Vacation was exactly that scenario for me as a child: an old caravan in a small town on the North Sea, surrounded by wild growth, a terrace made of rotten wood with three colorfully thrown together chairs and a folding table. And of course the view of the dunes on one side and directly on the dining table in our neighbors’ caravan on the other side. Every summer my mother would take my little brother, our dog and me to the exact same place. Precisely because there was simply no more. And I loved everything about it. The lively hustle and bustle at the campsite, the camper that is worthy of being torn down, which today might be affectionately described as vintage – and of course the time by the sea.

And even though it wasn’t a big trip and we didn’t have the privilege of many children to explore the world, I know today: we were lucky! Because many single parents can’t afford a vacation at all – and the trend is increasing every year. The high prices for trains, flights and accommodation as well as record-breaking costs of living are leaving more and more vacationers with their unfulfilled wanderlust. This deprives many people – especially the young among us – of valuable opportunities.

But back to the numbers: According to current Eurostat data, one in five people in Germany cannot afford a one-week vacation. Travel is already increasingly becoming a luxury item. And as always, those who suffer are those who are least responsible for the cause: children. According to data from the Federal Statistical Office, single parents are most affected at 43.2 percent, followed by families with two adults and three or more children (31.3 percent). This means that through rising prices we are not only excluding the most socially disadvantaged, but especially the youngest among us. Instead of broadening their horizons, they spend their summers on balconies.

Of course, a summer at home can be nice – for children and adults alike. But shouldn’t each of us be granted a break from everyday life every now and then? It doesn’t have to be a luxury hotel in Ibiza or a long-distance trip to Australia or Africa, but a short trip to another world has so many positive effects on us that it should actually be a human right. (You can dream). The gap between rich and poor is so noticeable in everyday life and is particularly worrying for those who don’t have much in their bank account. Those who have to work hard to avoid a vacation actually need it much more than those who spontaneously book a flight to the USA.

So the whole thing also has a social dimension. Anyone who travels opens their eyes to new perspectives and cultures and demonstrably becomes more tolerant and open to other opinions and views. Something we can use more in days like these than another debate driven by money. If we exclude from summer vacation those who work day after day to ensure the prosperity of our country, then we will only increase the dissatisfaction of the population. Rising prices for flights and entry fees to travel destinations are therefore a theoretically good remedy against mass tourism, but in the end they ensure that access to vacation becomes something that is reserved for an ever smaller group.

Admittedly, the problem is not new, there have always been people who cannot afford vacations. But the number of those affected is now increasing – and that is a worrying signal for the industry. Last year there was a decline in traveling families. And because the number of bookers is falling while tourism sales are increasing, a price limit is now being discussed. That means a cap on airfares and vacation packages. That would be a first step towards more justice. But that’s far from everything that would be necessary to prevent travel from becoming a luxury good. Among other things, we need more funding models for single parents, low-threshold offers for children and affordable long-distance transport.

And of course awareness of the value that vacation can have, especially for the youngest among us. In my case, I can only say that I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t had the opportunity to break out of everyday life once a year, get to know new people, smells, sounds and impressions and spend a wonderful week in this to spend time in a shabby camper on the North Sea. That was also luxury, but in an affordable way.