I need to lead with the truth. There was a point in my life when I adopted a toxic school of thought: If you ain't about that jet life, you just don't get life.
But then me and my lucrative job parted ways and I got a helluva lot more discerning about the allocation of my dollars. I've found that I'm a lot more appreciative of the times I do get to travel because I have to work a lot harder for it. I have something I didn't have before--perspective.
As the focus shines more on urban travelers, the mainstream is exposed to the legions of passport-wielding black folk who change time zones like toddlers change clothes. They follow The Flight Deal, their social media photos look like a constant stream of postcards, they refer to cities by airport code (I'm still guilty of that one in text and email), and more often than not, they are part of a travel group. On the surface, travel groups are an invaluable way to connect with like-minded wanderers to share information, experiences, and photos. Inevitably though, humblebrags and one-upmanship begin to seep into the conversations. It's like planes are pressurized by an air of superiority because what began a cool place for jetsetters to convene turns into a place to ridicule people who don't make catching that $450 flight to Paris a top priority.
Most travel groups are comprised of people from all walks of life--there's levels to this shit. So, it's particularly harmful to the community when the folks who have ridden camels in the deserts of Dubai throw shade on the folks who like cruises. There is one group in particular that is especially venomous toward people don't "hit three or more countries per year," and it makes me wonder why they're mad. Belittling someone for spending $15 a day on food/dining out instead of putting it in a travel stash is not just asinine, it assumes everyone's situation is the same. It's right up there with fat shaming (I lost the baby weight, what's your excuse?) and honestly it's unnecessary. How are someone else's priorities any bother to you? Are they going to stop you from snorkeling in New Zealand? I think not. The same goes for the ones who constantly brag about flying first class. Dude, I get it, you're comfortable as hell and enjoying your first glass of champagne before the minions in coach even find their seat. But guess what? They're getting to London the same time you are.
After I got a passport, I stopped shopping at Barneys and chose Punta Cana over Pierre Hardy. I had a new goal. Then, when I didn't make as much money as I used to, I became even more judicious about where I spent money. Could I spare $200 for a flight to Belize this winter? Sure. But four nights at a hotel was going to run me about $500 (because comforts) and my excursions another $250. A can't-miss flight deal turned into a trip rapidly approaching $1,000 and that still didn't account for food and incidentals while I was there. I could skip a few happy hours and make that flight happen, but if I wanted to have any fun, food, and a comfy place to rest that was going to be more of an undertaking. For some people, coming up with $1,500 is a yearlong affair. Would the passport mafia* applaud them for going the extra mile to make it happen? Or would they scoff because it only amounted to one stamp?
I have plenty of friends who live that #jetlife who aren't snobs about the privilege they enjoy. Maybe they remember what it's like to have little or no PTO and report to an office every day. Or, they remember how child care costs used to debo their paycheck. Or, maybe they just aren't elitist assholes. Whatever it is that has kept them humble even as they hop-scotch the cobblestones in Rome is a good thing and it needs to be spread around.
So, to the members of the passport mafia, before you look down your nose at the ones who don't have Global Entry, remember that your story does not equal their story and it doesn't give you space to shade others for not living your lifestyle.
*I don't know if there's actually a group called passport mafia. If so, I'm not referring specifically to them.
Quia Querisma is a freelance writer based in Dallas, Texas who in fact rode camels in the Dubai desert and sailed in Croatia. She quit concerning herself with other people's priorities a long time ago.