Travel Inspiration for Everyone — Not Just Rich White Dudes

We’ve seen the headlines gracing mainstream media and the top travel blogs.

“Every Travel Excuse in the World! Busted!”
“Everyone can Travel, Here’s How!”
“Look at Me! Some Rich White Dude with No Responsibilities and a Trust Fund to Fall Back on! If I can do It, You can Too!”

I’m not going to be that person who flashes my white-privileged, USA-passport-holding, support-network-having smile and make the blanket statement of Yes! You can travel if you work hard enough for it!

Because that’s not always the case. Maybe you can’t travel now because of financial constraints, family responsibilities, passport restrictions, or other obstacles that I am not qualified to judge you on. Those issues shouldn’t be belittled by other travel articles that over simplify real complications. Fortunately, there’s a Pacific garbage patch sized amount of travel information for all types of people and circumstances.  

The travel writing scene is dominated by one particular demographic (ahem, white, straight, affluent, Americans/UK citizens), meaning the advice you receive in the pages of the high-selling glossy magazines or on the top bloggers websites might not be as relevant to someone outside of the writer’s demographic. Seriously, look at this list of top bloggers. It’s a stretch to say more than 10% fall outside of the demographic I outlined above. Not that there’s anything wrong with this group of people *points finger away from self,* it’s just not very representative.

I have no idea what this menu says.

Should you really even take my advice?

I’d love to inspire everyone in the world to travel, but I can only answer concerns that pertain to my demographic. I don’t know what cities in Europe are wheelchair accessible, how black people are treated in Asia, or what it’s like to globe-trot with kids, a disability, or lesbian partner. So, I’ve addressed what I can, and left other issues to the travelers who know best.

As a note, once I started diving into topics, it became so easy to find more. There are thousands of travelers out there who fit into every category. I could spend weeks adding to this resource, but after a few days of stop-and-go reading posts and placing them on here, I had to publish. This post is by no means comprehensive, but could give you a good start on where to find more about your interests and concerns. Let me know what I’ve missed.

This post will provide resources on

  • Traveling to an unknown (scary) region
  • Traveling on a budget
  • Traveling solo
  • Traveling as a person of color
  • Traveling with a physical disability
  • Traveling with mental illness
  • Traveling as LGBTQA
  • Traveling with kids
  • Traveling at all sizes
  • Traveling with a restrictive passport
  • …and more! This page will be frequently updated (especially with your help!)

But [Tragedy] Happened in [Area]. Isn’t It Dangerous?

I see this question coming from my American friends, at a time when the rest of the world is often terrified of visiting the gun-slingin’ Yankeedoodles. Don’t be fooled into thinking that where you are now is safer than elsewhere in the world. The media can often paint a disturbing picture of how a region is portrayed, one that’s likely to be different on how the locals perceive it.

Precautions need to be taken everywhere. Never walk alone at night in a strange place. Never leave your drink unattended. Always keep friends and family updated on your whereabouts.

But what’s media influence and what’s reality? My strategy is to read the government travel advisory, search for blog posts on travelers who have recently been there, and ask around. I do as much research as possible to gain a bigger understanding of the region, and trust advice from those who have actually been and have little financial interest in their advice. Who is making money by spreading a certain message?  Travel agencies make money by portraying a place as safe. The mainstream media makes money by portraying a place as dangerous.

You need to use your best judgement and resist falling into the trap of relaxing just because you’re in a city with a safe reputation… or avoiding a city with a bad one.

Opens Wallet, Sees Nothing. I’m Broke!

I’m not in the camp that believes you should spend all of your money on travel. Oops. You should, however, live a simple lifestyle, maintain a savings account, and separate account for travel. To do this, I’ve cut off most of my unnecessary expenses. I don’t go out to eat. I don’t shop (often). I don’t subscribe to any entertainment, fitness, or non-business memberships. If you want a detailed post on how I save for travel, you can check out this post on some travel and money-saving strategies.

Six months of travel on $3,500. It can be done.

Many truly can’t afford to travel. But maybe you can, and you’re in the mindset that you can’t. Do you shop for clothes when you have a closet full at home? Do you eat at restaurants? Do you love a good ‘bargain’? Maybe you can afford to travel after all. $20 is a day of accommodation and food in many parts of the world. Are you throwing days of money away on random junk?

That’s Me! Party of One. I’ll be Too Lonely.

The likelihood that the people you know will have the same schedule, budget, and interest in going on the trip you’re planning is often low. If you wait for someone to join you, you could be waiting forever. The ironic thing about traveling solo is that it’s rare to be truly alone, especially since solo travel is gaining popularity, and solo travelers tend to draw towards one another. If you travel with a friend to rely on, you’re likely to meet fewer people. If you’re in a relationship, you can read my (yikes, so personal) post on why travel isn’t the death of a long-term relationship for tactics on how to cope with missing your loved one at home.

