We Are Changing Travel

We’re spending more on travel than previous generations.

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The way travel is being done is changing thanks to two things; who is traveling and how.

According to an Inc. Travel article written by Yasmin Gagné travel for business is changing thanks to more women and Millennials traveling as well as how they’re spending their money.

Gagné writes how women now make up almost half of all business travel and, while doing so, go about their business a slightly different way from their male counterparts. First, they are usually younger and also tend to value more information about what to do and expect in their destinations.

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Millennials now make up a huge portion of the people who travel as “the most frequent travelers are now just as likely to be under 45 as over.” According to Upside co-founder Jon Ellenthal, by 2020, more than 50 percent of business travelers will be classified as Millennials.

The way that these newer flyers spend their money is also changing the way business travel is being done. Nowadays, people will simply ask their employers for a budget and then they will decide how to spend it, as well as extending their stay so they can have time for some leisure while they’re away. This means that travelers are now more able to personalize their experience while on their trip.

How Travel is Changing Because of Millennials

Millennials are changing the way travel is being done, not just for business, but for travel in general because of our tendency to invest more time and money into travel.

According to an article in The Atlantic written by Amanda Machado, Millennials are investing more in travel and live experiences than in material goods, changing the way people travel.

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Millennials are changing the way international travel is being done because––when we do travel––we tend to invest in longer, more meaningful experiences instead of short bursts of luxury. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on a five star hotels in major cities, our tendency is to invest in roaming in hostels, going to more remote locations, and backpacking.

Our generation is often labeled as a “miserable” and “broke” generation, as well as being “recession battered” and “disillusioned.” Millennials are also made fun of by older generations as being entitled and “discontent” for traveling so much and not putting down roots. However, because house prices keep rising, more often than not Millennials will invest more in traveling and in live experiences.

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With easy access to social media and services like Airbnb, Couchsurfing, Skyscanner, and Lonely Planet message boards, travelers are more connected than ever and able to save more money because of cheaper alternatives.

Machado mentions how she invested in her traveling because it made more sense than saving for a future that was “in no way guaranteed.”

Uncertain Futures

Because we live in uncertain futures, it is all too likely that we’re more willing to save for experiences that we know will benefit us in the immediate future.

We know that traveling will allow us to be exposed to different lifestyles and cultures and therefore be more tolerant, charitable and rational.

Last semester I saw a poster hanging in one of my classrooms. I remember that it sent a message of encouragement to students to study abroad because it may be the only time we would ever get the chance to see a piece of the rest of the world before life came and took away that chance. A grim message, but an all too real one.  

However, I remain hopeful that because we are causing such an impact––not only on the way that travel is being done––but the way that travel is thought of, there will be more of it. For all of us.

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Generation Study Abroad

“The number of TU students studying abroad has increased more than 40 percent”

In this ever shrinking world, there is no doubt that studying abroad gives students an advantage, and it’s no doubt it can be pretty expensive.

It’s also no doubt that being able to get as much financial aid as possible is a priority for most students going abroad, and also the only reason why many are able to go at all.

Most students I talk to––whether they’re friends on campus or friends from different schools such as UMD or Nova Southern University down in Florida––all say more or less the same thing when I tell them I’m studying abroad in Prague this fall.

Most of their remarks fall along the lines of:

“Wow, I can’t believe you’re going for so long!”

“That’s awesome! Do you speak the language?”

However, they almost always lead to remarks about money.

“Good for you! I could never go though, I could never afford it.”

“I would but it costs too much.”

Not surprisingly, in an age when college students are taking out loans just to be in school, a lot of my friends feel like studying abroad is really only available to the “lucky few.”

However, because of schools like Towson University investing time, effort, and money into getting students to participate in studying abroad, less students are feeling that way.

Towson University has partnered with the International Institution of Education (IIE) as part of their Generation Study Abroad Initiative.

The initiative began in 2014 and is an effort to double and diversify the number of U.S. students studying abroad by 2020. Since then, TU has increased more than 40 percent of their students studying abroad, especially those from underrepresented populations.

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Photo from Flickr by Saint Louis University Madrid Campus.

TU also gave out tens of thousands of dollars in grants and hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships. New Scholarships such as the Diversity Study Abroad Scholarship have been created, and one was initiated last year in an effort to get students to study in “priority countries,” which are countries that have relatively new programs or that most U.S. students don’t typically go to.

Towson University, like many other colleges that have partnered with international organizations, see that the benefits from studying abroad don’t just stem from the experiences that come with being abroad, but also the experiences from studying.

