I believe there is an inherent wanderlust within all of us. I mean just look at all the Baby Boomer retirees in their RV’s, tearing up the hiking trails in their sandals & sock combos. The desire to travel isn’t new, but the inspiration and accessibility we have (that defines our generation) is the secret sauce giving us Millennials a new perspective on the “American Dream”. It drives us to want to shortcut the pathway of living out our dreams, not in retirement, but in our present-day life while we’re young.
But let’s be honest, this all started with Myspace. And by “all”, I mean our generation’s ability to inspire each other (read: provoke jealousy). As the phenomena of internet and social media grew, they also became the asterisk to whatever definition you’d like to stamp on Millennial. Consequently, the gap between our generation and those before us became much more vast because of the available information, access, and interconnectivity. With the mass-info consumption happening in our everyday lives, there is an inevitable overstimulation that creates response. Our response: we want the same freedom that our millennial followers are showing us via their profiles. We want to selfie our way through the same trails, lakes and sunsets. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming that adventurous spirit solely on the provocation of the internet. No, quite the opposite.
We’re all acutely aware of the benefits that travel brings – adventuring unknown terrain, breaking free from the monotony of the ordinary, expanding our experience of life. But this age of access has given us the ability to work from home or bring work with us. It’s made “freedom” more available than it’s ever been and it is less of a hindrance to our goal of exploration. But going beyond the ability to bring work outside of confinements, we’re just simply choosing to redefine what life experiences we can have right now, work or no work.
We see the choices the generations before us have made, leading to a life of mostly grind and little play. We’re becoming more conscious of the degenerative state of our Earth and have greater appreciation for its nature. Social media connects us to those who have found and shared unorthodox ways to integrate work and travel; these inspire us to think in terms of passion first.
The biggest question is, is the trade-off of living life to the fullest to our detriment? The answer will depend on your personal definition of success as well as your threshold for comfort. From my personal experience, most of us have the live-to-work mentality: creating a standard of living that requires most of our time working in order to maintain it. But when you consider that as only a construct of our mind, you are then free to live however and wherever you want so as long as your needs are taken of.
Cue Instagram & YouTube: these social media giants have become hubs of all things travel. We have curated trips, travel guides and sight-seeing inspiration right on our phones. These give those who’ve known nothing but the city-life the ability to see what they’ve been missing in the backcountry and likewise give the outdoorsy type a heightened appetite for adventure as they can visually see their bucket list (and add to it).
But has this unprecedented exposure become a double-edged sword? Are we now traveling for experience or vanity? This is where your personal “why” comes into play. Is it new perspective, jealousy, or passion that’s driving you? The farther-reaching result that experiences like hiking and camping brings is only accentuated when you know what your “why” is. Otherwise, it can end up just being another check on your list. This, in my opinion, makes your adventures no longer one of freedom but instead, just another job.
Regardless, compared to past generations, I believe the important aspect is that we’ve began to shift values. This has resulted in creating more adventure in our lives. And at the end of the day, isn’t life just one huge adventure? Which then really makes the desire to travel something more innate and inherent in all of us. And although we’ve been slow as a people to fully embrace that (in lieu of the anxiety to take care of life itself) we should always listen to our passions when they call. If not, how else do we become fulfilled? Adventure on!