There are various trends that millennials find themselves living up to. Whether it is having their 'selfie game' on point or indulging in the hook-up culture while looking for love, our generation is entirely different from the one preceding us.
For example, for our parents, travelling meant spending time with the family while also educating the children by taking them to museums in different cities. It happened with great planning and was mostly, a once in a year event. It required saving up and trips were taken keeping the finances in mind.
But everything for us comes from our social media. And hence, we have found a way to romanticize travelling too by giving it a fancy term: Wanderlust.
According to Wikipedia,
'Wanderlust is a strong desire for, or impulse, to wander or travel and explore the world.'
But for us millennials, it is just another trend we need to be a part of to gain social validation. A trend that we blindly follow without realizing its financial impact or the futility of it. We claim that travelling for us is all about discovering our inner selves while also discovering the world.
But let's be honest, behind all the romanticized understanding of travelling is the strong desire or impulse to show off to the world that you've travelled; to post photos on Instagram beautified by a ton of filters, and then made to sound philosophically deep with a quote about how not 'all those who wander are lost,' from an author you have no interest in reading about.
What we almost always forget is that it takes money to travel. We're young and it is kind of pointless to spend most of our savings making our Instagram feed pretty for strangers, isn't it? Yet, we keep planning trips that we can't afford simply because #Wanderlust is more a competition on social media now. I'd go as far as saying that the only reason to pretend to be so eager to travel is because we also want to post selfies from exotic locations just like what we see on our feed all day long.
If all you want from a vacation is a bunch of pictures of the wilderness subjected to a variety of filters, then perhaps your idea of getting out of the 'comfort zone' is not too well grounded.
There are only a handful of places left which can be termed pristine. Take for instance Ladakh; who hasn't seen beautiful pictures of Ladakh symbolizing the purity of nature popping up on their Instagram feed? But what people don't capture is how humans have dirtied the place with garbage. We come back with a gallery full of shareable photos but what we miss out on is connecting to the place we visit. We miss out on its history, culture and issues simply because we're just busy trying to capture the pretty parts of it.
The romanticization of travelling and wanderlust on social media platforms has impacted us to the extent that we make ourselves believe that wandering in the wilderness is an investment in ourselves, that travelling to obscure and exotic locations will broaden our mind or will change us as a person.
But life is not just about eat, pray and love.
Travelling has become a necessity now. Experiences are best preserved when they are shared with our loved ones but we live in a time where even if one is stuck on the Manesar-Gurugram toll on our way to work, more often than not, we'll see a post on Facebook or Instagram with a caption "Best Road Trip Ever". It has become a race now, a race towards appearing to be the one who is a "frequent traveller"
I don't need to go to 14,000 feet and freeze to death or have photographic evidence of soaking up the sun on a famous beach to "find" myself. If at all an introspection is required, the same can be done at any moment and anywhere. Travelling to a new place is a very personal experience but no longer do we see people coming back with stories about what the locals eat or how they dress. Instead, we have "stories" on social media platforms where the wanderlust traveller can be seen posing with a little kid or a random street dog with a beautiful river in the background.
And let's be honest, not a lot of us are interested in exploring while travelling anymore. We merely go on a travel blog and then everything becomes about emulating the experience of some random Brazilian blogger who visited Kasol on a sabbatical. Where is the curiosity when the wanderlust in us is mostly dictated by an itinerary we build after crucial inputs from Tripadvisor?
Do we become changed people after our vacation? Yes, we do. Do our vacations help us find ourselves? May be they do. But the truth is that every experience in life, a vacation or a break up or even an eventful day at work, changes us. Every single experience, on a day to day basis, helps us discover our true self.
Hence, we can stop pretending that our social media worthy vacations have anything to do with our inner selves. And while we're at it, maybe we can admit to the fact that we can travel without regular check-ins to airports, fancy hotels and even fancier restaurants.
The simplicity of travelling is something that I realized after talking to a friend who went to Goa and posted no photos at all. It was her first beach trip and she discovered the pleasure of watching a sun being swallowed up by the sea at the horizon. She tried the local cuisine there and enjoyed the local alcohol. She came back refreshed and a little more knowledgeable about another culture. But she didn't broadcast her whole experience on social media and I guess that is exactly what made her experience more personal and valuable. She became an actual traveller.