There are tonnes of articles online about how well Millennials and Gen Z have adopted freer and more flexible lifestyles than our predecessors. This includes travelling full-time by plane, backpack, van, tent, or RV. I saw all these stats before I got on the road and looked forward to finally meeting more people my age who shared a similar outlook on life.
Yet, after almost a year on the road, I can probably count on one hand how many millennials I encountered. I was friends with one for a month before his horrible hygiene put a damper on things. After I cut him loose, I said to my friends that he was argumentative and complacent, but he was the only person riding the same wave I was and I missed having that, despite not missing him.
Are Millennials Really Adventuring?
During our friendship, I shared with him that I had not met a single millennial on the road. That included him. Even though he was a van-lifer, he was stationary and working a nine-to-five. At first, he tried to hype himself up by pointing out that maybe I wasn’t going to remote and “adventurous” enough locations to run into millennials.
But, the more I spoke to him, the more I realized that the real problem was that most millennials seem to be sticking close to cities — and that included him. They might love to escape to the woods and the mountains and the desert on the weekends, but they are very much in the cities during the week.
“Some of us have to work, y’know?” he said, when I pointed this out. “The cities are where the jobs are. Not all of us have jobs we can do remotely.”
Where Are the Solo Travellers?
Since being on the road, I have encountered so many women travelling or RVing alone. Most of these women are divorced. All of them are much older than I am. I have encountered two solo men while travelling and neither of them are millennials.
Whenever I do encounter millennials on the road, they are married with children, which makes it significantly harder to mesh with them. They are also usually part-time travellers or weekend warriors.
When I pointed this out to the van dweller, he denied that it was true.
“But, you spent your entire eight months of actually mobile van life with your ex-girlfriend. And, now she’s doing van life in Mexico with someone else,” I pointed out.
He thought about that for a moment and shrugged. “That’s true. I guess there aren’t that many of us travelling alone.”
Have I Finally Discovered Loneliness?
A common question people ask me is whether I get lonely as a solo traveller. I wrote an article in June explaining that I’m never lonely on the road — and why that was. To summarize the gist of the article, I’m an only child who lived alone for 10 years before deciding to RV. Alone is my default setting.
So, why am I now so concerned about running into other millennials on the road? The truth is I’m mentally exhausted. I love rural areas and the beauty of wide, open spaces. But, the people who occupy these spaces are mentally taxing. This hit me especially hard in Wyoming, which is why I ultimately left and high-tailed it to Colorado.
From campgrounds to RV parks to boondocking to moochdocking spots … while travelling I have neighbours. People talk to me while I’m checking in, while I’m backing in, while I’m getting gas, while I’m minding my business in Walmart.
I enjoy getting to know other travellers on the road and have met some amazing people. But, the kind of friendship I have with Conservative Gen-Xers and Boomers is never quite like the friendship I have with Liberal Millennials. And I miss that. Terribly.
I rarely run into true liberals who are not millennials. And, even among the millennials, I have met my fair share of homophobic and racist Trump supporters, throwing fits at social gatherings because they spot a transgender who has not even noticed them.
Consequently, I find that I’ve isolated myself yet again. My friends are camping together in the Wyoming mountains and I am alone in Southern Colorado. I needed the break.
I miss millennials. I miss liberals. I wish there were more of us travelling solo and travelling full-time out here. I wish other millennials weren’t so married to city life. One day, I’ll figure out where all the other free and actually mobile libs are hiding. One day.