As a millennial, I have noticed a recurring trend among my generation that is counter to the belief that we spend all our time on our devices: we travel so, so much.
Travelling has become almost second nature. Instead of saving up for a house, more and more of us are saving up for a long, cost-effective, whirlwind trip across Europe or South America. We work longer hours at our part-time jobs so that we can afford to get away once and awhile. Even while we struggle in the current economy to make ends meet, in the back of our minds, we are always wanting to discover new places and cultures.
As not-millennials, my parents are somewhat confused by this. Why am I spending so much money to take a red-eye to London? Why not just spend a lot less and go to a resort in Mexico? Also, why am I planning on leaving for a month? These are questions I have struggled to answer because, quite frankly, these choices just seemed like no-brainers to me. Which made me wonder — what happened during the years between my generation and my parents’ that made my views on travelling so different from theirs?
There is one obvious change that has happened since my parents were my age: the internet. Like everything else, the internet has changed why people travel, how they travel, and how much they travel.
Yet, I seem to take the internet for granted when planning a trip. When I book hotels, I look at maybe five different websites, if not more. Do not even get me started on flights — I check those religiously every day. If I have a question, Google has my back. What if the internet did not exist? Would I have to, like….call? CALL a hotel to book a room? How did that even work? How did you know you were getting the best price? Evidently, it probably was not easy (or fun) to plan trips before the internet came along. Having access to many more options also means we probably get much better deals than ever before.
How Did I Catch ‘Wanderlust?’
Every morning I open Instagram to find a collection of posts from the blogs I follow. Despite not actually following any particular ‘travel’ account (even though there are a plethora of them out there), I still receive recommended or sponsored posts boasting a country, province or state. They are surreal pictures, taken from the highest of heights, showcasing views I could only wish to see at one point in my life — except right now they are in my hand. These posts have an insane amount of likes and the travel accounts have an enormous base of followers, because who wouldn’t want to see breathtaking ocean views or sit atop an iconic mountain?
The internet builds travel culture to the extreme. If you are not posting about travelling, then barely no one knows you have travelled; if you have not travelled, then you obviously cannot post about it to your social media. The idea of either of those happening to me leaves me feeling as though I am missing the biggest bandwagon of our generation.
So, why do millennials travel? Partly because the internet demands it — that is the pessimistic outlook. But I’m an optimist, so there has to be another reason.
The internet has made globalization and connections infinitely easier than they have ever been before. Sure, my parents could have written to a pen pal overseas, and they could have caught ‘wanderlust’ over their friend’s accounts of their foreign country. But the chances of those happening were far and few between, much like it is difficult for us students to arrive to class without a laptop. With a simple Google search, I am able to find out almost everything about a country, city or island — Wikipedia is almost guaranteed to have it. And those beautiful Instagram posts? Yup, they are on Google too. Whereas before, our parents were limited to stories or photographs sent to them via snail mail, we are virtually unlimited in our access to information, pictures, stories, and personal accounts of other countries. And that, in and of itself, has become travel’s greatest marketing tool. The travel destination itself does its own marketing.
In my opinion, travelling to a new place seems obviously worth it. Because despite how many photos we can look at through a screen, you do not get to define a place or a moment as your own until you are standing in front of it and your brain processes what it means to be there. You will not understand the size, the brevity of a landmark, or the customs of a people unless you walk alongside them. I travel because of the internet, yes, but I also travel because I know that experiences are one of the best things you can spend your money and time on.