Passport Privilege And Unequal Opportunities in Travel

01 February, 2024 | Blog

The world of travel often paints a picture of freedom and boundless exploration. However, this narrative overlooks a critical aspect: not all passports are created equal. Our focus in February shifts to the nuanced topic of passport privilege and unequal opportunities in global travel for those from developing countries or holding lower-ranking passports.

A picture od passport full of visa stamps on top of a map

Understanding Passport Privilege

For the last 19 years, The Henley Passport Index has been revealing stark differences in global mobility. The top 5 in the index, led by Japan, Singapore, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain sharing the 1st place, offer their citizens visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 190 countries and more. Contrast this with the last one on the list, Afghanistan, where citizens can only access 26 countries without a visa. Syrians and Iraqis have visa-free access to 29 or 30 countries constructively. Pakistan, which is 101st on the list, offer 34 visa-free destinations.

The Henley Passport Index highlights the topic of passport privilege and nations’ discrapencies in terms of freedom of entry to a number of places.

Logo of NomadMania, a global travel community

Visiting Every Country vs Passport Privilege

Our recent topic of visiting every country highlighted even more disparities in global travel. Our Ultimate Report on People Who Visited Every Country showed that the majority of these UN Masters are from developed countries.

The United States leads with 119 UN Masters, followed by Germany and the United Kingdom. Finland emerges as a true champion when considering the number of its UN Masters to its population size. Only 45 of the 193 UN countries have a citizen who has visited every nation. The scarcity of UN Masters from LPI countries speaks volumes.

Only 7 travellers, less than 2% of people who visited every country in the world, come from Low Passport Index countries (LPI), despite these nations representing a significant chunk of the world’s population. These figures starkly illustrate the uphill battle faced by travellers from less privileged nations.

A picture of Benny Prasad, the first person from a Low Passport Idex Country, who visited every country in the world, holding a trophy, all his passports and a guitar

Benny Prasad 🇮🇳  is believed to be the first LPI traveller to become a UN Master. Only 7 LPI travellers have achieved this feat.

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NomadMania’s Community Insights

Our internal marketing study further illuminates these disparities. Over 75% of our 25,000-strong community has visited up to 50 countries, with almost half sticking to 25. 6% of our members reach the UN100 Milestone, with less than 12% hitting UN75.

A chart presenting NomadMania members and their visited countries

Distribution of Countries Visited by NomadMania Members

However, there’s a clear divide: those exploring beyond 50 countries are predominantly from developed nations and older age groups. In contrast, less than 7% of our members in this group are under 35 and from developing countries. This statistic hints at the financial and time resources necessary for such extensive travel, resources more readily available to older individuals, often from wealthier nations.

A chart presenting age of NomadMania members in colleration to the number of countries visited by them

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The Influence of Economic Factors

A glance at the most travelled nations within our community – Switzerland, Norway, and Sweden – correlates strongly with their high GDP per capita. Travellers from these countries have visited beyond 55 UN countries, while the overall mean is UN37.

Most Travelled Nations an NomadMania and GDP Per Capita

Most Travelled Nations at NomadMania and GDP Per Capita

The top 5 NomadMania nations contribute to 50% of our database, expanding to more than 70% with the top 10. In general, travellers from developed countries visit an average of 41 UN countries, while their counterparts from developing countries explore around 25. This correlation with GDP highlights the economic barriers to extensive travel.

a chart representing number of NomadMania users by country

The top 5 NomadMania nations contribute to 50% of our database, expanding to more than 70% with the top 10.

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Visiting Every Country Poll Results: Challenges in Travel

Our recent community poll further underscores these challenges. When asked about the biggest challenges in achieving the feat of visiting every country, over 25% of our respondents chose the cost of travel as a significant barrier. But the hurdles don’t stop at financial constraints. Bureaucratic difficulties like obtaining visas were the third most common challenge, pointed out by over 17% of voters. These obstacles disproportionately affect those from less privileged backgrounds.

In our recent poll, the cost of travel and bureaucratic difficulties were chosen by over 42% of voters as the biggest challenges in visiting every country

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Final Thoughts on Passport Privilege And Unequal Opportunities in Travel

We’re at NomadMania to build a community that values every traveller’s story. That’s why we dedicated a created a special ranking for those from LPI countries and every year we celebrate the Biggest LPI Traveller during our NomadMania Travel Awards.

A picture of traveller Maliha Fairooz on the beach wrappen in a Bangladeshi flag

Maliha Fairooz, the winner of NomadMania Travel Award 2023 in the category – The Biggest LPI Traveller

The world of travel is complex, intertwined with economic and political factors that shape opportunities. We aim to shed light on these disparities, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for the diverse experiences within our community! Let’s explore the topic of passport privilege and unequalities in travel together in February and build together a brighter future with equal chances for every traveller!