Travelling in The Age of Extreme Nationalism

Travel is a privilege and not all people are able to experience it. Barriers exist that keep us from going to and leaving places. It is easy to look at a situation and say, “well that doesn’t affect me” and simply move on. We’ve all likely experienced some form of discomfort or discrimination for something we likely had no control over. The fact is, I just don’t feel great about travelling to America right now. I don’t feel like I’m the only one either. I wasn’t exactly sure if making this post was a good idea as I don’t really want to politicise this blog, but I also wanted to say something.

I am not American. I’m Canadian. Recently some Canadian citizens (among other nationals) have been told that they can’t enter the United States unless they have a visa. This is contradictory to current practice of both Canada and America as a person is only required to have a valid passport to travel between the two countries. I am not a person of colour and my chances of being hindered at the border are pretty slim.

Avoiding a place is easy, you simply just don’t go there! – but it’s not always that simple. A lot of international travel in Canada requires a person to have a layover in many major American cities. This means when I get to the airport in Canada I will still need to go through American customs. I can avoid this by looking at destinations that have a direct route, but this also means the cost of travelling for me will likely increase, depending on where I’m going. This might also limit me in terms of where I can and can’t go.

Travel is political, regardless if someone doesn’t see themselves as being political. The places we go to and visit have a direct impact on local and regional economies. Individually we’re supporting a countries growth on a macro-economic level. Collectively, our visits account to large portions of a countries economy. I don’t want to punish anyone, especially people who likely have nothing to do with decisions regarding allowing travel within ones country. I don’t think politics should stop us from seeing places that don’t align with our core values as travel helps to break down stigma and stereotypes. Education has always been a fundamental reason why I travel. My decision to not travel within or through the US for the immediate future has a lot less to do with politics and emotion and more to do with me wanting to avoid an unpleasant experience for myself and my family. I hope that one day soon this feeling of avoidance goes away.


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