I Miss Millennials. Why Aren’t There More of Us Travelling Solo Out Here?

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.

33 thoughts on “I Miss Millennials. Why Aren’t There More of Us Travelling Solo Out Here?

  1. There’s just something about solo travel. I will try and be more open next time I travel, knowing that some people might want to connect or chat. I hope you’ll meet more millennial-aged people on your travels.

    1. Thank you, Sara! Solo travel is amazing for sure. But once you’ve been on the road full-time, you definitely start wondering where all the other full-time youngins are. There are so many retirees, but the digital nomads are a lot harder to find. Happy travels!

      1. You know, people said the same about Cali and Colorado but I never saw those people at camp. Only the old retirees. Traveling solo on the road taught me how fake travel blogs and Instagram posts in the US are, haha! There’s just no way I’ve been out here full-time and can still count on one hand how many times I’ve run into other millennials traveling full-time.

        The big problem in the US is that most of these people tend to stay in the cities and I typically don’t. They make all these Instagram posts about connecting with nature and blah blah blah, but the truth is that they’re in the cities all week and then head up to the parks and campgrounds on the weekends….like everyone else. Their vans are just mobile studio apartments in the city with wheels for weekend escapes.

        There are a few exceptions, but they (or we!) are few and far between. Nevertheless, my search continues. 🧐

        I might drive up the Pacific Northwest this summer. It’s on my list of possibilities. If I do, I’m definitely crossing the border to see Vancouver and the likes of West Canada. Thanks for the suggestion!

      2. Yes I see what you mean. I haven’t personally lived the van life, but I would always go to nature on my weekends away from the city. I’ve spoken to a few people who did the travel van life, but you make a good point that they do tend to stay in the cities.

      3. Escaping on the weekends is a must! But, what I find amusing is having a home on wheels and choosing to ONLY be in nature on the weekends, haha. That’s crazy to me. I’m currently in a beach town (Ensenada) to find the other millennials, and I have, but so far, only here. 😂

        I’m hoping I’ll have even better luck in Spain, which will be another beach town. 🤔

        What recommendations do you have for West Canada?

      4. To be fair I’d often go into nature on my work days too when it wasn’t too dark or my schedule allowed. It’s too long to wait 5 days between nature visits.
        That’s really cool you stay in beach towns – you’d get such a peaceful vibe there.
        Spain would be lovely I’m sure!
        Tofino, BC is an amazing beach town and surfer’s paradise. It’s also close to a lot of nature. There’s no cities for hours. Also, Nelson, BC might be right up your alley, too. 🙂

  2. Although I’m not a millenial, but rather a Gen Z, I can say that I’ve never heard of, nor seen millenials do what you do. I remember speaking about you to a friend (I talk about you time to time, to show-off how cool and awesome you are, to my boring friends 🤣) and he said he’d undertake similar ventures, but when he’s at the age of retirement. As your city-dwelling friend said, people do indeed gotta work.

    Unfortunately, not many jobs can be done remotely, muchless REMOTE REMOTE; cuz miss girl, you and wifi be scrappin’ daily! 😂

    You’ve inspired to me plan some trips to see that side of the US sometime in the future, perhaps next year, God’s willing, idk. Hopefully the career paths that I’m looking towards, will facilitate lengthy trips like that further down the line.

    After all, nuff life deh deh fi live! So why live it smothered in concrete? 😁

  3. It is so easy to feel isolated as a liberal. Have you tried political or social justice action groups? Just a thought.

    1. It really is, especially in rural America where they are not used to differences of opinion. It’s scary how much everyone in Wyoming sounds the same. I’ve never been to a blue state where liberals just spew the same opinions, but conservatives are very much unified in their beliefs with very few exceptions. And the exceptions stay quiet.

      I haven’t thought of joining any social justice groups because I’m never in any one place for very long. Maybe I’ll find something online.

  4. You could call your write-ups ” search ing for the solo millennial”. And I won’t even take credit for you using that title or anything close to it or charge you anything for it it’s yours. Lol

    1. 🤣🤣🤣 Maybe that’s exactly what I need to do. I’ll write letters to my future millennial solo traveling friends.

  5. according to wikipedia…..” This generation is generally marked by elevated usage of and familiarity with the Internet, mobile devices, and social media,[14] which is why they are sometimes termed digital natives. Millennials across the world have suffered significant economic disruption since starting their working lives; many faced high levels of youth unemployment during their early years in the labour market in the wake of the Great Recession, and suffered another recession a decade later due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” ” Among older millennials, those born 1981–1988, Pew Research found that 43% personally identified as members of the older demographic cohort, Generation X, while only 35% identified as millennials. Among younger millennials (born 1989–1997), generational identity was not much stronger, with only 45% personally identifying as millennials. It was also found that millennials chose most often to define themselves with more negative terms such as self-absorbed, wasteful, or greedy.” “In fact, millennials have benefited the least from the economic recovery following the Great Recession, as average incomes for this generation have fallen at twice the general adult population’s total drop and are likely to be on a path toward lower incomes for at least another decade ” “Despite the availability of affordable housing, and broadband Internet, the possibility of telecommuting, the reality of high student loan debts and the stereotype of living in their parents’ basement, millennials were steadily leaving rural counties for urban areas for lifestyle and economic reasons in the early 2010s.[242] At that time, millennials were responsible for the so-called “back-to-the-city” trend.[243] Between 2000 and 2010, the number of Americans living in urban areas grew from 79% to 81% while that in rural areas dropped from 21% to 19%. At the same time, many new cities were born, especially in the Midwest, and others, such as Charlotte, North Carolina, and Austin, Texas, were growing enormously.[244] According to demographer William Frey of the Brookings Institution, the population of young adults (18–34 years of age) in U.S. urban cores increased 5% between 2010 and 2015, the bulk of which can be attributed to ethnic-minority millennials. In fact, this demographic trend was making American cities and their established suburbs more ethnically diverse. ”