Strategies for overcoming loneliness:

  • Stay in a hostel. Hostels can be noisy and disgusting, but they’re your best chance for meeting other travelers, or joining up with a group. Even if you can afford a hotel, you might want to opt for a hostel stay because of the community. Join walking tours and don’t be afraid to invite a hostel-mate out for food. Remember, eating is the universal bonding activity.
  • Join a group tour. I know, you’re a solo traveler, which means you’re supposed to be brave and scoff a things like group tours. Not so fast. There’s nothing wrong with having someone knowledgeable show you around a new city. This is a great way to meet people without the awkwardness of instigating the activity or conversation.
  • Try Couchsurfing. Couchsurfing is my favorite way to combat loneliness and see a city from a local’s perspective. Unfortunately, the website is infested with weirdos, but I’ve written a guide on how to weed out the creeps. Never stay with someone who doesn’t have a reference, and scan to see that they’ve hosted all types of people. Couchsurfing is amazing when used for its intended purpose.
  • Attend meet-up groups: Couchsurfing meet-ups, MeetUp.com, and Facebook events all have opportunities to find friends in a new land. Search for “(City) Backpacker” to find fellow travelers, and ask locals where they go to make friends.
  • Tag along with a local: Especially in Asia, my favorite question to ask a tuk-tuk driver or daily tour guide is, “Where would you go if you had the day off? Can you take me?” followed of course by, “I’ll pay you.” You’ll make a friend and see places in the world that only locals know to go.
My host in Paris was a guardian angel when a friend and I were stranded with no place to sleep in the middle of the night.

My host in Paris was a guardian angel when a friend and I were stranded with no place to sleep in the middle of the night.

Other Topics: Inspiration From More Qualified Travelers

Other worries centered around skin color, sexual orientation, physical ability, and more also surface in the minds of travelers. Here are my favorite bloggers and writers who will inspire you to see the places you’ve always wanted to go, no matter what your concerns might be. Many bloggers cross sections, and fall into multiple categories though I might have only placed them in one. (If I’ve missed an issue you’d like me to cover – I know I’ve missed a lot – please let me know.)

As a general resource, Wanderful has hundreds of posts tackling travel issues that go outside of the mainstream, especially for women.

Traveling as a Person of Color

Gloria in Milan. Photo via The Blog Abroad

Traveling With a Physical Disability

Photo via Curb Free with Cory Lee

  • Have Wheelchair, Will Travel is written by a traveling family of four. The mother writes about all the nuances that come with traveling with their 20-year-old son who is nonverbal with cerebral palsy. (This could also go into the family travel section below! Particularly if one of your family members is disabled.)
  • Traveling with Chronic Illness: From Frugal First Class Travel (also a great financial resource)
  • Jay on Life: is a disabled woman of color who blogs about “traveling while crip” with polio.

When You’re Not Always OK: Traveling with Mental Illness

Public Whipping for Being Gay? Traveling as LGBTQA

Photo via The Nomadic Boys

Photo via The Nomadic Boys

Brats in Tow: What about Traveling with Kids?

I’m not Travel-Sized

It’s a fact. Thai clothes are microscopic.

My Passport has Restrictions

Not all passports are equal. Due to economic and political reasons, your passport might be the one thing preventing you from going where you want to go. For example, passports from Afghanistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Lebanon only allow access to less than 40 countries — compared to a U.S. passport that allows access to 174 countries.

Mainstream media is targeted towards one community - here's inspiration for LBGT, POC, travelers with disabilities, mental illness, and more!

This is a small, not-very-thorough post on the topics above. Help me make this page better. Do you have any favorite bloggers I’ve forgotten? Are you someone who focuses on these topics? Throw ideas in the comments, or send over an email. If you know someone who could use some inspiration, send this their way.

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44 Responses

  1. Emily says:

    This is a GREAT post. It’s so easy to forget your privilege. And the resources you’ve shared are fab. I’ll be sharing this. 🙂

    My other half has Type 1 Diabetes – we haven’t blogged about it yet, but plan to in the future. Wherever we go, our bags are packed with insulin, needles, other medical junk. We plan where all nearby medical resources are. It’s pretty intense to know that within 24hrs, we could be facing a medical emergency.
    Emily recently posted…The Railway In Budapest That’s Run By ChildrenMy Profile

    • Chantae says:

      Thanks Emily! Ah yeah, see that’s just another element that adds to someone’s particular travel situation. If you two do blog about it, please send it over – would love to read 🙂

