Dear millennial travellers,
It appears that we – the world’s ‘older travellers’ – have been collectively lumped into one basket, and I for one do not appreciate it. According to the founders of Global Degree, an online community urging travellers to visit all 193 UN nations in the world in order to obtain a Global Degree, we are merely existing, which equates to death in their eyes. Global Degree recently released one of the most ridiculous marketing videos I have EVER seen – and I’ve seen a lot of things. The video, which quickly went ‘viral’ before being taken offline, implies that ‘we’ chose to forego the pleasures of travel and adventure in order to work in cubicles to pay off mortgages (you can read Ben Groundwater’s response in Traveller here). Apparently ‘we’ are playing it safe – we always have – by buying into society’s expectations of what it means to be responsible adults.
While it may have been intended to inspire a new generation of travellers, the message from these social media influencers is patronising. They appear to be under the impression that Baby Boomers have never ventured outside our comfort zones. But what’s more offensive is that, according to them, my generation is happy for war, racism, bigotry and cruelty to continue. The video implies that we are somehow envious of younger generations, and look to them for supposed answers to the many ills of the world.
Of course, I don’t want to do anyone falling into the millennial age group the disservice of generalising. But anyone privileged enough to travel and work remotely could consider how they came to be where they are, and what sacrifices their families may have made to give them the opportunity to pack up their lives and venture out into the world. Travel is an education, and what it taught me was how lucky I am.
My generation were the original backpackers; growing up at a time when many of us were able to travel across Asia to Europe by train, motorbike, bus and clapped-out car in a time of no internet, no smartphones, no drones shooting hi-res footage of our adventures. We journeyed through Africa in the backs of peanut trucks. We hitchhiked around Afghanistan. We drove for days on end through Outback Australia in Kombis. When we ran out of money, we worked in kitchens, on farms, for local shopkeepers. We didn’t have the luxury of calling home and having our parents wire us funds, nor did we have credit cards to amass enormous amounts of debt and get us out of a pickle. We just did it. We adventured. We met people face to face (I believe you call that ‘IRL’). We didn’t have translation apps on hand to understand what our new friends were saying to us.
So from one generation to another: by all means, travel, see the world, go on grand adventures. But be aware that the opportunity to travel is a privilege. Give back to the places you go. And perhaps try travelling as we did – digital free.
A well-travelled Baby Boomer
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