Freedom to Travel – Never Take it for Granted

Written By: The Planet D

We have never taken for granted how lucky we are to have the freedom to travel and how lucky we were to have our first opportunity to visit a faraway land in 2000.

Dave and I often talk about how strange life can be. Who decides who has access to opportunity and how were we so lucky to be born where we were born? As a couple of middle class Canadians, we have always had a comfortable and privileged standard of living.

Even if we weren’t considered rich in our own country, we could enjoy the luxuries of life.

There was always food, clean water, air conditioning and heat, and of course opportunities and freedom to travel. It was those opportunities to travel that helped shaped who we are today.

Freedom to Travel

freedom to travel quote

Mark Twain said “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

We agree with this quote whole-heartedly.

We’ve been lucky to have the freedom to travel to places like the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, we were exposed to cultures that we could never understand or comprehend had we stayed in our own little corner of the world in Otterville and Burlington, Ontario.

When we come home we have a new perspective on the beliefs and ideals from other walks of life.

Travel has helped us appreciate and understand other views on the world and it has helped open our minds. We have often said that travel is the best education.

We both studied foreign lands in school, but we never truly understood anything we learned until we visited those foreign lands. Through the past 15 years of travel, we have become more open minded, compassionate, tolerant, and patient.

Read more about the impact of Visa facilitation at the World Travel and Tourism Council

Appreciate and Understand Culture Through Travel Freedom

freedom travel group

As Canadians, we’ve always been taught to accept other cultures, but how can one truly understand how another person lives, unless they experience that way of life first hand?

We are the lucky ones. Canadians have the privilege and freedom to travel to 173 countries and territories without having to obtain a visa.

That is a lot of travel freedom that many other citizens around the world don’t have.

More and more people from developing countries are starting to have more freedom to travel and that is exciting.

People are beginning to have opportunities to see our way of living here in North America and they are starting to enjoy the beauty of the world. We have always believed that if more people travelled, there would be less conflict in the world.

freedom to travel children

We have seen first hand through our travels that most people want the same thing out of life.

No matter what religion, race, or culture, humans simply want to be happy, safe, and surrounded by friends and family. We are all far more similar than we realize.

A couple of years ago, we attended the Adventure Travel World Summit and saw just how much the world is changing as more people experience the freedom to travel.

According to Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of the UNWTO, “1 billion people are now crossing borders, and instead of fighting it, countries should look at this as an opportunity rather than a crisis.” This statement always stuck with me. That’s a lot of people traveling.

Freedom to Travel by Fixing Visa Restrictions

freedom to travel mosque

I understand countries are worried about security issues, but there has to be better ways to screen threats than to just charge a lot of money.  

A couple of months later we travelled to Turkey. Like many countries that we travel to, Canadians don’t need a Visa before entering, they simply need to obtain a Visa on arrival.

But we noticed that Canadians were charged more than US and EU Citizens. When I asked the officer why at the desk, he replied, “You should see what Canada charges us to enter your country.”

That really hit home. While we only had to pay $60 to enter, he said Turks must pay $600 to enter Canada. Upon further investigation, we learned that Canada actually charges $500 for a family to enter the country, $100 for an individual and an extra $85 for a biometrics fee.

When you consider the average income for a Canadian compared to that of a Turk, the fee is extremely high.

So why does Canada shut it’s doors to so many potential tourists and take away their freedom to travel to our country?

The WTTC says “Freedom to Travel means ensuring that people have the right to cross international borders safely and efficiently for tourism purposes. It means smarter visa processes, more visa waiver agreements and trusted traveller programmes.

We value our freedom to travel and explore the world and when we learn about what other countries must go through, we realize how lucky we are. Whenever we have to buy a visa in advance, we complain about the complexity and expense.

Visas and Travel Freedom

motorcycle freedom travel

When we took part in the Mongol Rally driving a car from England to Mongolia, we actually rerouted our course based on the cost of visas.

It’s a big world out there, why should we visit countries that charge us an arm and a leg to enter?

We understand that Visas have been, and are an important part of immigration policy. They help regulate tourist numbers, they are a  source of revenue for countries, and to a certain extent, they help with security. 

But, with the technology we have access to today, I know there must be a better way.  

Travel Freedom Makes the World Better

india travel

We have said it before the world is a better place with the freedom to travel. As the earth shrinks due to expanding technology, everyone now has access and freedom to do business across oceans.

New jobs are being created each day and prosperity is crossing borders into new lands. Even we have become mobile in our business.

I never thought I’d be working regularly with companies on 5 different continents. If we had these restrictions, we couldn’t do our job.

It’s an exciting time for travel, let’s open our minds to allow everyone the freedom to travel that we have enjoyed for so many years.

Have you run into Visa restrictions that have made you change your travel plans? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.

