The Wanderlust Delusion

 I  see why you like this video camera so much… It’s not quite reality. It’s totally like filtered reality. It’s like you can pretend everything’s not quite the way it is. – The Blair Witch Project (1999)

What is Wanderlust? Wanderlust is defined as a strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world. It comes from the German words wandern (to hike or roam) and Lust (desire). The compound word is Wanderlust and it fast became a neologism. It was one of the widest trending hashtags of 2015. Wanderlust is a term for a popular travel and tourism campaign which began circulating around 2012. It targets millennials living in Western civilisation. Wanderlust is a mentality. Wanderlust is a philosophy. The philosophy to quit your job, buy a back pack and fly to SE Asia with your passport and an Urban Outfitters travel diary.


Wanderlust is an illusion. Outside of Instagram, real people do not wake up every day looking like a million dollars, chillaxing by the pool while restoring faith in humanity. They encounter language barriers, cultural differences, tax queries, visa issues, residential and financial woes and a lot of sunburn.



An example of someone invested in this philosophy is Terrie McEvoy. McEvoy is an Irish expatriate living in Australia. Apart from working as a nurse, she works as a jewellery vendor most of all, digital influencer. With an Instagram account boasting over 50,000 followers, McEvoy gives her followers a glimpse into her glamorous lifestyle of partying, jet planes, beaches and bikini bodies. This is no crime. Thousands of Instagram sport this theme. It is by no means unique to McEvoy.



So why write this article? Well, this aforementioned media is indicative of the ideological wanderlust lifestyle which guarantees happiness, luxury, life skills and a tan.  The glamour of potential is blinding. What we don’t see are the months of waiting for visas, queues at immigration, social security numbers, travel and health insurance, renting properties. As a linguist and traveler photos like these irk me. They are posed for, doctored and filtered. They are not real.



Australia is a popular destination for Irish nurses, a career that McEvoy has attained in Australia. We see the job benefits. We do not hear about long shifts, patient disimpaction, bullying amongst nurses and a never ending supply of sputum. Nursing as a practice should not be sugar coated. Nurses who are passionate about their work will not shy away from these details.



Authentic Travelers vs Wanderlust Travelers

Authentic travelers are usually the ones to get ‘down and dirty’. Often associated with solo traveling and backpacking, authentic travelers travel to expand their cultural lens and to see the world as others see it. They will generally opt authentic living arrangements such as host family, house minding or hostel hopping.

Wanderlust travelers take on adventures that are a guise for extended holidays. Destinations such as Thailand, Bali and Mexico are common places where this exists. Such travelers maintain an ethnocentric and parochialist view on their travels. They are the first to upload #PicOfTheDay to Instagram. Reactionary followers are encouraged by influencers such as McEvoy to pursue their dreams. Sometimes they are persuaded to quit their jobs, travel thousands of miles away and visit numerous resorts by these stunning photographs and the beautiful Terrie McEvoy. But for the rest of us, leaving on a jet plane ain’t gonna solve our problems.

Having spent two years of my life living away from home, I have encountered two types of travelers. Authentic travelers and the Wanderlust travelers. Collectively, fifteen months of my life have been spent abroad in countries where English was not the spoken language. For each trip I have carried  only €200 cash going over. 2/3 times I stayed with foreign host families. I also attended university and worked as an au pair. I speak four languages. Such is the benefit of travel. Such experiences cannot be compared to riding elephants in Thailand or stalking sea turtles at a 9800 baht scuba course‎. The general message once stripped down is; quit your job, fly to Asia, peer at animals in captivity and most importantly – get a tan.

Wanderlust adventures are mimicked time and time again. There is nothing original or unique about the 21st Century Illusion that is Wanderlust. Wanderlust? More like wonderland.



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