A couple of years ago I read an article that at first confused, then intrigued me. A lot. It was about an initiative by the European Union to classify travel as a basic human right. I’m not talking about the freedom to move as one pleases, that’s obvious. No, this was questioning whether or not going on vacation (or holiday for my Euro buds) is an honest to goodness right of the inalienable kind.
As an American my first reaction was to laugh uncontrollably, followed immediately by a series of patronizing thoughts. But the more I thought about it the more I kind of thought that it makes sense. Sort of.
The premise for the EU discussion was that the act of travel is so important to one’s mental and physical well-being that we as civilized society must do everything we can to help others enjoy this act of exploration, especially those who don’t have the money to take a vacation.
This is all true of course. Travel is one of the best things anyone can do for themselves and the ones they love. Even if it’s a simple overnight stay two towns over, travel is by its very nature an enlightening experience. You always will learn something and that in tandem with the physical act of leaving one’s abode and doing something can only be considered positive. I think we’re in agreement here.
The question is do we help those in our society achieve this goal if they are unable to do so on their own accord? In other words, do we add as a social entitlement the act of going on vacation?
This already happens to a certain degree. Kids bravely fighting cancer have available to them charities to make their wishes come true. The great majority of Make A Wish requests involve travel. There are other charities out there that work with disadvantaged kids to extend to them the benefits of travel. Whether it’s by taking them out to the country for the day or across the world, these groups have realized real differences made in the lives of others through the power of travel.
Travel gives us a sense of accomplishment, we are emboldened and empowered and these qualities can never be undone. It is a very good thing for everyone, but arguably a great thing for the most disadvantaged. But should it be institutionalized into a government-backed movement?
Personally, I say no. My suspicious nature leads me to believe that if the government were to control these programs they would be in some way abused; but that’s my skeptical American-self talking. Instead I believe that we should embolden groups already doing this transformational work. Give them more resources to help larger numbers of people, aid them in every way imaginable. But let them control the process. As we’ve seen lately, governments are unpredictable and at best their assistance is often too weak to be effectual.
What do you think? Should travel be classified as a human right?