Oct 16th, 2015, 11:10 AM

#Wanderlust is Trending

By Danielle Seyler
(Photo: Fast Company)
There's a big difference between a trip and traveling.

Few things are inherently authentic today, few emotions are felt without being posted and shared. We are consumed by sharing. We lie on a tropical beach drinking cocktails and working on our tans, hashtagging #wanderlust in our sandy beach butt posts. And if the photo is not recognized by our peers, it's somehow less gratifying.
It's more important that others know we are doing something spontaneous or adventurous than actually doing it. As we blur the lines between authentic and represented experience, marketers are figuring out a way to sell our share culture. As with food, coffee, tattoos, music, the travel trend puts dollars signs in their eyes. Travel is another precious hobby that can be monetized. And the self-proclaimed “wanderlusters” are eating it up. 

Stores like Urban Outfitters have created a brand out of travel. and we devour it. We spend money on things that will bring us a sense of wanderlust, but what we purchase are not plane tickets. We buy art with inspirational quotes, get stick and poke tattoos of compasses, and t-shirts with maps on them. Companies sell products that get you in the mood to travel, without actually going anywhere. Buzzfeed describes the "8 signs you have wanderlust" and the 23 temporary tattoos you can get to “awaken your wanderlust”, or even ”27 travel accessories to help cure your wanderlust”.

(Photo: Huffington Post)

But there's a big difference between a trip and travel, between vacation and exploration. Wanderlust means “a strong urge or desire to travel”. It does not mean a vacation you take when you are fed up with your job and your friends and your routine and need to get away from it all. An urge by definition is an impulse, something hard to control. There is an aspect of wanderlust that presents itself as discontent.
The true travelers I have encountered pick up from one incredible place and head to another, constantly searching for fulfillment. They are most satisfied on a flight to a new country or continent. It's an itch that is never scratched. These vagabonds are the true travelers, the real wanderlusters. For hardcore travelers like Ben Saunders, traveling is everything, the “meat of life”. And I would venture to guess that he never hashtags #wanderlust in his tweets from Antarctica.

Ben Saunders: Why bother leaving the house?

True travelers do not need 23 tattoos or 27 accessories. They are already in a hostel somewhere in Asia or working on a farm in Europe. Companies like those mentioned have turned an emotional, personal experience to something that can be bought to encase your iPhone. 
If you ask any true traveler about an experience in a foreign country, my guess is they will tell you about the people they met. The satisfaction of exploring doesn’t come simply from being out in the world, and it certainly doesn’t come from owning a wanderlust shower curtain. It comes from the exchanges you have with people that open your eyes to a new way of thinking or experiencing. It comes from ending up somewhere you didn’t plan on.
Next time you find an authentic little corner of a city, or are fascinated by the work in a museum, keep it for yourself. Don’t take a photo to share with your hundreds of followers. Put the phone down, and say hello to the security guard. Ask the waitress how her day is, ask the barista about the coffee. Give people a chance to provide you with true authenticity and experiences.
In a time where travel is trending, and not all those wanderlusters are travelers, “not all those who wander are lost”.