Millennials seeking a sense of purpose while living in the moment, especially one captured by social media, have made travel a higher priority than saving for a home, car or even paying off debt according to a 2016 study by the marketing research firm Gfk in conjunction with Airbnb.
In fact, over 70% of millennials feel that travel is an essential part of their identity, but as someone who has experienced the jet-setting lifestyle in my early twenties, I can attest to the fact that while it may sound glamorous to travel the world, the answers millennials seek can’t be found in the bottom of a suitcase.
In fact, instead of offering clarity or perspective, travel was just a distraction from the more pressing, albeit less fun, necessities of living a well-rounded life such as learning a trade, gaining key life skills, and developing an acceptance of delayed gratification. In other words, “adulting” became an unfamiliar territory.
I suggest millennials not feed into the existing stereotype of our generation and avoid being a living example of the Stanford marshmallow experiment. Instead, millennials should build their nest before they fly because otherwise, they are merely seeking reward without having put in the work thus returning home to an unstable foundation.
Earning an income while reaping the benefits of exotic locales appears to be the best of both worlds, but as a result, millennials are building less equity in not only financial investment but also social capital. While millennials save 36% more of their annual income than their generational counterparts, 63% admit they utilize their savings for travel, dining, and fitness rather than retirement or planning for the future as noted in Merrill Edge’s 2017 report.
In addition, millennials are not putting down roots but preferring a no-strings-attached, nomadic lifestyle, which can impede networking abilities and the curation of future job prospects.
My lifestyle as a writer and entrepreneur could be considered nomadic, yes, but that’s because I laid the foundation―through disciplined skill building and refining my value―to sustain it. Aimless travel, not tied to building a skill or a business enterprise, is not likely to increase a millennial’s value to others or produce a tangible return on investment moving forward.
Invest in yourself, your future, identify the best place to move as a millennial, plant your roots and enjoy more substantial adventures once you’ve laid the groundwork. This process doesn’t take as long as you think. Travel has numerous benefits, including exposure to diverse cultures, and that’s not something to be discounted. However, traveling in your early twenties before this process is simply procrastination with a better view.