Millennials: The Wanderlust Generation

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BLACKSBURG, Va., Nov. 7 – Memories for a Lifetime: Millennial Mallory Reckling wrote down her adventures while studying abroad in a journal. She uses it today as inspiration for places she will travel to next. “I’d rather spend my money on experiences than a T-shirt,” says Reckling.

by Karli Gillespie–

Millennials are commonly stereotyped as a lazy, materialistic, technology-obsessed, job-hopping generation. But another characteristic not so often heard? Their sense of wanderlust – the strong desire to travel.

According to an official Expedia travel report, millennials – or those born between the years of 1980 and the early 2000s – travel more than any other past generation in terms of business and leisure, and spend more than $200 billion annually on these adventures.

But what has sparked this generation’s desire to travel?

One reason is the effect social media and technology has had on making travel more easy and accessible. Virginia Tech senior Mallory Reckling studied abroad in Spring 2016 in Switzerland for the International Business in Lugano: Combining Theory and Practice Program, and explained how technology made her time abroad easier than ever.

“All the different apps available made [traveling] way easier,” says Reckling. “Before you would have had to use a [physical] map and print out information ahead of time, but now it’s all in the palm of your hand [with smart devices]. You can just look up where you want to go right then and there, and it updates as you go. You can compare prices, use third-party websites such as Skyscanner Ltd. and find ways to save money.”

In addition to travel being more accessible than it once was, many millennials say that it is the idea of experiencing different cultures that drives their passion to go abroad.

“I was aware of my own ignorance [of other cultures] and I wanted to see what all the hype was about,” says Maggie Price, a Virginia Tech student who studied abroad her junior year. “I learned more in those four months [abroad] than I learned in a classroom my entire life. It was unbelievable and remarkable. There are emotions I felt I didn’t know people could feel. I felt full of “awe” when I went to new places – especially Sevilla, [Spain].”

Price’s decision to study abroad was not difficult with the support of her parents. Yet she believes that the overall perception of young people taking the time to travel before employment is more acceptable than it once was.

“We’re known as a very selfish generation – doing things because we want to better ourselves,” Price says. “But I think that is a positive as well. It’s more acceptable to do things for yourself. Back in the day, I don’t think someone would be okay with [their child] taking a year off to travel, and now I think that is something commendable.”

To learn more about Virginia Tech study abroad opportunities, check out the VT Global Education Office for more information.

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According to a survey taken by Virginia Tech students, traveling abroad is a top priority for many. Read on to see in more detail how important travel is to the millennial generation.

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