  2. Katie says:

    Chantae, this is a beautiful resource!! So appreciate your sharing links/bloggers of other backgrounds/POVs while acknowledging your own privilege, and, perhaps more importantly, declining to speak for anyone else (which, we all know, straight/affluent/white people love to do). Thanks for this effort 🙂 Just another reason you remain one of my favorite bloggers to follow!
    Katie recently posted…Paradise in Cape Leveque and Middle Lagoon: The Gibb River Road-Kimberley Adventure, Part VMy Profile

  3. Sona Sethi says:

    A great one stop resource for many tips and tricks of travel. Really appreciate you sharing this with us. Will definitely keep note.
    Sona Sethi recently posted…Complete Guide of Things to Do LombokMy Profile

  4. Epepa says:

    You did a piece of good work by writing this blog post. Lots of information there and I suppose it could be helpful for many people.

  5. Joanna says:

    I so relate to your post and I hate those newspapers and magazines that promote rich kids that travel without making an impact behind them. Most of us were born poor and we learned since we were kids the “art of surviving”. I am coming from Romania, a country where people don’t go further than an all-inclusive in Greece in summer or a ski holiday in Austria in winter. Recently, a Romanian girl died in Nepal because she was caught in a landslide. Everyone then started to blame her and say she was stupid for leaving alone, or she was a “hipster”. But I know the truth, as I am like her. That girl worked her ass off for a year to be able to afford the plane ticket and went there to hike a well known trail, safe, thirsty for discovering the world. She was a traveler, and she was unlucky. I am like her, I am thirsty for travel and I am going to far away places, like Peru, India, Cuba…. and people don’t get it why or how I can afford it. And they don’t know how much sacrifice goes behind every trip. It’s not all milk and honey, as they say…
    Joanna recently posted…Shoreditch Street Art Tour: A Visual EssayMy Profile

    • Chantae says:

      Oh wow, thanks for sharing your story. It’s really sad that the girl was blamed for her death – that’s horrible and not OK. Tragedies happen everywhere, and you can’t escape death anywhere in the world. That mentality is so wrong. I can definitely see how you relate to her adventurous spirit. The important thing is that YOU know what the behind-the-scenes are like in your life. I’m sure you inspire other Romanian girls to travel as well! Keep it up 😀

  6. This is a great post. It deals with lots of topics that are necessary to deal with and talk about but many do not talk about it openly or quite as often as they should be talked about.
    Subhadrika Sen recently posted…Leeds: A One Day TourMy Profile

  7. This was a great idea and I love that you linked to bloggers who have written about some of these topics (traveling with a same-sex partner or as a black woman) instead of just paraphrasing. To the list of meeting people while solo traveling I would add using BlaBlaCar in Europe. It’s ride sharing like Uber but between cities.
    Stella the Travelerette recently posted…The Best Things to Do in BrusselsMy Profile

  8. Great post you must have by now cleared much of the apprehensions people must be having about travels and definitely helped us shut some mouths who from their comfortable couch keep shooting us questions on our passion for travel. Thanks for that 😉

  9. Ami says:

    Very practical tips and I love the way you have linked it to relevant articles. Travel is not easy and yes, these tips do make it easier for some. Well done.

  10. Christina says:

    This is such a good resource! I like how you have included expert advice based on your own experiences then point to others who have had different experiences than you have. Thanks so much for including us in the list of family travel bloggers!
    Christina recently posted…Experience The Great Spirit Circle Trail of Manitoulin IslandMy Profile

  11. Vyjay says:

    This is a very candid post that explodes many myths. Travel is not all about perfection and those picture perfect post cards. There is much more to it below all the icing an the froth. A wonderful perspective of travel and a treasure trove of valuable resources in the post.
    Vyjay recently posted…Ringing in the Morning in Bewakoof StyleMy Profile

  12. Komang Ayu says:

    what you say is true. I often want to travel with other people, but they always say do not have the money and time. but I do not like to traveling solo, it made are like a lonely person.

  13. Swayam says:

    I’d say that safety lies in one’s own hands to a certain limit. This doesn’t mean that the police doesn’t do its job but the primary responsibility for one’s safety lies unto oneself.
    Once again, a great and insightful post from you, it is always a pleasure reading up on you.
    Swayam recently posted…Places to Visit in Delhi-Hauz Khas VillageMy Profile

  14. A very thorough and interesting post that will resonate with lots of people who want to travel, but are put off by the cost and the “media hype” that is published in papers and magazines. I DO think that common sense is also a tool that we mist all employ when travelling, as well as being culturaly aware of the country you are visiting too.
    Karen Burns-Booth recently posted…Easy Balsamic, Honey & Chilli SalmonMy Profile

  15. Chantae, I love this post and all the tips you’ve given, but I think I’ve had a different experience than yours. And I certainly don’t agree with some of the opinions I’ve seen (For example, I don’t know of any city in Europe where black skin isn’t welcome. There are definitely more than 5). Maybe it’s because I’m from an Eastern European country, but I’ve always been exposed to a variety of blogging voices. From travel guide writers (for Lonely planet), to local travelers who shared my pre and post EU membership travel ordeals, gay, solo, and family travelers. I pretty much never felt there was a lack of representation in travel blogging. You can find anything, from budget to luxury, from mainstream to the craziest adventures ever.

