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Why Telling People ‘To Drop Everything And Go’ Is Completely Unrealistic

I want it, too. I want to leave behind all my worries at my job, in my classes, with my family and embark on the open road with my best friend or my boyfriend, a few days worth of cardigans, some blankets, Ray-Bans and my wanderlust spirit.

I want ethereal re-blogged captions on the travel tag on Tumblr or the wanderlust tag on Pinterest about how “adventure is out there” to inspire me to “drop everything and just travel the world,” taking in the chipper sounds of birds and drinking out of my thermos and listening to Bon Iver and wow life is so peaceful when there’s dirt from the sweet, sweet earth in my Birkenstocks.

I want VSCO-cammed pictures about the simple, whimsical life in the mountains, among the trees, with my flannel and backpack to be as simple and whimsical as they seem. But they’re not. None of this is.

Do you know how much money this “adventure” will cost you? A week in Europe will cost you around $2,000 per couple and a cross-country road-trip across the United States with a few friends will cost you anywhere between $700 and $1,300, and each of these prices only considers the most dirt-cheap options possible.

What about the cost of Visas for that out-of-country trip? Can you “drop” these amounts, “drop” days from your job, “drop” your responsibilities — including calling your parents, paying rent and utilities and bills, and showering a normal amount — and just go?

Maybe you saved up some money and time… which is great. Now that you’re on the road, do you know exactly where you’re going? Do you know if it’s safe? Tourist-targeted crimes are dangerously common, so if you are traveling out of the country or to a state where you’re likely to stand out regionally, make sure you know what’s up.

Do you know where you’re lodging? If you are on some kind of budget, you probably want to stay somewhere cheap, but did you thoroughly research these locations to see if they are secure?

Has anyone reported accounts of thievery? Hotel or motel room invasion, specifically, is not legally considered a federal offense in the United States, so you may not have heard about instances of it because it was reported as a “normal” robbery or burglary.

Cheap hotels or motels have more crime because of the rapid clientele turnover rates; as more people pass through cheap, affordable motels more quickly, owners don’t have enough time to perform background checks on everyone.

Additionally, rooms in cheap hotels and motels aren’t stocked with cleaning products like disinfectants, vacuum cleaners or mops because they’re designed to cater to short-term guests. This means rooms quickly deteriorate without housekeepers, another service that cheap motels don’t offer anyway, and this will decrease the quality of the motel.

And during off-seasons and inevitable times when the motel is unkept, owners might have trouble turning potentially undesirable customers away for the sheer fact that the establishment needs money.

Do you know exactly where you’re going? Do the tourism spots you want to visit cost money? The National Park Service of the US Department of the Interior charges $80 for an annual pass to national parks and wildlife refuges. What about museums? There are over 3,700 museums in the United States to choose from, and many of them also charge a fee.

Are you not looking to engage in tourism and are instead trying to find a remote location, roped off from nationally protected amusements? Make sure you consider the prospect of dangerous animals and bugs, the challenges of driving and walking through a rough and unguarded terrain, and the possibility of getting lost because the location is so remote that it doesn’t even exist on a map.

Where and what will you eat? Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the road every day — for breakfast, lunch and dinner — will probably get boring. Did you account for any splurge meals?

After all, this is a vacation, so you’ll likely want to eat out at regional restaurants at least a few times to enhance your cultural experience; what would be the point of traveling to a new place if you can’t fully immerse yourself?

Look, nobody wants to think about any of this when they travel. “Wanderlust” is not associated with practical elements like high costs, crime rates, lodging costs and infectious, foreign mosquitos.

The truth is that the worry-free wanderlust that we all strive for on Tumblr is reserved for those who have the time and money to be worry-free.

The Shullman Research Center is the leading tracker of expectations, behaviors and plans of people in the United States based on their income. A January 2014 report suggested that approximately 90 percent of adults who make an annual salary of $250,000 or more say that traveling for pleasure (not including luxury traveling) is on their to-do list for the next 12 months.

An average of 36 percent of those with a salary of $250,000 or more planned on luxury traveling. When adults of all salaries were averaged into the statistics, only 60 percent planned on pleasure traveling and only 12 percent planned on luxury traveling.

Wealthy people can afford to take off from work on a whim and stay in expensive, well-kept lodging without worrying about crime. They don’t have to worry about packing food and whether or not that food will go bad because they can dine in good restaurants.

This is not to say that traveling is only for the wealthy; this is, however, definitely to say that the carefree, go-with-the-flow state of wanderlust catalogued all throughout the Internet is.

Worry-free wanderlust is also reserved for white men who hold the social power in virtually all areas of the world. I recently uncovered a blog post by a man named Matt Kepnes who said that you don’t have to be rich to travel. He countered expensive lodging costs by suggesting staying with locals, hitchhiking or housesitting.

Well, women don’t have the luxury to just hop in a stranger’s car or stay with a “friendly” local. We have to hope he doesn’t lock us up in his dude ranch in Montana and sexually assault us.

If you’re traveling throughout the United States or even to other countries, you have to consider the variety of ways that a specific culture views women and act accordingly.

It is a depressing reality that female tourists are targets of crime all the time. In February 2013, a 33-year-old American tourist, Sarai Sierra, was killed in Turkey after she rejected a Turkish man’s attempt to kiss her.

A few months later in June, an American tourist was raped in a store in Israel. This past March, a British woman stayed at a luxury hotel in Egypt and was raped by a security guard.

Prominent national groups, including the United States State Department, UN Women (an organization focused on gender equality) and nongovernmental organizations don’t track violence against American female tourists. Experts tell the New York Times, however, that crimes against females could be increasing because more women are traveling alone and to more obscure locations than ever.

Maybe it’s for the Instagrams, but maybe it’s for the real benefits of traveling: Learning to be social, bolstering your confidence and allowing yourself the chance to learn about a whole new culture. Traveling is truly fantastic and life-changing.

But when a filtered Pinterest photo of a globe has a caption that says, “I wanna travel the world with you, go to every country, take pictures and be happy,” I just think, “I wanna budget my time wisely, make sure the countries I go to are safe, focus less on pictures and more on the food I’m going to eat, and be practical” would be way better.

With maybe a picture of some money instead of the globe.

Photo Courtesy: Tumblr

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Alexia LaFata

Digital Editor

Alexia LaFata is a Deputy Editor. She's a proud New Jersey native and Boston College graduate. When she's not writing, she's watching documentaries, practicing her Cher impression, or eating pasta. Stalk her at alexialafata.com.
Alexia LaFata is a Deputy Editor. She's a proud New Jersey native and Boston College graduate. When she's not writing, she's watching documentaries, practicing her Cher impression, or eating pasta. Stalk her at alexialafata.com.

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