Waking up every morning to the piercing ring of the alarm, scrambling out of bed and getting dressed while hurriedly eating toast a few minutes prior to braving the morning traffic and making it just in time for work. This is a scene that we are all familiar with. After this race with time, prepare yourself for long hours of gruelling work only to get back home and repeat the same drill over and over again.
Imagine quitting your job one fine day, packing your bags and running away to holiday in some exotic locale, leaving all your worries behind. This is quite a fascinating prospect for most of us and something that we fantasise strongly about when it all becomes a bit too much to handle.
There has always been present in the human spirit an urge to escape their current surroundings and situations, break free and just let themselves run loose. This innate urge has always been present in us and can be said to be one of the most persisting thoughts a person can experience in their lifetime. At some point, we all ache to pack up our bags and leave all our responsibilities behind when things get too mundane.
Travelling isn’t simply undertaking a journey to somewhere. Rather, it is a conscious quest for exploration. For most of us, travel is the answer to the humdrum everyday life imposes upon us. Bugged by our cumbersome routines, we often seek escape routes. One of these escape routes appear in the guise of leaving our current setting in search of something less tedious; travelling the world and undertaking a journey that would help us “find ourselves”.
Social media and technology has invariably changed travel forever. Travelling has never been this easier and comfortable. We have multiple resources at our disposal to fulfil our escapist fantasies. Add social media influencers, bloggers and throw in a couple of hashtags such as #breakfree #wanderlust and there you have the spawn of present day social media- the perennial itch to travel.
The millennial obsession with #wanderlust has been the subject of much scrutiny by their peers. Being a part of the Internet generation has its own flaws. The “carpe diem” or live in the moment ideology of this generation has propagated a here-and-now culture, that focuses on instant gratification of the senses instead of being concerned too much about future commitments and duties. There are always tasks that we itch to avoid, responsibilities that we long to get away from and places we need to leave in order to fulfil our reinvigorated nomadic tendencies.
Millennials have often been dubbed as the “Wanderlust generation” owing to the hype that social media often creates around travelling. Despite being stereotyped as being ignorant and entitled they are known to travel more than any previous generation. Improved infrastructure that facilitates this travel plays a big role. But then again, it is the prodding from social media influencers that lights the fire under many millenials to spend money they don’t have to indulge in some wanderlust.
Studies by the United Nations indicate that nearly 200 million travellers, 20 percent of all international tourists are young people. Millennials are known to be interested in travelling abroad more than their non-millennial counterparts, as shown by studies conducted by the Boston Consulting Group. This trend, like I mentioned earlier, is partly inspired by social media and its cult of travel bloggers and influencers.
Travel has become a heavily monetized venture, where travel companies, hotels and resorts pump in oodles of money into advertising in order to attract potential customers. There has been a sudden shift in advertising keeping in mind the young consumers and their tastes. The drift towards advertising on social media via these popular bloggers and influencers, though a rather new trend is quite effective and reaches the masses trough the widespread reach of these celebrities.
These bloggers travel places without a single care in the world, having seemingly quit their full-time jobs and embarked upon a world tour funded by an abundant reserve of money. Through these cleverly disguised advertisements, the masses are sold the idea of a dream vacation for the body and soul in the pristine blue waters of Fiji or the white beaches of Maldives, places where you go and ‘discover yourself’ while sitting under a beach umbrella sipping an overpriced cocktail.
This influencer effect is also ushered by the illusion of a perfect life that is portrayed on social media by people around us, often ourselves. The entire point of social media websites is for people to portray how incredible their lives are 24/7, simply glossing over the mundane and the not-so-pretty parts. The often ignored fact is that these things often create a deep-seated disappointment and frustration among individuals that eventually affects their personal and professional lives.
Travelling is overrated
Travelling is everyone’s ultimate dream, but not all realize that travelling can be a gruelling experience as well. Not everything is perfect and it is a possibility that you may have some unpleasant experiences along the way. Also, you cannot expect to wake up one day, travel and come back to find everything in perfect order. The miracle fix according to everyone these days is to simply go travelling. Take an indefinite break from work, save some money, borrow the remainder and set off on an all-encompassing voyage and suddenly there will be revelations. After a string of epiphanies that strike you like bolts of lightning during your travels, you will quit all your bad habits, leave behind all that makes you unhappy and take on this brand new avatar that is a better, happier and more efficient version of yourself. This idea of travelling that does the round these days basically says that “travel and all your troubles will go poof! into the air. “
Western media heavily romanticizes travelling. So do the Hollywood renditions of certain movies which emphasize repeatedly on the reused and worn out idea of a vacation where you simply go and find your soul. The thought of this adventure reminiscent of “Eat, Pray, Love” where you embark upon a world-wide adventure, experience a milieu of cultures, taste delicious foreign cuisine that you find to your liking and are swooped up in some exotic foreign romance. You discover yourself and explore within you all there is to explore and on your journey back, you return as this enlightened creature who finally “knows”.
What people don’t realize is that travel is a profit-based venture. Travel bloggers make a living out of it, travel companies sell you the idea of a perfect vacation while stealthily emptying your pockets, all the people in or associated with travel know how to make a business out of it. Undoubtedly, travel is therapy at its finest but is it worth giving up the lives that you built for yourself, quitting your job and selling all assets only to find out that living 350 out of 365 days out of home isn’t your cup of tea? The escapism that travel claims to provide is only illusory, or temporary at its best.
Despite all of this, travelling has countless benefits. It is a tried and tested method for a break from tiresome routines, since getting some fresh air and having a change of atmosphere is always advisable. Travelling makes people more aware and sensitive to their surroundings. You go around and learn about various cultures, their ways and mannerisms and you learn about the kind of diversity that exists in this world outside the narrow perspective of your own culture.
Meeting new people, learning new languages, forming meaningful relationships and learning basic life skills are also things that are essential for one’s personality development. It opens your eyes up to the kind of opportunities that this world holds for you and the sort of privileges you have that are denied to the less-fortunate. Apart from giving you loads of unique experiences and stories to tell, it can also prove to be inspirational in your daily life and give you that one extra push you need. Nobody can emphasize enough on how travel is a great character builder in terms at the hurdles that are thrown your way. Navigating your way through the busy streets of Mumbai, haggling in the Moroccan spice market or even hiking your way up to the tallest peak in Peru can prove to be extremely challenging yet intensely adventurous. These experiences educate you, perplex you, frustrate you but also provide a perspective in life.
Travelling can prove to be an out-of-body experience sometimes but is it something that magically stirs up one’s life and filters out all the unpleasantness and troubles that are a part of life? Sounds improbable. If you travel with the expectations of “finding yourself” during the trip, it is possible that you might end up more dejected and broke than you were before. Travelling can only do so much as providing a break and a perspective, the rest depends on how we decide to sort our lives in order to move on. As to how you can actually discover the real “you”, it is something that takes a lifetime to figure out.