Is Travel Still A Luxury?

Picture this; it’s a grey, rainy November day. You’ve had a bad day at work, you got stuck in traffic on the way home and you’re so stressed and tired that you just want to crawl into a ball and not doing anything.

So you get home and you fire up Lastminute.com or TUI or any other holiday booking site that can give you a bit of escapism from your everyday life because you just NEED a holiday. It’s exactly what you need to enhance this mood, this funk you seem to be stuck in.

A few hours later, you’re in an internet black hole of holidays. You have several tabs open enticing you and telling you there’s only 1 room left so book now! Deep down, you know this isn’t true but it’s marketing ploys like this that make us click book and squeal with excitement that we’ve secured our next trip.

Something to look forward to and dare I say it something to keep you going. It’s okay, there’s only 83 days left until my holiday. I can get through the next 83 days because I know when I wake up on day 84, I will be travelling to that airport and flying away from all my worries.

This is what reality has become like for so many of us. A holiday (or several of them) are seen as staples of our everyday life. Conversations between colleagues and friends will often turn to ‘so when’s your next holiday?’ or ‘Where are you going next?’

I love a holiday as much as the next person but we need to stop seeing holidays as a normal part of life. Holidays are a luxury. If you’re someone who goes on holiday a lot, you’re incredibly lucky. Many people won’t get to go on holiday every year.

Growing up, travelling abroad wasn’t really an option for our family and I was more than okay with that. We had some great trips in the UK and it didn’t matter where we were because we were making our own fun sharing the experience with the people we were with.

Lots has changed in the last 24 years of my existence. Travelling abroad is seen as a necessity for so many young people. Interrail was unheard of when I was a teenager (which makes me sound and feel really old – even Word underlined it in red!)

I remember going on a plane for the first time when I was 19 and landing in Crete. It was the most overwhelming, exciting experience and from then on I wanted to go everywhere! The travel bug as they call it had hit but it wasn’t until a few years later that I really grasped how lucky I was to be able to go on trips like this.

It may sound like a sour, bitter thing to say I suppose; that we should change our perception of something we love. I’m certainly guilty of bragging about what a lovely time I’ve had on holiday to anyone who asks and that’s okay (I mean, they did ask!)

But there’s something to be remembered, when you’re next scrolling through a holiday website and you cringe at the final price – can you really afford it? Although you feel like you need this holiday, do you really need a second or third break away this year?

It’s a difficult topic and one that people will have conflicting opinions on. Technology and tourism has taken a massive jump in the last 10 years meaning our freedom to travel has been made as easy as it’s ever been. Companies allow employees to take sabbaticals, young people are increasingly choosing to take a gap year before going to University and many people choose to retire in a foreign country.

Some of the facts are staggering. According to The Office For National Statistics, there were 71.7 million visits overseas by UK residents in 2018, a decrease of 1% when compared with 2017 when it was 72.8 million and UK residents spent £45.4 billion on visits abroad last year.

That is A LOT of money spent on travelling. I find it a bit frustrating that no one is transparent about the true cost of travelling for the typical Brit. It’s a given that you might go to Spain or Greece for a ‘cheap’ holiday but prices have increased massively due to sheer demand.

For example, a trip to Spain will set you back around £500 per person based on a trip for two in June for 7 days in a 3 to 4 star hotel using a popular booking website. That was also looking a year in advance. This isn’t taking into account off peak travel in the quieter months which could bring the price down.

I know I prefer to travel in March or October to get a better deal especially on city breaks where the weather doesn’t need to be scorching for you to still be able to enjoy it and sight see.

However, lots of Brits are now opting for the ‘staycation’ as a cheaper alternative and exploring what the UK has to offer. Prices in the UK tend not be much lower though making you wonder how can you enjoy a cheap holiday anywhere?

Of course, staying in hostels or booking through sites such as Airbnb can bring accommodation costs down significantly but there’s still flights, transfers, food and day trips to consider.

Sometimes I’d like to question why people choose certain destinations. Is it just to tick it off a list and say you’ve been there or is it to get the perfect Instagram shot? Yes, there is the argument that experiencing different cultures gives you great life experience but if you’re just going because everyone else has been there and you feel like you should, then maybe it’s not really worth it.

‘Affordable luxury’ seems to be a buzz word associated with many packages I came across when researching for this post. Affordable is a contentious word when it comes to travel though. It may be affordable for one person but not for another.

Do you really need somewhere deemed luxury if you’re going to be spending 70% of your holiday exploring and not spent at the hotel? I understand spending a little more if the holiday is all inclusive but you can often find a cheap, basic apartment which is perfect for city breaks when all you need is a bed and a bathroom.

The notion of luxury is one that sets our tongues wagging. If you book a holiday that mentions it’s a luxury resort, there’s a certain expectation about the quality of the place. When we think of luxury, we might think of The Bahamas or Bora Bora but that’s not the case anymore.

I read a great article by Urban Departures on travel being a luxury and one sentence stuck with me. ‘Every opportunity to leave home should be considered as luxury travel.’ 

Our fascination with travel is something I want to talk about in more depth and I think it’s important end the stigma around travel being something everyone can do. I also want to make it clear that I am by no means against travelling extensively if you can but the extent to which travel is fetishized by social media gives out the impression that everyone can go abroad multiple times a year and this just isn’t the case for many people.

What are your views on travelling abroad being accessible for everyone? Should it still be deemed a luxury or have we lost the sense of that word? How should it be portrayed on social media?

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