Ok … so maybe not everyone can travel. Bubble bursting time! It ain’t easy if you dont have green!!

I’m copying and pasting from another blog: Someday I’ll be there. Our fearless blogger definitely makes sense here and sometimes I do forget how entitled I’ve become in my ability to travel as I please; regardless of the circumstances that led to me travelling.

I have read lots of posts about how everyone can travel, how each one of us can save up and travel, and that it’s not impossible to live the travel dream.

Actually I sometimes feel there’s a rivalry going on between the travel bloggers about who’s traveling on a tighter budget than the other one.

On each travel blog there’s an 80% chance you’ll find at least one post – if not more – talking about how much that blogger spends per day, per month, and how much they started traveling with in the first place, which of course wasn’t much, but they somehow were able to keep going.

Let’s get back to this last sentence: “…Which of course wasn’t much…” I should have added … “according to American standards”.

How many of you make less than US$ 7 per hour?

That’s right, none.

And that is why, money wise, I don’t get how some of you still complain about money and budgeting! You can afford it all, yes you do.

The following text should really hit me harder than it does, since I know how tough it is to be travelling and backpacking. We cry about trying to budget and travel on a couple buck a day, but I like the following perspective on things. In Trinidad, 7USD is nothing … in fact, you can’t even buy a 3 piece and fries at KFC. Seriously!!!

I guess even in Trinidad, if you made $43 an hour ($7USD), that would be $344TT a day, which is about $6800TT a month. That would be enough to live in a small apartment, go liming and travelling down the islands. It’s funny how far that money could go in Trinidad. Anyway back to our Egyptian hero …

Well, at least I know if I worked for US$ 7 per hour, I know I’d be making a fortune in no time – and before you disagree, one friend of mine worked for 3 months in the States at US$ 7 per hour, he came home with US$ 7,000, approximately EGP 42,000, an amount that I would do working 2 years straight and spending literally nothing.

He’s not the only example, I know many people who work during summer vacations in the States and UK, and the least they do is cover their flying costs, approximately US$ 1,000.

Then how much do I make?

I’m a pharmacist, a graduate of pharmacy school, and I’m working for my father which gives me the privilege of getting paid even more than if I worked in any other pharmacy; I make less than US$ 2 per hour. I work for 12 hours per day, to make US$ 500 per month.

PS I’m middle class Egyptian, and I’m considered one of the very lucky Egyptians as well.

Now consider someone who isn’t working in the fancy industry of pharmacy, someone let’s say, working in a supermarket, or in a restaurant, I can tell you they make a maximum of half what I make per month, working the same hours as me or slightly more.

Most of the posts I’ve read about how anyone can travel claim that on long term traveling you tend to spend less than you spend at home. The lowest number I’ve read so far was US$ 23/day.

Only US$ 23/day? In Egypt, 60% of the population lives on less than $2 per day! $23/day per person that adds up to $25,000 per year, which is a fortune for a high class Egyptian family!

My question here is, when the travel blogosphere mentions that anyone can travel, do they mean only North Americans and Western Europeans? Well I’m sorry but that is not exactly ‘anyone’, that is hardly 15%* of the world’s population.

In Trinidad, 25K USD would be a small fortune also, since most people I know back home in village or around make substantially less than that, and they all make do with things.

Our intrepid hero even goes on to chat about the true difficulty of travelling as a Trini … I’ve never personally lined up outside the American embassy in Port of Spain, but I do know people who have had to wait the entire day in the hot sun for the hope of the visa. Maybe they’ve gotten better over the years, but I wouldn’t really believe that. To that fact, we even have to deal with local idiot ministers who think they’re known or something. The USA can choose to let anyone or deny anyone entry into the country – it’s their country. If the process is unfair, that is their issue not anyone else’s  … not matter how perceptually unfair it is to outsiders.

So our hero continues …

To the rest of the world, however, you need a visa to travel to almost anywhere on planet earth. And no, you don’t just send your passport to the embassy, they stamp the visa and send it back over to you. It’s far more complicated than this. You actually have to apply for an interview first, visit the embassy in person, fill in a 3+ page application, and make the interview; which is basically composed of a couple of main questions:

  • Where do you work?
  • How much money is in your bank account?
  • Where will you stay in your destination?
  • How long do you plan on staying?

All these questions have only one main point behind them, “How do I know you will actually come back to Egypt?!”

I’ve really never EVER had to deal with crappy immigration officials … EXCEPT when I travel to the US. That being said, I travel to the US on a weekly basis for work from Toronto, so I can’t really fault them … I can fault the attitude and arrogance of the American border patrol though … they truly do suck!!!

That being said, it does seem to apply to travelling within Europe also …

But can I backpack around Europe?

Again, given the assumption that an Egyptian has enough money to travel around Europe for two or three months, can they actually do it?

A short answer is No.

One of the main papers you have to have with you for your visa interview is a booked flight to and from your destination, and the other very important document is hotel reservations for your whole stay!

That summer we applied for a Spanish visa, we planned 4 days stay in Madrid and 2 in Palma de Mallorca, and we had hotel reservations for both places, flights to and from Madrid and the internal flight as well. We were granted a visa for the exact 6 days included in our reservations, no room for error!

So it is actually doable, I can travel around Europe, but I’ll have to pre-plan exactly on which dates I’ll be in which cities, and have reservations for those cities, and have pre-booked transportation as well.

If one replaces the Egyptian with Trinidadian … this would be the same type of situation that Trinis face when travelling abroard … so it’s not even about the money, but the fact that Western countries don’t even want you coming into their country unless you can prove that you are spawned from Satan’s rich butt crack.

So in the end, for those that have the desire to see the world and travel to your heart’s content, but are denied because of adminstrative nonsense from external governments … I feel for you.

As for saving money … I have to concede that unless you’re living in the Western world with a Western income or Third world country with a drug lord as your daddy …. then you’re going to have a tough time making your travel dreams come true.

About Rishiray

Rishi Sankar is a Cloud HRMS Project Manager/ Solution Architect. Over the past 15+ years, he has managed to combine his overwhelming wanderlust with a desire to stay employed, resulting in continuing stints with 3 major consulting firms (IBM, Deloitte, Accenture). He documents his adventures around the world on "Ah Trini Travelogue" with pictures and stories from the road/tuk-tuk/camel/rickshaw. You can follow him on Twitter at @rishiray and on Facebook at "Ah Trini Travelogue . He doesn't like Chicken Curry but loves Curry Chicken and is always trying to find the perfect Trinidadian roti on the road. He also doesn't like cheese and kittens ... and definitely not together. E-mail from his blog is appreciated like a 35 yr old Balvenie at rishi@rishiray.com

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