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Travel keeps getting more expensive but still is just as valuable | The Perfectly Imperfect Human Condition

I tend to believe that our bedroom theme from when we were little kids is a defining feature of who we are. Growing up, I was one of those little girls who wanted a Paris-themed bedroom. Every time I saw a picture of the Eiffel Tower at HomeGoods or another Paris-themed room while at a playdate, I yearned for mine to look the same. 

Lila Baltaxe | Senior Graphic Artist

At 7 years old, I promised myself that when I was 18, I’d go to Paris and live out my dreams of traveling. Little did I know that by the time I was 18, I would barely be able to afford gas for my car, never mind a trip abroad. Maybe at one point  — in a less gruesome economy — I could have traveled abroad but not at any time in my living memory. 

In 2023, the travel boom caused by people living out their post-pandemic plans has skyrocketed. According to CBS, the number of U.S. passengers traveling abroad was up 75% in January 2023 compared to January 2022. Furthermore, there has been a 380% increase in U.S. citizens traveling to Asia specifically between January 2022 and January 2023.  

This of course has caused travel costs to be out of this world, especially for airfare abroad. According to CNBC, a round-trip airline ticket to Europe in 2023 is around $1,000 — which is a 20% price increase from tickets to and from the same locations in 2019. 

The same trend can also be found with round trips to Asia, as tickets are now about 60% more expensive than they were in 2019.  

According to AFAR, inflation, oil prices and the lack of both planes and pilots account for why airfare is so pricy — and it crushes many people’s dreams of going abroad. 

According to Reuters, mid-sized to economy hotel rooms in the U.S. and Europe have become 15% to 20% more expensive than they were before the pandemic, and according to the New York Times by mid-September gas prices in the U.S had risen by 20% in 2023 alone. 

In an economy where it is nearly impossible to afford a place to live, is travel even a possibility? And is it even worth the money?

I say yes: it’s worth it because travel can be an educational experience.

I have never traveled abroad, but I know that even domestically, travel has the capacity to change us. Not every experience has to be completely life-altering, which I feel is a common misconception about vacations. But even something as simple as visiting another state and learning its culture can open our minds to a multitude of philosophies on life. 

In this vein, travel can also help us understand our own country. Some states offer historical excursions that allow us to explore interesting events and, simultaneously, extremely horrific truths. 

By learning about where we’ve been as a nation, we have more direction as to how to move forward — and acknowledging these hard truths in prevalent locations is just one way to do so. 

Furthermore, visiting places domestically and abroad allows us to see that other people exist. Now, this might sound like a silly statement, but it genuinely applies to certain people. 

Many individuals tend to live in a bubble where they are surrounded by only their kind of beliefs and people. I find that when they encounter someone different from them physically and in terms of thought process, they lack empathy and understanding.

Travel can expose us to almost everyone and allows us to hear stories of people from all walks of life — opening and diversifying our minds.

As cliche as it might sound, traveling can also be a journey of self-discovery. Through spending time in new places, you are likely encouraged to try new things. In this sense, you might discover your new favorite dish or a new passion that’s prevalent in another culture — things you wouldn’t have stumbled across otherwise. 

Personally, I long to visit somewhere that will unlock a love for something that I would have never expected. I yearn to escape the mundane life to try something that would give me a rush of adrenaline: zip-lining in Costa Rica or paragliding in Brazil —  something that would 100% require me to leave my comfort zone. 

Indeed, travel is far too expensive for its own good. However, this does not take away from the fact that it can deepen our connections with ourselves, each other and the natural world. Perhaps if you are like me and do not currently have the means to travel, then it can still be a goal to work our way there. 

That being said, being able to afford our own necessities like a house, groceries and clothes is one thing. But being able to afford to travel — which is not a necessity — is another. Relatively speaking, very few people around the world have the means to go on vacation at all, let alone to travel extensively. It is important to acknowledge that the ability to travel is a privilege.

Travel is not a race. Humans at any age can still have an experience that profoundly changes them. If you are in the position to do so, don’t let the prospect of finances stop your plans completely, because where there’s a will, there’s a way. No matter how long it may take, the world awaits.

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