To travel is a privilege. Even when it feels as though everything seems to be going wrong – ill in hospital, not speaking a local language or Delhi Belly – we’re lucky enough to have had the opportunity to get out and see the world.
It’s a privilege and sadly, this right if often taken for granted.
I recently had adequate time to reflect on this privilege. I was on 18 flights in 36 days. I took in three countries, three Australian cities and was lucky enough to get into two airport lounges.
I experienced everything from low cost carriers to full service, from 3-star flat mattresses to an upgrade at the Hilton.
I’ve chatted with happy bell boys on $2 a day to the stunning, wealthy lady tolerating domestic violence because it keeps the credit card in the black.
I write to you from 38,000 feet, Radiohead easing me through the blur of timezones lost and confused. The gentle curvature of the A380 wings seducing me with their grandeur over an ocean described in Arabic in front of me.
This trip is about privilege.
I blew all my points on an upgrade to First Class. My Agent told me “14.5 hours – this is the flight to blow them on”. I will never pay it. But to do it once will always be remembered. Special.
There were others whose familiarity showed how many times they flew first class. With their kids. Sydney to Heathrow, return, which for three of them is a good portion of a house deposit. The kids face booked whilst downstairs excitable couples spent half as much for an entire family on the trip of a lifetime.
The Qantas steward lover her job; happy to work in this section of the plane. A little more relaxed, a bit more fun, room for personality. 4 days out of 8 though she is away from family.
Following some confusion between the Shiraz and the Cab Sav, I heard a passenger say something like “like SHE would know ….” . What an arse. Privilege can lead to people being pricks.
I’ve done hundreds of horribly, sleepless flights on crappy seats, bored out of my brain. Extra legroom was a privilege. An aisle seat where I could see the fold down screen was a bonus. Seatback entertainment system? In the scheme of things, wow.
To travel is a privilege.
In 1980 I flew back to my birthplace, Whyalla, as a solo flyer, on a Fokker Friendship, with TAA. The 200 or so dollars would have been close to a monthly mortgage repayment . Later I would bemoan only seeing my natural dad three times a year, flown return to Adelaide, forgetting my mum had remarried a guy who took me in, put me through school, treated me like his own blood.
Only the perspective that travel brought a decade later that taught me how much of an unappreciative brat I must have seemed, privileged to get out of a mining town with minimal opportunities.
Like many entrepreneurs I’ve done the beans and rice phase, wondering how I could withdraw $17 from an ATM. I won’t forget. It might explain my lack of flash and discomfort with being called sir. It’s my baseline. Slum kids in India or beggars in Manchester. I don’t shop for cost on airfares, I shop for convenience, points and familiarity. The $10 I disregard would feed a family. That’s privilege.
The real privilege travel keeps revealing to me, every time?
Coming home. I live in the “pointy end” of the world. I’ve won the lottery.
The greatest privilege in travel?
The privilege of knowing that I am privileged.
Do you often forget the privilege of travel?
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