Reining In #TravelGoals

Some would describe Gen Z’s desire to backpack through China as derivative.  Others would diagnose the millennial as irresponsible for planning their next excursion and not their 401K growth.  However the world tries to explain it away, there is no question that there are 20/30 somethings going places that 50/60 somethings are still dreaming about. Whether putting the traditional retirement track to shame or deliberately investing in experiential living, we can all agree new generations find more value in having an “experience” and investing in travel than owning more things or complicated retirement planning.

#Wanderlust has become a booming business for brands.  Businesses have learned to tap millennials’ sources of inspiration for reliable streams of income, somewhat teetering on the edge of capitalizing from a generation’s vulnerability.  Truth is, young people have a complicated relationship with traveling and the #travelgoals noise has caused many of us to trip into financial irresponsibility. Try to keep the following money traps in mind while seeking out empowering experiences.

1. You can’t mirror an experience.

A fundamental problem with travel advertising is that it inappropriately tempts us to seek out an experience based on how we feel when we see someone else enjoying an exotic vacation. But the travel experience is personal and impossible to miss out on or recreate.  Think about it.  Your friend posts pictures of ATV-ing in Dubai.  They seem happy –fulfilled even –and you want that too, so you spend the $4000 for transportation and lodging to get there.  After the ATV ride you’re hot, jet-lagged, and realize all you really wanted was to ATV in a new place and Palm Springs would have been just fine.  An experience is not recreating someone’s portrayal of their vacation.  An experience is the unique interpretation of your own adventure.  Once we make this distinction, we are less inclined to spend thousands of dollars attempting to mirror someone else’s portrayal of their vacation.  Instead we will decipher how to design a trip that will foster an equally fulfilling experience, using advertising as inspiration.       

2. If it was “too” convenient to book, it was probably “too” expensive.

Gone are the days where we have to spend hours to plan a vacation. Understanding younger generations’ need for convenience, companies have dedicated countless resources to create travel packages removing the dreaded inertia that accompanies vacation planning.  Unfortunately, the digital convenience that has transformed the new age quest for fulfillment tends to encourage financial carelessness.  Travelers are less likely to have done their due diligence to confirm whether their conveniently pre-packaged travel deal is actually the most feasible travel itinerary.  The one-click itineraries preceded by romanticized images and beckoning landscapes triggers us into purchasing trips RIGHT NOW, without confirming the reality of the deliverables (#Fyrefest), believing we will miss out on a “trip of a lifetime”.  In actuality, the location isn’t going anywhere.  It may even be more feasible to postpone the trip until next year to save cash instead of relying on credit. Unless there are life or death circumstances, calendaring #travelgoals for the future allows time to plan for the expense instead of being slapped in the face with a credit card balance upon returning from an impulse excursion.

3. Watch out for the inevitable Instagram-able up-charge

While I believe a little research will prove a travel deal isn’t always a once in a lifetime offer, many trips become “once-in-a-lifetime” upon arrival.  It only makes sense that upon arriving at the destination, we will try to make the trip a once in a lifetime experience…and the destination-based salesman know this.  Smelling the need for authenticity and local immersion, travel salesmen will bring the “excursion” to the young person cloaked as the unique Instagram-able moments that they were searching for.  While in the past credit was less accessible and individuals carried cash for currency exchange, millennials are no longer limited by the currency carried in their wallets.  Now, with credit cards offering travel rewards and waived foreign exchange fees, impulsive authenticity is only limited by Gen Z’s and Y’s imagination and energy level.