With the current state of the world these days, notably, the prominence of migration crises, I wanted to explore the imbalance between those with the means and liberty to travel the world freely, and those with a far more restricted access to the world. It’s actually quite crazy if you think about it. We are all born on this earth, and yet we grant the privilege of enjoying it only to a few. The wanderer, once regarded with such bohemian romanticism, must now meet certain criteria. S/he must be of a desirable strain. This is seen with the disdain which the term ‘economic migrant’ tends to conjure, especially when pertaining to African and Middle Eastern migrants. An ‘economic migrant’ has become something dirty. It seems that expatriates come only from the 1st world.
Indeed, selectivity when it comes to travel isn’t really all that new if you think about Lord Byron and his popularising of the Grand Tour, for example. This was something associated with the higher classes starting around the 17th Century. An educational privilege. But even before that, there have been pilgrims seeking the holy lands. And even before that, humans were a migratory species. That is how we have come to be spread across the entire planet, by travelling and seeking a place where we believe we can belong and thrive.
It was and still is natural for the human species to seek a new home in the wake of unrest, whether it be due to natural disasters or war. The human body was made to travel. Migration is inherently human. For many, it is a necessity if they are to survive.
Travelling is a wonderful experience. So much can be learnt from visiting a new country and experiencing a new language and culture. Lately, the problem of ‘overtourism’ has become more highlighted. Cities such as Barcelona and Venice are pushing back at the great number of tourists swamping their cities. Travelling has become a fad for some people. It’s more a case of being able to tick places off a list and post pictures on Instagram than an opportunity to truly learn about a different country and its people. Even this type of travel is dictated by the passport you carry. A German can travel to 188 countries visa free, whereas someone from Afghanistan can only travel to 30. (https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/henley-index-world-best-passport-2019-intl/index.html)
The lure of adventure and the romance of travel are advertised as something for everyone, but in the end, clearly this is not the case. Not everyone can afford to have sudden wanderlust, and not everyone is allowed to pack up and jump on a plane to start their life anew. We are all born into this world but some of us are trapped behind walls.