Why You Shouldn't Feel Guilty About Draining Your Savings To Travel

by Sarah Madaus
michela ravasio

Wanderlust is the strong, innate desire to rove or travel about.

For Millennials, wanderlust seems to be confined to a board on Pinterest, a retweet from an account called something like Happy Travel Vibes or all of one's "liked" homes and hostels on Airbnb. We read novels like Cheryl Strayed's "Wild," and watch television shows like "Tiny House Nation."

Our imagination explodes with dreams of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and living on $5 per day. But the sad truth for many of us is, the photos that we pin, retweet and "like," the documentaries we watch and the books we read will probably never become our reality. The technology-saturated, money-hungry, success-obsessed society we live in makes it nearly impossible to feel like traveling is part of an "acceptable" life.

So, we stick to what we know, which is going to school until we receive our master's degrees – because a bachelor's degree is now the equivalent of what a high school diploma was 15 years ago – and getting a desk job at a company that (if you're lucky) has some benefits.

It's not all bad. It's actually pretty comfortable.

That is, until we realize the electricity, water, cable, insurance, car and student loan bills that are sitting on our countertops at home. We accumulate so much debt and pay so many expenses, any kind of vacation makes us feel guilty.

But we shouldn't feel guilty about traveling. It's something humans are meant to do. It's instinctual.

We have feet for a reason. You've probably seen the quote, “If we were meant to stay in one place, we'd have roots instead of feet” tattooed on someone, or even on Instagram.

I'm not here to judge my generation. I, too, am a social media person. I'm a success and technology-obsessed Millennial. I'm just saying we need to actually take that quote to heart.

The guilt we feel for taking a week – or even a lifetime – off from work is because of our societal norms. But we are Millennials, and we have the power to change those societal norms.

The money we make, the notoriety we gain in the workplace and the number of material possessions we procure throughout our lives measure our earthly successes. But when we die – which at this point, is still inevitable – all of that earthly stuff has no meaning. Whether you believe in a higher power or not, you still can't take your things with you, no matter where you go after death.

Maybe this is radical of me to say – and probably hypocritical since I'm more than likely going to end up in a cubicle – but life should be about the relationships we make and the places we see.

It should be about the people we serve, the good deeds we do out of the kindness of our hearts and the conversations we have with the ones we love. It's being able to see the sun rise over the Grand Canyon, and doing a pose in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, pretending like you're holding it up.

It's about the children you meet when you serve meals to refugees. It's about the vibrant colors of India and the architecture of Santorini. It's the raw emotion you feel when your heart is broken, and the hug from your best friend when he or she comforts you and tells you, "He was a piece of sh*t anyway."

I urge you, fellow Millennials, to evaluate your life. Are you happy? Would you have any regrets if you died this instant? Did you suppress any dreams when you took your job?

Yes, the answers to these questions could lead you to an existential crisis. But existential crises are necessary sometimes.

If you're not comfortable with dropping everything and moving off the grid into a 200-square-foot, tiny house, then don't. Pay your bills, get promoted, post on Instagram and decorate your home with cute knick-knacks. But please remember that the ultimate goal of life should not be centered around those things.

Cherish the people in your life. Make it your goal to live a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle. For God's sake, put your phone down for two seconds. Material pleasures are meant to complement your life, not complete it.