No luxury: five people who have no choice in travel

It’s easy to see the world only from your own point of view. After all, what choice do you have? Even the best efforts at empathy and telepathy will still leave you unable to truly put yourself in another person’s shoes. In the travel world in particular, it can be difficult to understand why the person with whom you’re jockeying for an armrest is on the plane at all. Try as you might, you’ll never really be able to grasp the whole story.

So, when I see sweeping pronouncements about why people travel, it makes me stop for a second. I ran into a tweet recently that proclaimed, “Traveling IS a luxury!” In some cases, this is doubtless true. While you may need to get out on vacation for a while, do you really need to go somewhere that requires a flight? Or, if you could suck it up and drive, even if it’s bit longer and something of a pain, you certainly aren’t forced to buy a ticket instead. Limit your perspective to these scenarios, and the statement makes sense.

But, what about everyone else?

There are many reasons why people travel, and there isn’t really a choice for some of them. It’s not a luxury; it’s a necessity. Let’s take a look at five people who fly of necessity – not to satisfy an unnecessary urge.1. Business travel
Okay, this is pretty obvious. When your boss tells you to get on a plane, that’s what you do. There are legions of corporate folks out there who fly weekly (or more) for sales meetings, client service and other business-related reasons. Their jobs are on the road, and they fly to work the way some people drive. The formula is pretty simple: no travel = no paycheck.

2. Family emergencies
This may be infrequent, and it doesn’t matter until you’re the one going to visit a relative in need. With some families spread out over several time zones, responding to an urgent matter may require a flight. I’m not sure I’d call this sort of flying a luxury … let’s be realistic.

3. Children visiting parents
Visitation is a serious matter, and it’s often not left to chance. There are rules put in place for when separated or divorced parents can see their kids. Complying with a court’s decision is not a luxury … nor is the time that a parent and child spend together.

4. People in uniform
Well, they may not always be in uniform – but if you see great posture, little body fat and a short haircut, do the math. The passenger may be en route to a new duty station or training environment (not to mention parts unknown or undesirable). Flying doubtless is not a luxury for this passenger. Rather, it’s a means to ensuring your ability to move freely. Let’s not forget about the military!

5. Airline employees
Of course, these people aren’t flying recreationally. Realistically, they’re only flying because you are. So, whether you’re in the air for business or pleasure, keep in mind that they are with you strictly for the former.

[photo by The U.S. Army via Flickr]