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Generation Wanderlust

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08/20/2015

Generation Wanderlust photo

As I prepare to jet off for a week-long trip to South America, a trip I have been saving for and planning for years, I can't help but wonder about the rise of Millennials making "hashtag wanderlust" not only a thing but a way of life. Traveling is emphasized more than material goods, and spanning the globe is deemed far more important than holding down a 9-to-5 job. While this sounds all well and good (I mean who wouldn't want to take exotic elephant rides through Thai jungles), to me the entire concept feels a bit unrealistic.

Quotes pervade social media emphasizing traveling while you're young. Jobs and money are deemed secondary to the knowledge and memories you acquire while traveling. The "lose yourself to find yourself" in pretty much any country but America argument makes this phenomenon appealing and glamorous to an entire generation.

While it seems like everyone and their mother is taking hashtag wanderlust to heart by eating the local food in Asia and wearing the local garb in India, I can't help but wonder, how are people really doing this?

First there is the cash. Young 20-somethings who can afford to travel the world with no means of income and no job to return to can only mean that they are supported by others, are spending a lot of their savings or have won the lottery. Whatever the case, these people seem to be the exception among college grads as opposed to the rule.

Second there is the sheer reality of the thing. I recently read an article in Cosmo that chronicled the adventure of a young woman in her move to the Caribbean to scoop ice cream. She escaped from her well-paid albeit demanding corporate job in New York, completely changed her life and has apparently never been more satisfied. As inspirational as that is, I don't know too many New Yorkers who would be so casual about waking up to find poultry in their bathroom.

Although the article encourages taking risks, trying new things, and falling off the grid, it's a bit hypocritical -- it ran in a major fashion magazine! Still, I recognize this woman drastically changed her life, lives the way she wants to AND stands on her own two feet. For those who travel the world in this way, applause.

Packing your life up to move somewhere foreign and mysterious is no easy task, irrespective of how you achieve means to live. Not everyone can do that. But not everyone has the wanderlust gene either. Maybe that's okay too? What if it's okay to just try new things on the weekends? Or travel to another city to visit a friend? Shouldn't these less drastic things be encouraged and valued too? What ever happened to just treating yourself to a vacation?

My upcoming trip has been three years in the making with a group of friends who haven't been together in the same place since they took pictures together in their caps and gowns. Would I love to extend this trip, travel the world for a year and forget about my responsibilities? Of course! But for now I'll settle for doing that one week out of the year and to be honest, I don't think that's too shabby.

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