Who gets to travel?

At the hostel La Casona in Potosí, Bolivia, there was this world map in the reception office, indicating where many of the visitors had come from. (Click to enlarge.)

world map hostal La Casona potosi.JPG

It’s obvious that many Bolivians would travel within their own country, just as visitors from neighboring South American states will drop by or pass through. The empty spaces on the map of South America are largely areas where not many people live, like the Amazon rainforest.

This map in one hostel in one city in Bolivia is not representative at all, but for the rest of the world, this map mainly shows where people have (1) money, (2) a passport which is useful for traveling, and (3) nothing else to worry about.

Many visitors from the United States and Canada, but millions more from Europe. In Asia the main source countries are Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. From Africa, almost only South Africa. From the Middle East, mainly Israel (maybe the one place where reason no. 3 is to escape from the things at home that one would need to worry about).

China and India, by far the two most populous countries in the world, are completely underrepresented. So is Russia. And almost all of Africa. Although, to be fair, many refugees from Africa and the Middle East get to “travel” quite a bit, and under much more adventurous circumstances than any “backpacker” can claim.

So what do you make of this?


About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a writer, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Bolivia, Philosophy, Travel and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Who gets to travel?

  1. moonskittles says:

    Hmm.. food for thought definitely… I am flying to Vienna myself in three days. :) But not backpacking :)

  2. andres says:

    well, people from wealthier countries can afford to travel more than people from poor countries. Nothing surprising there.

  3. Alex Arockiasamy says:

    People from poorer countries like mine (India) have gone through a lot of struggle. And their mindset has only materialistic goals that they’d want to pursue. Families have been made to believe that wealth through money is the only way forward to success.

    The trend is changing, but it will at least take a couple of more decades to see a growing presence from India and more such countries. We obviously need more people to travel to promote peace, diversity and better understanding between nations. I hope the governments also take necessary initiatives across the world.

    • I think that’s a very good point! You may be right that people who move into the middle class first spend money on a house, a car, computers and microwaves instead of a train ticket or another holiday.

      And of course it would help if it wasn’t so hard to get visa to many countries for citizens of countries like India.

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