Deep down I think we all have a little “wanderlust” in us. We are born with an innate curiosity to see, explore and to learn. Some may only wander a few miles from home, while others may wander a few thousand miles.
As a product of the millennial generation I’m proud to call myself a dreamer, and at times an idealist. We millennials are often scoffed at because we move around, we change careers and we usually have an idea of what we want…and don’t like to wait. Fortune said it perfectly in their article, “Everything You Need To Know About Your Millennial Co-Workers.”
However, no generation better than us can recognize how quickly the world is moving, and if we don’t keep up, opportunities easily slip through our fingertips. Before you know it someone else has your idea, has figured out how to market it better than you, and overnight has become a viral internet sensation.
With the internet at our fingertips, Curtiss and I constantly felt taunted by the photos of all of the beautiful places there are in the world staring back at us, and at the rate we were working, we would only be visiting those photos via Buzzfeed articles and travel blogs. Aside from the beautiful places we looked at, Curtiss marveled at artists who had the freedom to play any time of the year, all over the world.
This realization lead us to buying a utility trailer, having it shipped to us via a car ferry while living in Juneau, AK, converting it into a tiny house, selling nearly all of our belongings, walking away from our careers, and chasing Curtiss’s dream of playing music professionally. It is, and might always be, one of the crazier things we’ll do in this lifetime…but we wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Here are 5 reasons why every millennial should travel:
- You learn how to talk to strangers. I know this seems contradictory to what we’re taught as children, but there is a skill in having a conversation with someone you’ve never met before. As we’ve traveled across the country we have met so many young men & women who are similar to our age, yet can barely get past asking the basic conversation starters, “Where are you from?” “Where do you work?” “Where did you go to school?” before retreating to the safety of their smartphones. Without conversation you lose out on networking opportunities…
- You learn how to ask questions and when to accept help. Before hitting the road my stomach felt this little nervous flicker every time I had to call a business to ask if they hosted live music, or contacted a Harvest Host to ask if we could stay with them. I was much more comfortable e-mailing and hiding behind my keyboard. Especially in our technology saturated society it can be easy to forget how to be face to face with a stranger while asking a question, admitting you don’t know something, or knowing when to accept help.
- You learn what’s important to YOU. When traveling, away from the security and comfort of “home,” you figure out what’s important to you, whether it be heartfelt or trivial. You learn whether you can handle big cities, rural areas, whether you like the mountains, the ocean, the desert or something in between. You also learn whether you can handle being in the thick of our world’s ever-changing weather, with few places to escape it. You learn if you can handle plans changing last minute or those same plans not going at all how you pictured they would. You learn whether you can live with a little bit of uncomfortableness, since traveling long and far distances isn’t usually luxurious. Anything and everything happens while traveling and being out on the open road. It’s a place to learn your limits and where you shine.
- You develop a greater appreciation for people. Time and time again we are blown away by people’s generosity, open hearts, lending hands and welcoming smiles. In the books “The Kindess of Strangers,” “Wild,” or “Eat, Pray, Love“…and I’d hazard to guess most other “wanderlust” books, you read tales of others’ experiences while traveling and all of them talk of the good people they meet. Traveling opens your eyes to the world, and all of the people who share it.
- You learn the internet isn’t real life. As comical as it may sound, there is an incredible amount of negative news that circulates via social media, it’s easy to fall victim to blanket statements that target specific populations, or find yourself asking, “Is this what our world is coming to?!” Of course I don’t mean to turn a blind eye to the bad that does happen, but there is so much good that happens every day, yet is overlooked and not reported. Traveling helps you decide your own thoughts and opinions on tourist destinations, small towns, big cities, various states, aspects of our nation’s history, and most importantly, the people. It gives you real life experiences you can’t get by looking at a screen.
Since leaving our residence in Juneau, Alaska 9 months ago, we have traveled over 19,000 miles, driven through 27 states, have seen places that remain on people’s bucket lists for years, and have met some of the most incredible people. We’ve learned more from traveling than any amount of education or jobs could have taught us. When we re-enter the workforce we will enter as new versions of ourselves. In the last 9 months we have experienced a lifetime of stories, and each of our experiences has helped us to better understand our world, the people we share it with, and most importantly, that anything is possible.