Addressing Travel Privilege As A Nomadic Family

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Last week was our first week as a nomadic family! I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge what a blessing it is to be able to have this experience! And I also wanted to acknowledge the travel privilege we have in leading this lifestyle.

It was a whirlwind week of packing up and moving out of our house, finishing up our last week of school and work, and figuring out all the final things we need to do to get our lives on the road.

This post was updated on May 5, 2020.


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An airport terminal, truly a travel privilege for those who can afford to travel

The travel privilege intrinsic in this nomadic lifestyle

As we’ve been talking to people about our travel plans, I’m reminded of how lucky we are to be able to do this. Although we have worked hard to get to this point in our lives and our careers (developing the skills that will allow us to make money remotely and planning all the details that go into an around the world trip), we realize becoming a nomadic family affords us a lot of travel privilege.

Rick Steves talks about privilege in travel in his book, Travel As A Political Act. And for families, especially, it’s important to acknowledge this privilege in order to model responsible behavior for our kids. Sometimes this acknowledge can even include giving back to the communities we visit during our traves.

We know not all families can do what we do. We also know that even the act of travel itself is a privilege. As we finish packing up our lives here in Seattle, I wanted to take a moment to unpack and acknowledge some of the travel privilege that comes with family travel. Hopefully, throughout our three years of travel, we will remain mindful of this privilege.

A couple walking into Pike Place Market in Seattle, WA
Pike Place Market in Seattle (July 2018)

Being able to afford travel

We are not independently wealthy, and neither do we make high six figure incomes. In actuality, we are making travel work because we have skill sets that allow us to be location independent, thus allowing us to make money while we’re on the road. But even when we were more location based, we were still able to afford to travel as a family, and for that we are grateful.

Some families have jobs that are more location based and some families aren’t able to take time off for travel. We certainly are lucky to be able to do both.

Paper money from Paraguay, that families can use, an example of travel privilege for a nomadic family
Paraguayan money (April 2013)

The value of a passport

In the grand scheme of things, the American passport is very valuable. Even though the American passport doesn’t rank number one in allowing the most visa-free travel in the world (that designation falls on Singapore), it definitely ranks in the top 20. Having a passport is a travel privilege, and we are appreciative of the freedom of movement it affords us.

passport, journal, and sunglasses
My passport, sunglasses, and journal (May 2018)

The standard family unit

In many countries, the idea of a family is simply a mother, a father, and children. Any other configuration of family – single parent, two fathers, two mothers, unmarried parents – is not even considered, and sometimes even looked down upon.

As we travel, we won’t need to worry about some of the challenges that our single parent friends or gay friends may face, and that certainly puts us in a position of privilege.

Enjoying the Ride the Ducks tour in Seattle (July 2018)

Being able to blend in

In America, the color of our skin sometimes puts us at a disadvantage. But in some of the places we plan to travel, our skin color may actually help us blend in.

When we’re in Asia, people hardly bat an eye when they see us walk by. And even in South America and Africa, I anticipate that our skin color won’t attract as much attention as other families with much lighter or darker pigmentation. This ability to blend in will in some ways keep us safe while we travel, and hopefully allow for more positive experiences.

The kids playing on a jungle gym in downtown Seattle (July 2018)

Acknowledging our travel privilege

I write all this not to brag about how lucky we are, but to point out that there are many advantages that we hold as travelers. Acknowledging our travel privilege is only the first part.

As we move in this world as a nomadic family, I want to make sure that we remain mindful of that privilege in our interactions with others. And I hope that we can also use our privilege to advocate for and support others who may not be as lucky as us.

What kind of travel privilege do you hold when you travel? How do you remain mindful of your privilege and not misuse it?

Acknowledging Travel Privilege as a Nomadic Family | The Wandering Daughter

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I'm a travel-loving mom of three from Seattle. Join our adventures as we explore the Pacific Northwest and the world!

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