The Road Less Traveled

November 3, 2017

I myself am a millennial, tried and true, and I am not obsessed with traveling the world.

When I was in high school, a teacher once said, “All these teens, they think travel is a full time occupation,” and I still think it’s hilarious because I look at social media influencers for a living, and that couldn’t be more true.

My Instagram doesn’t read, “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list,” “Work. Travel. Save. Repeat,” or “To Travel is to Live.”

This is something I’ve had to come to terms with because being a millennial without the travel bug is akin to not having an Instagram at all or never having taken a selfie.

Many of my friends dream of a day when they can explore the world unattached, finding themselves, learning new languages, drowning in culture. Some of them are saving and wishing for the day they walk into their boss’s office and ask for a year off to roam. I do recognize the beauty of this dream, but it isn’t mine.

This realization has come from a few experiences that I’ve had. When I have traveled, which I still recognize as an immense privilege and gift, my favorite moments haven’t been gazing upon the Colosseum, driving through the Alps, or looking out from the Empire State Building. My favorite moments have been playing cribbage with my dad, being holed up in a hotel room with bottles of wine and friends laughing uncontrollably, and doing my makeup dancing around with my mom. In addition, Minnesota is my favorite place in the world, and I love, love, love home. There’s so much beauty here!

Planning the trip can be fun: Dreaming about white sand beaches, European streets, or paper lanterns floating across the water. Seeing those things can be amazing too, but the best time I’ve had — what’s brought me the kind of happiness I’m looking for — is building the genuine relationships that can’t be made easily, belonging to someone, being truly known and loved.

Researchers have even found that we derive most of our happiness from anticipating the trip, rather than being on it. Large trips, long plane rides, packing suitcases, getting lost and language barriers have been sources of stress for me, not relaxation. I’m all for taking your vacation days, but I’d rather go a few hours away. North America is stunning and worth exploring. A cabin in Duluth this past spring with my friends was a hundred times more special than a weeklong trip in Germany a few months earlier.

I apologize for the mushiness of this blog post, and if you’ve caught the travel bug, I encourage you to travel on. But if you’re in the same boat, let’s be friends and read by the fire this winter while everyone else is in Fiji.