Wanderlust is defined as “a strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world.”
The term has also become a popular blog name, Instagram handle, and hashtag.
It’s a trend, something that’s easy to Instagram the second you book your all-inclusive trip to Mexico and order a bikini online. It’s poolside pictures, drinks with little umbrellas, and EDM concerts by the beach. The entire term is suddenly able to be captured in an Instagram post.
When you look at it from a wider perspective, the term wanderlust has slowly lost its meaning. Its value is nearly gone. If you look at it with a different lens, you’ll likely realize that your week by the pool in your designer bikini wasn’t wanderlust…it was a vacation.
Now there’s nothing wrong with a vacation. Everyone needs some downtime with sweet drinks, buffets, massages, and room service. But there has to be an understanding that vacationing and wanderlust are not the same thing. They are two things that should be equally as cherished, but they are not the same thing.
Wanderlust encompasses adventure, exploration, immersion, and culture. When you truly travel with that mindset, you’re looking for far more out of a trip than impressive tan lines. You’re looking to fully immerse yourself in another culture, a different language, new traditions, interesting foods, and local people.
You’ll find yourself in hostels full of interesting people, dive bars with hilarious locals, and streets far from the tourist traps. You’re not sticking to the maps, you’re wandering off them. You’ll explore every end of a city, just because a local told you they had the best breakfast in town or because you had to visit their grandma’s bakery.
Travel is about the experience and seeing new things, just as much as it is about effort. You don’t expect everyone to know English because you’re in a foreign country. You put effort into learning the language, communicating with the locals, and leaving a positive impression. They’ve welcomed you into their country, so you’re doing your best to leave them with a positive idea of yours.
It’s about culture and trying new things. Maybe you’re nervous about the local delicacy, but you’re there and you’re ready to try it. It might turn out to be the best thing you’ve ever tasted. When you’re in a different country you are there to experience their culture – not see what spin on an American dish the hotel is doing that night.
Travel is about adventure. Spontaneity. Taking risks. You’re not looking for an all-inclusive resort because no one from the country actually lives there. You want to see it all, from hikes to using public transit, riding bikes, and hitchhiking. Maybe you rent a van and drive, or maybe you walk everywhere. Regardless, you’re not stuck to one resort; the entire country is your playground.
Wanderlust is a word that many people hold close to their heart. It represents something bigger, something more, something adventurous. It means going somewhere new and coming back with a completely different perspective, different headspace, different ideas. It’s something you can’t find on a resort or at the bottom of your margarita.
So while vacationing and travel are both important, both magical, and both impressive… wanderlust should be reserved for those who are truly wandering, traveling, and exploring the world – off the beaten path, with an open heart, and a new culture at the center of it all.