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Students in ISC Orientation meeting. Photo from Flickr by Jirka Matousek.

According to a white paper written by the IIE and AIFS, studying abroad proves to would-be employers that graduates have the “in-demand skills” needed in today’s world, making those experiences not only enriching to students as individuals, but also as prospective employees.

According to the University of California Merced, students who studied abroad are twice as likely to find jobs a year after they graduate, 90 percent of IES study abroad alumni got into their first or second choice of graduate school, and 80 percent of AIFS study abroad alumni said that studying abroad contributed to their “ability to adapt in diverse workplace environments.”

However, this isn’t really news. Almost everyone knows that studying abroad can give students an edge in a domestic as well as international workplace. What is newsworthy is how many students are able to study abroad.

U.S. students studying abroad grew 3.8 percent in 2016, and the number of them studying abroad has more than doubled in the last 15 years.

Those who suffer from wanderlust recognize that studying abroad––though it may initially come with a bill––gives us invaluable experiences; ones that open doors and widen horizons that normally don’t come with a price tag.

With more institutions seeing the value in those experiences for their students, there is more hope than ever that this can be the Generation Study Abroad.

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Photo from Flickr by Zach Discher.

Traveling With Social Anxiety

“If the thought of traveling all by yourself unnerves you, if you have a slight fear of public spaces or if you dread meeting new people, then there’s a high possibility that you are socially anxious.”

For most people, traveling brings a sense of adventure and new discoveries, but for people with social anxiety, travel can seem like something beyond their reach.

In an article in Outlook Traveler, Priyam Bagga outlines the best practices for those who deal with social anxiety in order to still be able to enjoy traveling.

What is Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety disorder (SAD), also called social phobia, is an intense anxiety of being judged or rejected in a social setting. For those with social anxiety, social interactions––or as said in the article––the mere thought of social interactions can make that person extremely uncomfortable.

Though it’s a chronic mental health condition, many of these people are viewed as just being “awkward” or “weird” and can have an extremely difficult time opening up to people, making travel extremely stressful.

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Social anxiety affects about 15 million adults in the U.S. and is the second most commonly diagnosed anxiety disorder and can be accompanied by very real symptoms such as a rapid heart rate, sweating, nausea and panic attacks. For these people, it can be hard to imagine being somewhere completely foreign and having to deal with the stresses that come with travel that can make even the most well-adjusted people want to punch a wall.

Millennials and Social Anxiety

Though Millennials are seen as being one of the more “entitled” or “narcissistic” generations, we are also one of the most miserable.

Almost 40 percent of Millennials say their stress is increasing––even causing sleep problems in more than half of them, perhaps explaining why we hear the phrase “I’m so tired” being said so many times a day by people as young as 18.

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Women are also having burnout rates much higher than men, though it isn’t because of having children, it’s believed to be because of the huge amount of pressure women face to “stay connected” by companies.

The Instagram Lifestyle

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Because we live in the age of social media, it’s harder and harder for us to stay disconnected and we can feel immense pressure to conform to a certain standard or have a certain lifestyle that is able to be presented in an “Instagram-worthy” way whether it’s being a glamorous globetrotting trendsetter or a an expert selfie-taker.

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This can be especially difficult for those who suffer from social anxiety because it can be even harder to cope with the idea of being “perfectly presentable” à la social media and having to deal with crippling anxiety.

What to Do About It?

In the article, Bagga outlines important steps to take in order for those who do suffer from social anxiety to be able to explore the world in a way that still allows them to be comfortable.

  • It’s important to plan your trip.

I have several friends and a family member who suffer from a form of social anxiety or anxiety and whenever we get ready to travel together, we would always plan out our trip––even if it was just going out for the night.

By knowing what to expect, it makes those who suffer from SAD know more or less what to expect and allow them to feel less nervous and stressed out, and gives them more time to get comfortable and enjoy where they are.

  • Traveling with friends is incredible, but even more so when you have social anxiety.

When my family member with anxiety and I travel, we usually go everywhere together and, not only does it make it more fun because we have someone to laugh and joke with, it also allows us to give each other confidence and it allows her to do things or meet people she might not if she were by herself. Traveling together makes it fun, but it also gives her the confidence to be able to do things––including travel––on her own.

There are more tips included in the article for those who have social anxiety, including distracting yourself if you’re traveling “solo” and taking a day to unpack and refocus when you come back from your trip, but the important thing to remember is that traveling doesn’t have to be stress-filled and scary––even for those with social anxiety.

