Reasons not to travel 2017
The best season to travel abroad is when ‘ICE’ melts.
March 1, 2017
Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.
Email This Story
I don’t tell people I have only crossed state lines once in my life because I am ashamed. Not of myself, though. Not of the low-income life that I have known and grown into, which denies such luxuries as twenty-hour flights to Saigon or Sweden. Shame comes in many forms; but what I find most overwhelmingly shameful about the nuisance which people call “wanderlust,” is the lack of compassion felt for local communities made impoverished by the post-colonial act of travel.
No, I don’t plan on going abroad anytime soon. In fact, I’ve only been to Oregon once for a family event – which I mostly dreaded. And as you read this, I will be on a plane to San Francisco, heading to a journalism conference I didn’t think I would be able to attend because of my tight work schedule. Not only does this trip come as an inconvenience for work and school, but it comes at a time when the privilege of American citizenship is most valuable.
Even domestic flights are not safe from the crackdown on immigration, apparently. Last week, Customs and Border Patrol refused to let anyone off a Delta plane that landed in New York without checking their identification, reports an article by Gothamist. Passenger Matt O’Rouke specified that a flight attendant on board announced, “Please have your papers ready,” several times, which disconcerted passengers. CPB officials maintained that they were assisting Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the persecution of someone who had a criminal background and that the behaviour was not unusual.
The incident, as the article suggests, is a result of the travel ban implemented by President Donald Trump’s administration.
I know. We can’t stop talking about immigration. But how am I supposed to go abroad when there are refugees suffering abroad (because of U.S. intervention in the Middle East, Mexico, Latin America, etc.) who are being denied access into America? When children’s parents are arrested by ICE, and they are left wondering when they will see their mothers and fathers again. When students are wondering if they will be deported at school. When “foreigners” are being targeted by the likes of piss-beer drinking, cotton-hooded, white terrorists — we continue to book flights, download language apps and bask in the glory of culture and modernity?
My conscience is too weak with empathy to justify the weight of luggage and souvenirs. As for my peers who do not live in fear and continue to travel, especially south of the border, or to countries which are risque in order to expand their horizons and chase expensive thrills: I hope you are staying critical of your behaviour. I hope you are researching the communities you visit, preferably on a historical continuum — not just the local tourism. I hope you understand that the reason you are able to enjoy the food in Oaxaca or the beaches of Boracay is paid in part by hundreds of years of colonial violence and imperialism. But, good job on saving all of that money for your airfare and hotel — don’t forget your SPF 50 sun screen.
No, I have never been to Mexico. Because my mother can not go back. For safety, for solidarity, for those silenced and weary and longing for their home away from home — I can not go.
Yes, there are plenty of “naturalized” citizens who work hard and travel, either back to their home countries or beyond. But the privilege that is attached to assimilation allows for people to be complacent and insensitive when it comes to travel, contributing to the exotification of countries with vacation destinations.
When search engine entries for vacations offer the “safest places in the Middle East,” or as Forbes documents in a December clickbait article titled The 21 Best Budget Travel Destinations For 2017, “Northern Vietnam is where the most sensational scenery and culture can be found. Rice terraces, towering mountains, twisting roads and ethnic minority people all add to the adventure.”
When you book your budget flight and gaze upon wide, rural landscapes, note the “ethnic minority people.” Note the ebb and flow. And appreciate the work and toil on land which you have deemed paradise.