Louis Vuitton or a plane ticket? I’d opt for the latter. I thought I was a unique snowflake, but apparently I’m just a millennial. Seventy-eight percent of my generation chooses experiences such as concerts, festivals and travel over “buying something desirable,” according to an Eventbrite study.
Bay Area concerts and festivals are undoubtedly fun, but there’s a vast world to explore with just a plane ticket and a bit of savings.
The first commercial flight was just over 100 years ago, and now there are more than 1,000 flights leaving San Francisco International Airport every day. We are more connected than ever before, both physically with transportation and online with social media.
In the last 15 years we went from AOL and MySpace to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and a variety of other apps. These platforms are primarily used by millennials as a means of staying in constant contact, as well as constant competition.
Some people post their entire day on Snapchat. We try to create a life worth sharing instead of a life worth living.
We order the $10 avocado toast and snap a foodie photo. We go to concerts and check in by sharing our location. We spend more time trying to get the perfect shot of a sunset than actually watching it.
We live in a time where self-validation comes from likes and followers, instead of liking yourself. We’ve surpassed the Joneses and are now trying to keep up with the Kardashians.
It’s easy to adopt a negative mindset towards millennials, even when you are one. It’s easy to associate this generation with vanity, entitlement and shallowness, but that’s not why we travel.
We suffer from an ailment of the psychological nature, the great FOMO: fear of missing out. This could mean we fear missing out on the experiences seen in our peers’ posts. Alternatively, we could be afraid of simply not experiencing everything that is within our reach.
When I graduated from high school, my Spanish teacher gave me a copy of Dr. Seuss‘s “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” She was well aware of how indecisive I was about a major to pursue and what I wanted to do with my life.
Fast forward a couple semesters at the JC; I’d completed courses in everything from psychology to economics. I saw the posters for studying abroad in Florence and decided, “What do I have to lose?” I signed up and proceeded to have the most transformative experience of my life.
I learned about passion in Italy, not in the romantic sense, but having passion for everyday things.
On a visit to Votumna, a small biodynamic winery, the winemaker held the soil in his hand and said, “This is my beautiful.” He didn’t make wine in the hopes of becoming wealthy. He did so out of pure dedication and found real joy in it.
Florence is bursting at the seams with art. I saw Michelangelo’s “David” and Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus.” I stopped in small local shops and met artisans still practicing the crafts passed down to them from generations before.
I sat in small piazzas and on the steps of churches at all hours, eavesdropping on conversations of fellow travelers and students. I watched an old married couple dance to street music without a care in the world.
I gained perspective in Florence. I’d been the girl who always wanted to travel and now that I had, there’s no way I could stop.
My best experiences weren’t the moments I shared on my Instagram. They were the conversations with complete strangers whose perspectives and insights influenced my own.
I came back from the three-month experience with more than a camera full of Insta-ready moments; I came back with a thirst for the world.
I’ll leave you with the wise words of Dr. Seuss, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”