For those with social anxiety, traveling and being in a foreign country and culture can be harder than for those who don’t have it, but it is not impossible to get the hang of things just the same.  

How Sustainable Travel Can Actually Help Save the World

Traveling can go a long way in terms of helping the community.

In the New York Times article, Sustainable Travel: It’s Not Just About the Environment, Elaine Glusac offers introspection into several programs and nonprofit organizations that are doing more in terms of “sustainable travel.”

What is Sustainable Travel

The World Tourism Organization defines sustainable travel as tourism that takes into full account “current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.”

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In short, sustainable travel or sustainable tourism is not the same as eco-tourism. Sustainable travel deals with, not only the effect travel has on the environment, but on the host community as well.

In order to make travel sustainable there needs to be money going back into the community. According to the WTO, tourism is one of the strongest ways to help alleviate poverty and is one of the biggest drivers of trade prosperity.

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Millennials Help Redefine Luxury With Sustainable Travel

Sustainable travel, or “responsible travel” has also been on the rise, especially with millenials. According to an article from Luxury Daily, upscale, luxury travel is being geared towards being more sustainable or “responsible.”

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As millenials have more disposable income, trends show that we are more likely to consider “authentic” places and experiences as “the new luxury.” Our generation is helping change the perception of what is considered luxurious as we put more emphasis on clean, natural areas and genuine cultural experiences that involve getting to know the local population.

This is also apparent by the rise in the “hipster” trend. This trend involves our generation taking a deep interest in all things “authentic” from locally sourced food, thrift shopping, and even technology, as seen by the rise in vinyl records being bought by young adults. Unsurprisingly, millennials are leading the practice of seeking sustainable travel options because of the desire for more unique, eco-friendly, and even animal-friendly experiences.   

Companies and Nonprofits You Should Pay Attention To

In the article, Glusac lists several companies that participate in sustainable travel practices by either having specific programs that help the local community in the host country (usually in developing countries) or who give part or all of their profits from fees to charities and local causes.

Such examples include Giving Way, which links volunteers to nongovernmental organizations, &Beyond which leads philanthropic-focused tours in Africa and South America, and even AirBnB who has added social impact programs that are led by leaders of local nonprofits to support local causes.

In addition to more and more customers trying to create more positive impacts when traveling, many hotels are doing more to use sustainable practices such as locally sourcing their food and using more green energy.

A Little Goes A Long Way

Practicing small yet sustainable actions while traveling can go a long way in terms of helping the community.

Even by eating at locally owned restaurants can mean putting money back in the community, which is at the center of sustainable travel. By engaging with the local community, money is able to circulate and help the local economy.

In my own experience, buying from local and native-owned businesses in Mexico helps the local population because it is giving back to the community that would otherwise be dwarfed by big businesses. When my family and I vacation in Mexico, we try to help out the local community by buying clothing, accessories, or art from the local, native artisans from tribes such as the Huichol, Maya, or Chiapa.

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By supporting local communities in small ways, we help these people provide for themselves and their families and help protect the local culture.

Andi of South Africa: Resident globetrotter and scholarship winner

“By you flying that’s not gonna make them drop.”

I sat down with Andrea McIver and discussed the benefits of taking a gap year, the nature of culture shock, and life in and out of Durban over coffee.

 

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“Be kind,” Andi says, “Kindness is so important.” (Photo by Andrea Durán)

It’s a cloudy, chilly day in April when Andi McIver invites me over to her apartment in West Village. It’s 1 p.m. and neither of us has had anything to eat.  Ever the gracious host, the first thing she does after she signs me in is offer me some coffee and greek yogurt. It’s all she has to offer, but even so she offers to spice it up with some cinnamon and chia seeds. It’s delicious and neither of us is strong enough to handle coffee without a little creamer or half and half.

Andi is a Mass Communications major with a track in Public Relations and minors in English and Political Science. She also happens to be the recipient of the Elizabeth Waino Memorial Scholarship and the semester before that, she won the Patrick J. O’Connell Memorial for most promising Mass Communications student.

Continue reading “Andi of South Africa: Resident globetrotter and scholarship winner”

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me! My name is Andrea and what we’re here to suffer from wanderlust. Just kidding! Hopefully learning about the stories of others from different parts of the world right here at Towson, as well as developing news about inspires you to branch out, talk to new people, and get out there!

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” -Mark Twain

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