Read Next

For more information regarding Freedom to Travel, visit the World Travel and Tourism Council

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Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

Leave a Comment

20 thoughts on “Freedom to Travel – Never Take it for Granted”

  1. What an awesome article coming from you guys! This is truly inspirational. I do hope more people will be moved to travel more in the different side of the world.

    Reply
  2. What a beautifully written piece.. thank you! Since 2012 I now travel with 2 passports Russian/American, so where visas are too high for US I use Russian. But this ability I had to work for for almost a decade. Arriving solo at 19 in US without any help from family, made me realize, that I am stronger, than I thought and can survive anywhere, regardless of passport…

    Your site is inspiring and your photography is incredible!

    Let There Always Be A Road…

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  3. Great article, I started following you guys while you were doing the Mongol Rally and totally agree with “It’s a big world out there, why should we visit countries that charge us an arm and a leg to enter?” We have been fortunate to visit quite a few countries in the last 550 days of travel and we are looking forward to visiting many more. We have been in Europe for the last 8 months and have just scratched to surface of seeing it. The Schengen Zone has made it all that much more difficult, and we certainly don’t understand why they have the restrictions that they do. How can you possibly visit more than few countries in the zone when you have to leave it every 3 months?
    Another Mark Twain quote that we like is “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

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  4. Very Good Blog Post about Travel and Freedom. This is gona be good life…Thank you for sharing this amazing post…

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  5. Beautiful post. I love the quote by Mark Twain and the inspiring video. It’s true, travel really helps us open our hearts and our minds and become more sensitive and aware of the world around us.

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  6. Hey Dave and Deb,

    I amazed when I came to know the fact that as a Canadian you can travel through 173 countries and territories visa free.
    “Having the Freedom to Travel is a Privilege” Yes it is.. Most of the people change their plan just because of Visa issue. I love your post very much. Now I know different facts about Visa & travelling. Although I haven’t followed the links in the post which I will do the next.

    I am thankful for your one of the amazing post.

    Reply
  7. Living in the USA, I too am lucky to have the freedom to visit so many countries easily. The first time that I crossed a border from one country to another in Europe, I had a surprise. I always expected a border stop with a gated stop before crossing with military guards checking your passport or visa like I have always seen in movies. I was driving by car from France and going into Germany. I was looking for the border crossing to know when I entered Germany. I was surprised when I suddenly reached the Autobahn. There was no border check. I realized that I was already in Germany. What a surprise. How things have changed. I am used to crossing from the USA to Canada or Mexico where there are still border checks. Maybe someday that will change too.

    Reply
  8. Hi Dave and Deb,
    Thanks for this reminder to all of us traveling and crossing borders. It’s been a huge privilege for me being an American citizen to be able to go in and out of many countries visa free and not have to apply for visas ahead of time. Looking at where we are as long-term travelers there’s so much we can forget about while on the road. There are tons of hardships other people face when trying to visit a places as a tourist.

    My wife is from the Philippines and we’ve had some hiccups on our life journey because of it. We didn’t apply for an American tourist visa because we didn’t believe she would get a US visa so easily. We ended up doing so while living in China but only after 3 years of being married. Long story short she got a 10 year multi entry visa.

    Now we’re in a situation where we are trying to live/work in Austria. For some reason it’s a big pain in the butt. I got offered a job while we were in Ecuador, thought we could apply in Peru, the Austrian authorities told us we need to go to our countries of residence (USA and the Philippines). We got her tourist visa but she still needs to change her tourist visa to a dependent visa. Timeframe 2-6 months, oh and she can’t do it in Austria and needs to go back to the Philippines.

    The price of visas for some westerners seems absurd as you noted. The one that hits me is the Bolivian one for Americans I think it’s $160 bucks. China also requires a pretty hefty fee. But then again like you mentioned, if we look at our own immigration and tourism policies we might be a bit surprised.

    Anyways I love the way you opened up the article- knowing, understanding, and reminding us that for most of us we already have luxuries in life- clean water, a nice bed, opportunities to travel, etc. I’m glad you wrote this article, we need to reminder ourselves of this more 🙂 <3

    Thanks again Dave and Deb.

    Love from the Philippines,
    Mark

    Reply
    • Congratulations on the 10 Year multi entry visa. Sorry to hear about the struggles you are facing in Austria. That is a huge expense to have to go back to the Philippines.
      I agree, there are times when I am blown away by Visa prices. But it really hits home when I hear what others have to pay to come to our country.
      Thank you for taking the time to comment and good luck with your future travels! We can’t wait to come to the Philippines very soon.