    The one issue I have been dealing with is coping with solo stuff while traveling. Years ago, being on my own was something I dreaded. Later on, after packing my car and driving myself through Europe, my perspective changed. It helped having friends to stop and visit with on the way.

    The one thing I regret not trying is hostels. I have almost always needed the privacy and steady internet of a hotel when traveling, because I almost always had to work while on the road. So, in this case, if you have friends you can bunk with, I totally recommend it. Gives you a knowledgeable local guide and a friend to hand out with, all in one 😀
    Alina Popescu recently posted…Next Trip: Mixing Business and Pleasure in BerlinMy Profile

    • Chantae says:

      Oh that’s interesting and you must be reading from some great sources if you’re finding representation that widespread 🙂 I’ll have to dig through your travel media collection someday :). I’m not sure if we can fully understand where black skin is welcome and where it isn’t as we don’t have that experience when we travel. I was shocked to hear that many cities that I think of as progressive or accepting are viewed much differently than other (not white) travelers.

      That’s great travel so independently now 😀 Ah, and totally agree about crashing with friends – that’s the best 🙂

  16. Blair Villanueva says:

    so cool and very informative post! You are right about travel bloggers who uses their white-privilege to gain access for anything and brag it online.. I also suggest to my readers to better try it themselves, either travel or a product and make their own judgment.

  17. Suanlee says:

    This is SUCH a refreshing post to read! Thank you so much Chantae for speaking your mind and sharing your thoughts and ideas. Always such a pleasure to read and I will be book marking this for re-visits as there are some really great links in here. This post is such a useful tool for a shift or acknowledgement of perspectives and it’s much needed. I am still trying to find my blogging voice so this has helped point me in a few directions, particularly as I am also finding so many people trying to follow mainstream ideas about what to write about or they are focusing so much on turning themselves into a commodity with the same bland self-absorbed stuff, rather than interesting reads or sharing lessons, experiences or cultural awareness that they may have gained from travelling (which has sort of put me off a bit). I’ve got to focus on turning my website into what I want it to be, rather than bogged down by the same vapid “luxury” stuff I have been exposed to which has so many followers, we have to keep it real and honest! Also, thanks a lot for getting “A part of your world” stuck in my head!

    • Chantae says:

      Thanks Suanlee 🙂 That really means a lot! It is SO hard to find a blogging voice – I can totally understand where you’re coming from. It’s hard to be a different voice when everyone else sounds the same. You definitely have a lot of talent with words and photos, so I’m sure you’ll find it soon 😀 And haha, Part of Your World is now stuck in my head!

  18. Michelle says:

    Ah I really love that you put this together. Will be reposting on social media. I especially liked, “I don’t know what cities in Europe are wheelchair accessible, how black people are treated in Asia, or what it’s like to globe-trot with kids, a disability, or lesbian partner. So, I’ve addressed what I can, and left other issues to the travelers who know best.”
    Well done

  19. I would love to nominate myself for resources list *not tooting my horn at all lol* I am a family and budget travel blogger. Canadian, so slightly different than American.
    I know what you mean though, its hard to find resources for the non-male, non-solo/couple traveler, especially if you have to hold down a job to pay the travelling bills. We are fortunate enough to be posted to Europe – only way this is possible and I have no dreams to the contrary
    christine leger recently posted…Favorite five July 29My Profile

  20. This is the most perfect list of travel resources I have ever seen. Thank you for taking time for putting this together.

  21. This is one very informative post. It’s done in a humorous tone, too that makes reading it enjoyable! I’ve found your topics to be quite wide-ranging. Thanks!

  22. Katherine says:

    Great post! Sometimes it’s easy to forget the privileged position that we as white, hetero bloggers write from. We have many gay friends and family members, but I had never seriously thought about the difficulties they may face when travelling until a gay male friend of ours said how jealous he was of our trip to Russia, and how he felt that he couldn’t go for fear of being attacked. Now I often think about what it would be like for our gay friends and family to read our blog and want to visit the same places we have been. We don’t attempt to pretend we understand the difficulties faced by LBGTQ+ travellers on our blog, but it is a good reality check. Great to see a post that provides different perspectives for all kinds of different people.
    Katherine recently posted…Photo Essay: Our Greatest Travel Fails of 2016My Profile

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