How many people have heard about their parents’ backpacking through Europe and accidentally eating cow brains for dinner? To my surprise these things actually happened to my mother the nurse (she is cooler than I thought). But what about her mother or grandmother? The further we dive into past generations, the less likely they are to have traveled for purposes other than migration, why?
Maybe you have not thought about it before, but if you are reading this article and you were born between the 1980s and 2000s, then you my friend are a millennial and you were meant to travel. Why is that so? Because the world can be your oyster.
Perhaps your grandparents or their parents only traveled to start a new life, not for the pure enjoyment of experiencing the world. Or maybe they were wealthy and had the privilege to do such things. Unlike the old majority, we live in a world where exploring the world is an activity that everyone wants to be a part of and can do inexpensively if they so seek to.
Between the couples on Instagram who ditched the 9 to 5 to find peace on a sailboat and the endless travel blogs, life on the less traveled road looks appealing. But it turns out that road is much more traveled than you may think, maybe it’s a worn road. In 2014 the World Travel Market found that 20% of international travelers are a part of the millennial generation.
The endless array of travel images and stories online is a testament to how socially acceptable traveling has become for young people, to the point that it’s almost become a cliché. I think this has something to do with the set of societal expectations that every generation has to deal with. These days millennials are being exposed to different lifestyle choices. Unlike their grandparents (and perhaps their parents too), millennials are no longer expected to get a job and get married right away. Now the quest can be one for self-fulfilment as opposed to immediate procreation. Well, that is if you wish to make it so.
The World Travel Market also found that by 2020 over 320 million international trips will be taken by those who are part of the millennial generation (a.k.a. generation Y). The director general of the World Travel Market Dave Chapman explains that “The millennial generation is growing up in a technologically-advanced world where travelling and communication go hand-in-hand and are easier than ever before.” Basically it is the things that separate us from older generations—including our excessive cellphone use and by extension, a fear of being alone—that make traveling seem less daunting. The truth is if you have a cell-phone and Internet connection, you will never be alone even if you are by yourself and this is why it is easier than ever to feel connected when traveling the globe. Not to mention websites like Airbnb make it easy for solo (and not) travellers to find a safe and affordable place ahead of time.
I’m happy to think that I have grown up as a part of an increasingly liberal and privileged generation, one where it is acceptable to travel to China to study film or rent a room in someone’s house halfway across the world with just the click of a button. There are ways to get around the world, whether it involves being an au pair in France, teaching English in Japan, farming in Israel or building houses in Nepal, you just have to get creative and do it.
Except there are things that millennials have to consider. While you are out on your quintessential travel trip, jobs back home are filling, people are going off to grad school, getting real jobs and having families. You may be led to fear that traveling is a waste of time or that your life is a ticking time bomb. Regardless of the liberated spirit of Generation Y, there is a lot of pressure on these millennials. There is the pressure to succeed but also to see the wonders of the world before they may disappear for good.
No matter your age, you are alive and whether you like it or not, you live in a world where boundaries are being broken all the time. So the choice is up to you, what kind of life do you want to live? Is it one where traveling is an escape from reality—or is travel in fact the reality you have chosen for yourself? Ask your self if you want to live to work or work to live.
This article originally appeared on The Plaid Zebra and is republished here with permission.