Wanderlust has become one of the defining words for the Millennial generation. Originating from the German dialect, the term literally translates into a deep lust for wandering. Featured in tattoos, internet memes, scrawled on North Face backpacks and t-shirts, Wanderlust has come to personify the Millennial desire to collect experiences rather than cash or material goods.
Haven risen in popularity in recent years, Wanderlust in fact is now listed on the Merriam Webster website among the top 10 percent of words used.
Why does Wanderlust embody the mood of so many of those of younger generations?
Wanderlust encapsulates the new economy that drives younger generations, the ‘experience economy’. 72 percent of Millennials choose to spend more money on experiences than material items. And according to the latest research data released by Topdeck Travel, 86 percent of Millennials would rather experience a new culture rather than spending their vacation lazing around a resort.
Add one more statistic to the pile: another 75 percent of adults born between 1980 and 2000 reported wanting to travel abroad as much as possible as one of their greatest bucket list goals. Meanwhile, 88 percent of Millennials mentioned that they travel overseas between 1 to 3 times a year. At the current rate, Millennials are on track to spend $1.4 trillion annually on travel by 2020.
What is the web savvy digital generation doing while abroad?
Unlike baby boomers and generations before who crave familiarity and creature comforts while on holiday, Millennials are venturing past their comfort zones and delving deep into local cultures and customs. “In fact, just under half of Millennials said they would pick a destination because they want to experience a particular culture, and 78 percent want to learn something new while they travel,” notes Huffington Post Travel contributor Sarah Clark.
Millennials aren’t merely spectators while abroad, 84 percent of young adults are using their vacation time to volunteer while also immersing themselves in the local cultures of their destinations.
“Other generations may not assume Millennials would use their most precious assets, their time and money, to give back to international communities they visit, but today’s young travelers are reframing that mindset,” notes a travel trend report from Chase Card Services.
Catering to this desire of putting their holiday to use, Canadian travel provider S-Trip! has found a way to implement volunteer opportunities into each one of their student trips. And if the S-Trip! reviews on their website are any indication, travelers aren’t only embracing the opportunity, volunteer activities in many ways have become the highlight of many of their trips.
The addition of a volunteer component has become so popular amongst S-Trip! travelers, the student focused company offers three types of volunteer excursions: eco-conservation, building and restoration of community buildings, and cultural exchange. The program, which was kick started in 2010, has also become a chance for local residents to interact and engage with travelers.
“The work that S-Trip! volunteers do allows our staff to focus on improving the facilities and programs provided for the 55+ children that live at this home. With their support we have restored our kitchen, living room and library!” reads one of the many S-Trip! reviews from a local community leader in Mexico.
This type of enriching experience feeds into the Millennial experience economy mentality, which values personal growth and adventure above job titles and corporate ladder accession. After all, they are the Wanderlust generation.