As a travelling geek, I love to share my travel tips and to read yours, either via blog posts or in travel fora and Facebook groups. Having all this information available at the click of a button or by swiping on a touchscreen is awesome. First-time travellers have it so easy nowadays. But it also creates a problem. Well, more of an issue for travelling Millennials.
Having all this information and advice from others at your fingertips is making you a lazy traveller, risk-averse and prone to stress, dear Millennial. Don't take it the wrong way. This is not an attack on you as a person. It is something I have noticed in these groups and fora. Travel stress and following the same (boring) travel route as everyone else is happening for you guys.
If you ask a traveller what (s)he wants to do on his backpacking adventure or round-the-world-trip they mention activities like bungee jumping, sky diving, climbing on this mountain, crossing that dangerous bridge or doing an extreme multi-day hike. We like taking risks. Nothing wrong with that. Go for it.
But on the other hand, having all this information available is actually making Millennials afraid of taking risks. It looks like they're afraid of finding out things for themselves. They don't like the “risk” of going somewhere where others haven't been yet. Or is it the fear of not having an “Instagram-worthy” experience?
Millennials keep going to these groups and fora to ask these simple questions:
- What's a good hostel in XYZ?
- Where can I make a photocopy in city ABC?
- Is there a tanning salon in sunny city DEF?
- Should I take a backpack or a suitcase on my trip?
- I've sent some Christmas cards to my family. Do you guys know when they will arrive?
Okay, I'm not making this up. These are all real questions I came across in the past year. And the funny thing is when someone says “why ask everything? You can easily find the answers yourself”, the average Millennial is insulted. The usual response is: “I like to hear the opinion of others” or “I'm bad at using Google”. 🙂 To be honest, almost all e-commerce sites (from accommodation to airlines) use reviews and Google creates a super-simple system that anyone can use, just start typing.
I'm not creating this post to be negative about Millennials, so let's go to the travel tips that will help you guys to get rid of or to avoid travel stress. Tips that will make your travels more exciting and more fun.
Find it yourself
The best part of travelling is discovering, experiencing, and enjoying new things. Why would you want to do something so many travellers have done already? Some of the most memorable experiences on my trips came from going in a random direction or stopping somewhere just because I felt like it, not because someone recommended it. Most of my average travel experiences came from places people have recommended me. We are all different. My interests are different and so are yours.
If you do have a question, just go to front desk staff at your hostel or – and this is a risky one 🙂 – ask someone on the street. You might end up having an interesting conversation with a stranger. Don't go to these groups to ask simple questions you can easily find the answer to yourself. You can always ask Google or Qwant (for more-privacy focussed Millennials).
Opinion vs discussion
There is nothing wrong with hearing the opinion of others. But the weird thing is that Millennials only want to hear opinions that are in line with their opinion. It's almost like they're looking for reassurance instead of an opinion. Any opinion stating the opposite leads to a “yeah but I experienced it such and such, so it's true”.
Conflicting opinions are good, they lead to a healthy discussion. Which by the way is a conversation between two or more people where each one states an opinion or experience. Often there is no wrong or right. It's all good. You learn from this. There are more truths and different experiences.
Dealing with change or setbacks
One of the most important rules of travelling is: things can and will happen. It's like a traveller's version of Murphy's Law. The more you travel, the more you'll realise that not everything can be planned. Reality is fickle. Trains can and will be delayed. Flights can be overbooked or can get cancelled. Rental cars do break down sometimes. Hostels can be overbooked. Roadworks can cause delays. Luggage can get lost. You can get sick from eating bad food or drinking bad water.
You can control some of these things but most of them are our out of your control. Why worry or get upset about things that are outside your circle of control? There are other ways of dealing with the unexpected events on your travels:
- Be flexible! Don't focus on creating a day-to-day schedule and expect that nothing will come in between.
- Get travel insurance! Most things that can go wrong on a trip are covered by travel insurance. It doesn't cost much, check the low rates for your next trip, but it will save you heaps.
- Make the best out of a bad situation! Being stranded somewhere gives you the opportunity to discover a place you normally wouldn't go to. Don't sulk, be spontaneous and enjoy the moment. You can change your plans, it's not the end of the world.
Live a little
Enjoy everything about travelling, every moment. Even the ones you weren't expecting. You'll be surprised about the amazing things you will experience as soon as you're not trying to find heaps of information before arrival. Even a bad experience is a good learning experience. So you've stayed in a terrible hostel. Next time you'll know what to look for and how to spot good and bad hostels. Experiences help us grow. They help us to become seasoned travellers, so we can give tips and advice as I did in this blog post. There is nothing wrong with getting tips or advice, as long as it's in moderation.
In case, you're wondering. Yes, I've had my share of unexpected travel experiences. Some of them turned into an amazing experience, while others were just a lesson learned.
- Getting sick in Melbourne (being unfit to fly and having to postpone flights and to extend our stay by several days). Everything was covered by our travel insurance.
- Delayed flight causing missing a connecting flight in Zurich. As it was the last flight of the day, we were stuck in Zurich. The airline put us up in a luxury hotel and we got to experience Zurich free of charge.
- Luggage that took a wrong turn on a trip from Europe to New Zealand. It turned up the next day and was delivered to my home. Saved me carrying these heavy bags myself.
- Snowed in on a winter's day in the Netherlands. All trains were cancelled. Found a cheap last-minute deal for a hotel nearby due to Booking's amazing system and had a super romantic evening in a luxury hotel.
- Engine issues on a road trip (own car), causing us to spend the night close to Atlanta, GA and to get it fixed in the morning.
Change is good
Change is fun. Life's too short to try to travel or live by a fixed plan. It might look great and it might be reassuring but reality is more fun. Enjoy all moments of travelling, the good and the not so good ones. All experiences will help you to appreciate how lucky you are to be able to travel the world and to have all these great experiences. Yes, even a “bad experience” is a good experience. Trust me… Or post your opinion or travel experiences below. Let's discuss it, dear Millenial.