    So, why there not more millennials not out and about like you? It is as diverse as they are. I guess it mostly comes down to $$$. Large student debt which means they need to work and there are only so many distance type of jobs available. They seem to be the “internet/electronic” group and may just not be THAT interested in solo travel as they can live in a place where they can have their comfort and the internet. Are they out there? yes! just few and far between, from what i can find out and you already know why “boomers” are out there. I guess y9ou are much like Data and Odo. Looking for others like you in a vast space and time. I would say, dont fret so much and enjoy the people you find who are enjoying the life you are living. no matter what generation they are in. but i think your feelings would make for a good write in a book or a continuing op/ed in some sort of reader.

    1. I think the part of the data you shared that best sums it up is where it says that despite all the current opportunities in rural areas, millennials prefer an urban lifestyle…just because.

      Sometimes I tire of “educating” people or debating with them. Some days I just want to be around people who “get it” and who don’t need asterisks and explanations. It’s especially exhausting as a person of colour and as a woman, because those are 2 additional things for me to “explain” or “educate” conservatives on.

      I’m not sure I currently have enough in my head for an op-ed or a book. But I’m sure I will in good time. It’s really weighing on my mind, these days…..

  6. There could be a variety of reasons why we aren’t RVing or living remotely. You mentioned many reasons in your post. Also, we are still in a pandemic and people may be afraid to travel.

    1. In a pandemic, I would assume it would be safer to be in rural areas instead of the city. The millennials are still living in their vans and RVs. Why not park it outside of crowded areas if transmission rates are the concern? That’s the top reason I don’t go to the cities, so that seems strange to me. Totally possible, but strange.

  7. I think there are several reasons as to why millennials are traveling less: 1) as you mentioned, we have work and family to take care of, as many of us are now in our mid-twenties to late thirties, 2) as many of us are liberals, we’re still following protocols to stay masked and at home, or at least stick within our friend groups/hometown hangouts, and 3) we’re broke af, haha. Personally, I have a 9-5 office job that keeps me from going anywhere far; I only have the weekends free, but even then, I use it to do chores and perhaps go somewhere within my city for a hike or lunch. It’s been ages since I’ve traveled– solo or with people– as I’m still taking precautions with COVID-19 (and the Delta variant), but I still intend to go out of state and hopefully this fall!

    1. Honestly, I haven’t really met many millennials who are taking the virus seriously. Not even the liberals. That was the hygiene issue with the van dweller. Granted, he’s a severe case, but he works with other millennials, and they didn’t sound that different.

      Since the pandemic, also, a lot of jobs have gone remote and many will remain remote. So it’s strange to me that remaining in the city is still THE way to make money.

    1. Hmmm ….that could be. But with the pandemic, and even before then, so many jobs can be done remotely these days that I don’t think remote work is the obstacle. Single millennials have always flocked to the cities, families to the suburbs and old people to rural areas. But I’m the anomaly looking for the others. There has to be more of us out here, but….maybe they don’t want to be found.

      1. Perhaps.
        I think different factors contribute to not many people in that demographic group undertaking the risky adventure of solo travelling.
        For one, it’s not easy to obtain stable employment with remote work. One could work independently, as you do, but it’s not easy.
        Also, if one is used to city life, being in close continuous contact with others, getting in a solitary setting for most of the time can be daunting.
        For young women, there might be a further factor of being concerned for their safety. Sadly, it is a real thing that women are the largest share of victims – not that I agree this should stop us from doing our own things.
        Also, our society gears us towards a “stable” life – however we define it. It takes courage to step off the beaten path.
        Making significant changes to one’s lifestyle takes courage, requiring to go through a process that might be unsettling and challenging.
        For right or wrong, these things play a part in people decision on how to live.
        I’m not saying that this should stop one from making changes, just that changing is not easy.

      2. These are all true. However, I’m not referring to everyday millennials. I’m specifically asking why millennials who have already given up the rat race and rejected social norms can’t seem to leave the cities.

        I think these are great explanations for why typical millennials don’t venture out more, but I don’t think it answers (for me) why so-called adventurous millennials are only adventuring on Instagram and in the cities.

        Maybe they haven’t actually rejected any of society’s ideals. A van is just a cheaper apartment than what they can afford to rent or buy in the city.

      3. Your last point is quite an interesting aspect – one that could be reconciled with why they would only be adventuring on IG and in the cities. It wouldn’t be much of a rejection, more a positioning oneself within the societal norms.

      4. I’ve spoken to a few more millennial travelers over the past week and we’ve come to the conclusion that that last paragraph pretty much sums up most of the millennial van lifers, i.e. they’re just weekend warriors living in vans because traditional city homes are too expensive. I think I’ve met 2 more that are actually out here taking the risk and living a full nomadic life.

  8. I think many take the view that they will work to save up a nest egg so they can then go travelling without the worry of having to earn a living. They then get tied into family life, raising kids, and climbing corporate ladders, and suddenly realise that the years have overtaken them and they missed the boat! However, I could be wrong and they could be around the next bend for you to meet up!

    1. You just described that van dweller point for point. I told him life is short, and the future he’s saving for is not promised.

Chat to me nuh!

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