What Travel Helps Me Recognize

It's a trip I've taken every year since I was young. One of my favorite spots in the world, a hop, skip, and a plane ride away from my sunny Sacramento home, Cabo San Lucas has always been special to me.

Mexico isn't special to me because of its snorkeling expeditions or bar hopping routes, though those are always on my travel checklist. No, Mexico is special to me because it inspires me to keep traveling and to keep pursuing everything that I don't know. I learn something new every time I visit: a new phrase, a new song, a new empathetic moment that makes me realize my privilege. 

I haven't traveled far in my 20-odd years, but I have experienced the excitement of boarding a plane to embark on an adventure. Whether it be for work or for pleasure, I know the feeling of grasping a boarding pass in one hand and a Dasani in the other before a long flight to somewhere new, and that's a privilege that I'll never take for granted.

In my preteen years I would travel to Mexico with my dad and sisters in hopes of collecting shells from sun-drenched Medano Beach or stealing a sip of a margarita I wasn't technically allowed to have. However, now that I've grown up a bit and have explored different corners of one of my favorite travel destinations, I'm excited to collect the tiny handshakes of children selling knick-knacks along the shoreline and stealing a second out of the day to peer at the people working harder than hard to provide for their families.

And in the spirit of disclosure, I'm not the type of person to travel abroad to take pictures with kids begging for water only to post it on my Twitter, #volunteer. I have never been on a trip to physically help indigenous people to make sure my social media profiles are full of proof that I spent a night on a cot. The people who take time out of their own personal affairs to practice humility and kindness without the need for hashtags or a tagged location, who work silently day after day to support a nation, a community, a person who is struggling more than they-- those individuals are the people that deserve the recognition, the likes and the follows and the social love. So this blog isn't to pet my ego, show off my support, or jump on a hashtag that proves I believe in social justice. This post is to keep my privilege in check, and to help you recognize yours.

Our domestic issues are huge and they suffocate my news and social streams every day. But I can't imagine not being able to look down at my phone to see the news, to be wedged out by society because I can't afford a phone, a TV, a home, or a meal. My own personal, emotional, professional, and physical issues drown my thoughts everyday, however I'm alive. I have a roof over my head, and I am well. I am not fighting every day to eat, to safely practice religion, to love who I want to love, and that is privilege.

I go to Mexico to relax, enjoy the sunny disposition of the Mexican people offering handmade goods and tasty food. I go abroad to spend time with my family, picking on my sisters and taking pictures with my dad. I get on a plane once a year to celebrate my health, to plan for my year, to soak in my accomplishments, and to reevaluate my goals. I travel every year to recognize my privilege, and I truly believe that is where many of my own and everyone else's problems lie: in their unrecognized privilege. We take for granted our right to pray to who we want to or to not pray at all. We take for granted our privilege to wear our politics on our sleeves and sprinkle our beliefs across our social media profiles.

So travel to relax. Travel to learn new languages, try new recipes, sing new songs. Travel to learn more about yourself. Travel to recognize and understand your privilege in this world and be thankful that you can add #WhereToNext to your new Instagram snap instead of thinking 'Where to next?' when your home is destroyed or your civility is endangered.