is always greener right? And we can always go and have all that later!
That is very well put Sam and I completely agree.
Very thought provoking post and one that I can relate to. I too have travelled for a long time and lie you felt that pressure to settle down, buy that house, get that career, just like all my old friends were doing, but frankly I just didn’t want that and wanted to travel instead. I did feel that thing about being left out sometimes but I made that choice and I am happy with it.
I know exactly what you mean Rochelle, and as long as you are happy then that was the right decision for you! ;D
Luck has only a little bit to do with it. It’s all about motivation, desire and determination to see the world. It is about the choices you make, not anyone else, and just because other people are lets just say less fortunate than you or they don’t have a desire to physically get out there and travel that doesn’t make you ‘lucky’ or ‘priveliged’, not in the way it is often meant.
Very true, and it is the meaning and ideology behind the term that is so ‘problematic’ to borrow a term from the left.
Accept that you are priveliged and embrace it.
I actually met you once and you were so nice, so funny and pleasant to be around. I’m horrified that you can’t seeand recognise just how privilleged you are because you are white and you are a man and I am really disappointed in you and a little sad.
So I am a different person than the one you met because we have different political views? Well I’m sorry you feel that way.
Not a different person no but you need to recognise just how much your race and gender make you privilleged compared to poc and other marginalised groups. Anyone who cares about inequality and other people should recognise that.
Well that’s the thing Sophie, I’m sorry you feel that way but my political leanings don’t mean I don’t care about various issues, just that I may have a different take on them than you do.
Not a different person but you have shown your true Nazi colors and I can’t believe you and your website haven’t been taken down already!
Wow, so because I don’t judge people on race or gender or any other immutable characteristic and believe in individualism rather than collectivism I am suddenly a member of a far right German political party in the 40s? I think you have things a little backward there!
Backward? Gemma’s gone full unhinged! I don’t think she has a full grasp on reality tbh!
Well to be fair it is hardly surprising discussions like this bring out the unhinged like Gemma there, trying to do the mental gymnastics to model their intersectional modes of privelige and oppression and place them on the oppression scale is a huge brain rattle for their tiny little minds!
I can’t believe some of the comments here. White male privelige is the ability to travel wherever you like without having to worry about being treated inhumanely or face racism or sexism or bigotry. Sigh.
I’ve faced some of that in these comments. From you. Bigger sigh.
How about just admitting you have white male privilege and that is why you can travel all over the world. Some people have to focus on school or work or provide or care for families! Others are working onminimum wage.
That’s right, there are plenty of people worse off or who make different choices for whatever reason, and some of those people are white! And yet others who are poc or women do even better than I do, so how is that white male privilege? It has NOTHING to do with the colour of your skin or your gender and everything to do with individual circumstances and choices.
How about admitting you are an insufferable bore and no one cares about your crappy progressive politics? Bemused Backpacker is absolutely right to reject identity politics. Just stop trying to ruin everything? And just for your information I AM a woman of colour so stop speaking for me.