Are You Really a Jet Setter?
So you want to be jet setter?
What if a rich international life, instead of just exotic escapes, was the goal?
Today there are more people traveling internationally more than at any time before ever. International travel had previously been an elite privilege– fortunately, today it is being mainstreamed for and by Black people, other people of color, women, young people and many others historically under-represented. This is fantastic because few things do more for the spirit than connecting with our global human family.
The word jet-setter refers to a group of wealthy individuals who take weekly or monthly global jaunts on their private jets. The word itself implies that a true jet setter, like Jay Z or Bill Gates, doesn’t buy flights because he owns a jet! This is interesting because a flight is an expense but a jet is an asset. Owning a jet is still an elite privilege. Nevertheless, there’s an increasing wave of people at least attempting to live the jet-setting lifestyle, in terms of number of trips and types of locales.
If jet-setting has become a symbol for living the good life, is this the life we should aspire to?
Or does it come with the same consumerist caveats as Air Jordans, Louis Vuittons, champagne wishes and caviar dreams?
Global travel experiences are invaluable but so are home, education, family and community life, which also require intentionality and investment. In some cases, there’s a tension that comes from trying to reconcile all these goals, into a rich life. We already know people of color struggle with lower credit scores/ creditworthiness than white counterparts, which is why its important for us to be wise regarding cultural norms of spending and showing.
The millenial globetrotting movement is an excellent opportunity for so many entrepreneurs to profit and people to see the world. But the average net worth for Black and Latino household is $7-8,000 USD versus over $100,OOO for white households,. So for many of us its either not financially responsible or possible to spend on $3,000 USD international vacations that earn no financial returns but warm memories and passport stamps. But if travel were a vehicle to build towards acquiring own our jets?
What if travel and globalism offered us greater economic possibilities, instead of just a cash outflow?
We need greater economic opportunities for our generation, which has the highest educational attainment but far fewer economic gains. We especially need it for women and people of color, who tend to earn less even with a bachelors or graduate degree. Across racial and gender lines, many members if our generation have lost jobs or competitiveness to globalization and automation.. On the other hand, some of us are using globalism to build networks, advance professionally and grow businesses while traveling.
I was one of these people. I paid for my first trip to Salvador da Bahia, Brazil just out of college, where I worked on a film and learned Portuguese over several months. Subsequently, my Portuguese fluency and knowledge of the local market, helped me land fellowships and contracts in Rio de Janeiro, Fortaleza and Belo Horizonte. The first trip cost a few thousand dollars but netted several times more over 20 subsequent trips to Brazil, all paid by clients. In fact, out of about 50 countries I’ve visited, more than half were paid by clients, fellowships or scholarships.
Mine is just one example but there are thousands of others, a whole world of opportunities outside the USA. In fact, most of the growth in the world is expected to come from the emerging markets of Asia, Africa and Latin America. We are so lucky to get to participate in this global economy and we need to be intentional and strategic about how. Some people will prefer to only travel on vacation, spending money touring Cartagena or Cape Town or Seoul. Others would rather than make money and travel synergistically, whether working in social media in Bali, financial advising in Bahamas or film production in Uganda . All of these are amazing experiences, which anyone would be lucky to have. But some of these experiences are expenses which only convert into passport stamps. And others are investments which will yield relationships, opportunities and growth.
The former is consumption and the latter has potential to be immensely productive. The former is safe and short-term and the latter is often longer-term and comes with a fair share of risks. Thanks to globalization, it’s up to us to decide….. whether to strive for a jet-setting lifestyle or aspire for even more.