As of 2020, 3.6% of the global population are migrants. This means that roughly 281 million people live in a different country than where they were born. That’s a significant number.
Humanity has been on the move since the beginning of time. According to the United Nations, “Some people move in search of work or economic opportunities, to join family or to study. Others move to escape conflict, persecution, terrorism or human rights violations. Still others move in response to the adverse effects of climate change, natural disasters, or other environmental factors.”
Then there are folks living a more nomadic lifestyle — working remotely while experiencing the world one country at a time. For a nomad, our passport is our golden ticket to see the world. If you hold a passport from one of the top 10 countries in the world, then some would say it’s a privilege that should not be wasted.
Global traveling is a privilege not everyone has access to.
NOT EVERY PASSPORT IS EQUAL
Each country holds a ranking based on the number of countries its has access to without a visa. According to Henly & Partners’ most recent list, Japan and Singapore hold the No. 1 spot.
The rankings do fluctuate from year to year. Many factors and politics are involved in why a citizen of one country would gain or lose entry into another country.
For example, Turkey is ranked No. 53 on Henly & Partners’ 2023 list, and their access rating is 111, meaning Turks can enter 111 countries without a visa. That also means there are 82 countries they would have to jump through hoops for to get an entry visa. It’s hard for Turkish citizens to get into countries like the United Kingdom, United States and many EU countries.
The alternative is to welcome tourists and allow them to experience the beauty of Turkey.
WHERE DO PEOPLE GO?
It is no surprise that the United States holds the top spot for the highest number of immigrants, followed by Germany.
Look at the chart below to see the countries with the highest number of immigrants.
DO YOU HAVE A GOLDEN TICKET?
One would assume if you are from one of these top-ranking countries, you would be first in line to acquire one of these shiny golden tickets, also called a passport.
Only 23% of Japanese citizens are passport holders. The Japanese prefer to stay local. Why? They enjoy being immersed in their rich culture and traditions — language barriers and being a creature of habit keep them traveling locally within Japan.
Roughly about 37% of U.S. citizens are passport holders. The United States is divided into 50 states, and many U.S. citizens stay local. Traveling within the U.S.A. can be a cultural experience of its own.
An astounding 77% of United Kingdom citizens hold passports. The majority of EU citizens are also passport holders. Europeans have the privilege of traveling with ease between the 27 countries of the European Union. Passports are nice to have, but not required; only a national ID card is.
WILL THE INTERNET REPLACE THE PASSPORT?
According to Zippia, 62% of the global population has access to the internet. That means they have access to YouTube and almost every museum worldwide. Social media has also made our world a much smaller place. Apple brought us FaceTime, and now we can be live anywhere we want with whomever we want. Who needs a passport when you have the internet?
In Google Arts & Culture, you can visit any place and the world, play games, plan a trip and explore. It’s a way to interact and learn from your laptop or phone. For example, if you type in “Turkey” in the search bar, in just seconds you can take a virtual tour of 15-plus museums like the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Innocence and much more.
As a nomad, one would typically give a parent a heads-up on one’s next destination. The parent’s first stop would be YouTube, and he or she would type in “Visit Istanbul Turkey” in the search bar. They’d get hundreds of videos to choose from. Upon arrival in Istanbul, one could Facetime the parent so he or she can see the sites. It’s amazing how one person can give details about a place just from watching YouTube and give pointers on where another person should go.
Some people have a passport and choose not to use it. Others treasure theirs like it’s their most prized possession. Everyone is different.
Globally, COVID-19 changed how we travel. One thing is for sure, though: No matter what happens, humanity will always be on the move.