Take any cruise, bus tour or group trip, and you’re bound to witness both sides of the travel world: the millennials and, well, everyone else. From rope swings to festive dances, the millennials, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, gladly step into the limelight, and ask their fellow non-millennial travelers “Would you mind taking a photo?” Grimacing, the non-millennial accepts said camera, takes the photo, and uses this opportunity to build a case for why twenty-something travelers are “terrible.”
Now, being a twenty-something millennial myself, I’ll admit I’m a bit biased. I’ve grown up with digital captures of every travel memory, and like my fellow millennials, I don’t hate it.
But I do hate the stereotypes, the unfair assumptions that all twenty-something travelers are self-centered attention hogs who care more about getting the perfect snap than enjoying the cultural experience.
It’s simply not true, and that’s why I’m here to put a lid on 11 misconceptions people have about travelers in their twenties.
1) It’s all about partying
If all we wanted was a party, why would we spend our hard-earned money to fly overseas? Home has plenty of cheap, party-rific bars.
Yes, we may like to party while traveling, but it’s about more than just getting slammed. Bars are a great way to meet locals and experience the night-life culture unique to each city. So keep on drinking, my millennial friends, and don’t let a skeptical traveler’s side-eye stop you from being you.
2) It’s budget or bust
Another universal assumption about twenty-something travelers? We’re cheap. Now, cheap is not a bad thing whatsoever, but the notion that millennial travelers should only stay in hostels or eat street food could turn off other young twenty-somethings who want to travel but can’t fathom sleeping among strangers.
Like every generation, we travel how we want to. For some, that’s budget. For others, it’s luxury. Travel preference is entirely up to you, so don’t let stereotypes stop you from pursuing your own path.
3) You’re not serious about your career
I’ve heard this one far too often. Millennials are foregoing the workplace by quitting 9 to 5s to travel the world. Per usual, this societal change is met with skepticism. Some generations think this nomadic lifestyle means we’re not serious about our careers, but in reality – we’re incredibliy driven.
Millennials may not have 9-to-5 jobs or permanent homes, but in order to live freely, they have to work their you-know-whats off. That means staying up late to pitch new article ideas, or waking up early to write for new clients. We may not have jobs in the traditional sense, but millennials are a hard-working generation with careers.
4) You’re spoiled or a trust-fund baby
If only it were that easy. While trust-funders do exist, that hardly makes up the majority. As I mentioned, we’re working long, strenuous hours and nixing nonessentials like fancy shoes and electronics to save money for a life of travel.
Twirling through the mountains. Camping along the sea. These Instagram shots make the traveling millennial’s life look unattainable, but believe me – it’s not. All it takes is a good camera and some savvy photography skills, and you could be living this same kind of life. The only difference? These millennials had the guts to risk it all. It’s absolutely attainable for any generation – it’s all about taking that chance.
6) You’ll never meet “the one”
This is an assumption twenty-something travelers know far too well. “You’re traveling solo, rarely at home … how will you ever meet the right spouse?” (Said almost every non-millennial ever.)
The fact is, you can easily meet someone on the road – and you could just as easily not. If we’re traveling solo, we’re already confident without ourselves, and we don’t need another person to make us happy.
7) You’re irresponsible
“You’re leaving everything back home to travel the world? How irresponsible!”
Yes, it may seem like leaving a cushy job and a steady paycheck is irresponsible (maybe?), but the fact of the matter is, it’s boring. The same routine, day in day out, may feel comfortable, but the most exciting side of life comes from not being comfortable. We stay on top of our finances and figure life out like every generation before us – but we’d prefer to do it on our own terms.
8) You’re vain
First of all, let’s clear something up. Not all twenty-something travelers love the selfie stick. And of those who do own a selfie stick, most are using it to gather content for a blog or travel article – not to perfect the “duck face.”
Yes, we do want the perfect photo of our incredible vacations, but I hardly think that’s vanity. It’s capturing a life-long memory.
How dare we?!
9) You’re naïve
When I tell elder loved ones I’m heading to Morocco or Tanzania – or heck, even France these days – I’m met with skeptical looks and the all-too-familiar lecture about traveling to unsafe places.
I realize we’re in a rather terrifying time, but that doesn’t mean these “riskier” places are no-gos. It means you have to be smart – which we typically are – in order to be safe.
Twenty-something travelers may come off as naïve, but most of us are far from it. We just don’t let the media’s interpretation of the world hold us back from discovering it for ourselves.
10) You put your life at risk
We skydive. We bungee jump. We ride dune buggies in the Sahara with strangers (cough, one of my favorite experiences ever, cough).
Actually, thinking about it, I guess this stereotype is true. Us twenty-something travelers do put our lives at risk. But what’s the alternative? Potato couch-ing with Netflix? Please.
11) You give your country a bad name
While studying abroad in my early twenties, teachers and other non-millennials would warn us not to go out at night because it’d reflect poorly on our country.
Now, if we were trashing bathrooms or vandalizing storefronts, of course that would make our country look bad. But that’s not why we wanted to go out on the town – we wanted to go out to literally see the town. See the people. Explore the city through a different, illuminated lens.
Having a good time does not put our home countries to shame – acting irresponsibly (something any generation can be guilty of) does.
Stereotype a generation, and 9 times out of 10 you’ll be wrong. Just like twenty-something travelers aren’t all partiers and irresponsible trust-fund babies, not all non-millennials are judgers. I’ve met countless people across generations who are living the nomadic dream, and risking it all for the thrill of life.
The purpose of this piece is to quash any misconceptions about millennial travelers, and to encourage openness across the entire travel community, whether you’re a Boomer backpacking through Africa, a millennial cruising across Alaska, or anyone in