Wanderlust is more than a trend. We are a rising generation of young globe trotters who are growing up with a greater global perspective than most of our predecessors. We’ve seen more places than most people get to see in their whole life time, and for some of us (myself included) the number of countries we’ve traveled to exceeds our age.
But let’s not let that get to our heads. Let’s be mindful of the extravagant privilege we have, let’s not take for granted how easily accessible the world is today, and less steward this opportunity well.
Here’s how to be a millennial, but not travel like one!
Be Present, Don’t Post
For real, put the phone down. Your followers don’t need to follow you here. Let your trips and travels be for you, not for likes and comments and attention. This doesn’t mean don’t take photos, you definitely should take pictures and videos so to commemorate the trip and remember it for years, but I challenge you to not post until you’re home.
If you can’t manage that, or your mom demanded that you post at least once every few days to let her know you’re alive, don’t you DARE scroll through the feed of other people’s posts!
I guarantee you, there is nothing happening back at home that is more exciting than where you are right now. It took a lot to get where you are, you invested time and money into this trip, don’t dismiss this opportunity to truly leave home behind and embrace this new part of the world, this new reality.
Everything happening to everyone back at home will still be there when you return. Be where your feet are. Don’t let social media rob you from fully experiencing a place or enjoying a trip. Choose to be present over posting.
Ask Locals, Not Google
If you ask Google or Siri where you should get dinner in Rome, you’re not going to be directed to the best food.
We all know about the power of digital marketing nowadays, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that SEO (search-engine optimization) and paid ads are causing the money-making businesses to come up first in our online searches. I hate to say it, but these places are not the ones with the best food. You’re far better off asking a local.
Ask your Uber driver where to drop you off at their favorite restaurant. Find someone on the street and ask them to point you towards the best street food. Go into a local business and ask the worker where all the locals hang out.
You’re guaranteed the most ethnic food and exciting experience, plus it will most likely be less busy than the ‘tourist trap’ restaurants that show up online.
Take Advantage Of Your Youth
Do it all. Even if (especially if!) it scares you. From experiences to food to adventures to cultural traditions, just do it all.
Try the paragliding in the Swiss alps, sleep in a hostel and meet other travelers from countries far and wide, do the advanced hike for the best view, taste the street foods that you see all the locals eating, and most importantly: walk! Avoid Uber and taxi as much as you can. The best way to explore a new place and feel like a local, is to travel by foot. There will come a day when you aren’t as mobile, aren’t as daring, and aren’t capable to do all the things you can do right now while you’re young. So just. do. it.
It’s up to us to preserve places for generations to come. By being a considerate traveler, keeping the natural wonders natural and free from litter, respecting the reverent sites that hold ancient history, and contributing to the efforts that are in place to conserve them, we can give generations beneath us the chance to enjoy them as much as we have.
Take Home More Than You Left With- And I’m Not Talking Souvenirs
Go out into the world on all your endeavors with an open mind and receptive spirit. Go with the intentions of learning, growing, abolishing stereotypes, and overcoming bias. Press into the things that are different from what you know, lean into things that are outside your comfort zone, and really foster the chance to come home with a broadened perspective.
Take this mindfulness with you back to your home town, back to your university, back to your office, back to your family and friends. Let’s be the generation that makes empathy and inclusivity the norm.