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  9. Great article! As a Mexican traveler, I agree that visas are a big headache for planning future travels. I’m currently planning my South East Asia Journey in 2016 and I was saddened by the fact that Thailand doesn’t grant visa waivers/visa on arrivals for Mexicans. I understand that at some point it’s a reciprocity issue plus the fear of illegal migrant workers but I really don’t understand how ridiculous some requirements are for some specific nationalities (in comparison, we Mexicans have it relatively easy when compared to nationals of Sub-Saharan African countries and nationals from the Middle East for example).

    Maybe one day we’ll live in a world in peace and sustainability where visas are no longer required. Maybe 🙂

    Reply
    • I didn’t realize that Thailand didn’t grant Visas on entry for Mexicans. Hopefully that changes soon. You are so right when you mention Sub-Saharan African nations. I have talked with people about that and they have struggles indeed. I know that friends in Nepal have a tough time as well. Even though they own their own businesses they still struggle to get a Visa. I’ll keep holding onto that dream that the world will live in peace and sustainability one day too. Thanks for the comment!

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  10. Great post, and so true!

    I could not imagine my life without international travel, and I now start going crazy if I spend more than 3-4 months at home, but the truth is that, until 2007 when I was 24 years old, I had only ever been to three countries (Mexico, Canada and the USA). The more I started traveling, the more I wanted to see places and learn about other cultures and meet other people! I will have now visited 32 countries by the end of the year, so it’s fair to say the last eight years have been a big step!

    On that note, I am SO LUCKY to have a Canadian passport, as my mom is Canadian and we moved here from Mexico in 1997. The Mexican passport requires a visa to pretty much every single country, so without it it would have cost me much more to go to the places I’ve travelled to, and I would have never been able to move to Australia for one year, and to England for two years.

    Sometimes we forget how privileged we are to have certain nationalities!

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing your story Claus and congratulations on 32 countries in 8 years. That is amazing! We started traveling late ourselves. Dave and I didn’t take our first International trip together until we were 27 and 28 years old. It’s that first trip that certainly started our wanderlust. It was to Europe and we are lucky we didn’t have to get Visas. I wouldn’t even have known to look into that back then and could have been in a pickle. But that is the luck of being Canadian. We can travel to so many countries without a Visa and most likely people’s first travels (like ours) would be to a place that doesn’t require one. I look forward to more countries receiving the benefits that we have as Canadians. The world is becoming a smaller place every day and travel should be easier for everyone.

      Reply
  11. Great Blog Post about Travel and Freedom.

    I was exactly thinking. The possibilities, life in your own hands.. This is gotta be the good life.

    Thank you for sharing this amazing post…

    Reply
  12. Hey D&D, great post – a heartwarming and important message. It’s so refreshing to find others grateful for our middle-class Canadian privilege, and recognising the unjustness some countries’ tourist policies.

    Visas are a relic that need a huge overhaul. They’re from a time when few travelled – except spies, diplomats and merchants. The rise of tourism has seen visas evolve into a revenue-raiser – which is fine if that’s what a country choose – but the painful bureaucracy (just to get a rubber-stamp, in the end) needs to go! My latest experience is from the Stans, where my trip was shaped by visa issues (I had to begin in Kyrgyzstan as it’s the only visa-free entry for Canadians). Fortunately for me, once there the woman at the Uzbek embassy (dubbed ‘the beast of Bishkek’ for her unwavering hostility) granted my onward visa. Others I met weren’t so fortunate, and had their trips torpedoed by the region’s bureaucracy.

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    • Thanks Michael. We have often talked of how lucky we are. Even when we were just barely scraping by paying our bills, we could still manage to take a vacation and go out to dinner. Our definition of struggle in Canada is far different from other countries. Travel has reiterated that thought. The more we have seen around the world. Thanks for sharing your story. The Stans are definitely a different travel experience. We’ve only been to Kazakhstan. The plan was for Kyrgystan as well, but we ran out of time. We had to get to Mongolia and our re-entry Visa for Russia (the only way we could get through to Mongolia) was about to expire and we couldn’t extend the time. Once again, a Visa issue kept us from spending important tourism dollars in a country. If we didn’t have to get back into Russia because of our Visa, we most definitely would have gone on to Kyrgystan. I’m glad you made it through! It is a beautiful part of the world.

      Reply
  13. When we cycled through Europe, we were amazed by the border crossings, since there really are no border crossing anymore. Empty buildings, which used to house border guards, are the only things marking the shift from one country into the next. Though we missed the satisfying thud of our passports being stamped, we sure didn’t miss the hassle and expense of dealing with border crossings. Europe opened its borders and it’s still standing – I can’t wait until more countries do the same.

    J

    Reply
    • It’s amazing to see the difference in Europe. It used to be such a hassle crossing borders and carrying different currencies. We are lucky that we were able to witness the difference and change. A lot of younger travellers wouldn’t even know of the days (just a short while ago) when you had to go through so many border crossings. Europe is definitely leading the way and you are right, I hope more people follow suit.

      Reply