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Inside the mind of the experience-hungry globetrotting generation

Passport stamps are so passé. So says Lia Rivera, our resident globetrotting millennial, who reveals why her generation travels – and in turn, buys – like no other.

They used to be badges of honour – proof that we’d been to far-flung destinations in every corner of the globe. But the sad truth is that passport stamps don’t matter anymore. They’ve been usurped by Snapchat’s Geofilters.  

So says Boston University student Lia Rivera, who’s taking some time away from her communications degree by working at Stylus in London and travelling around Europe. And as a fully paid-up member of the globetrotting generation, she’s got some interesting ideas on why she and her experience-minded friends travel – and in turn, buy – like they do.

Experiences as memories

“I appreciate experiences and opportunities that give my life more value. One of the advantages of studying abroad in London for a semester is having my pick of European countries to travel to. Seeing as many as possible in 15 weeks is a challenge I gladly accepted.

“Anything I can do to capture my experiences and remember them forever is crucial. So before embarking on this adventure, I began creating short videos that highlight the best moments from trips with family and friends.

“Social media is obviously hugely important. I’ll only post content I think is Instagram-worthy – and that means something that isn’t easily recreated. I also love Snapchat while I’m travelling, and especially Geofilters. For me, these are the social media equivalent of passport stamps.

“I consider myself a globetrotter, and Geofilters are proof that I am one. I do, however, aspire to be a better one – something that can be helped by forward-thinking airlines and travel disruptors like Airbnb.”

Why I buy like I do

“Travelling on a college student budget isn’t necessarily the easiest task. So when I see that I can share a code with someone on Airbnb, and we both get a discount, that’s pretty awesome.

“Discounts affect my purchasing decisions. Suddenly I have two options: I can take the economical route and use the discount to save money, or I can take the luxury route and use it for something I normally can’t afford.

“Cherishing experiences, for me, is the biggest factor when spending (and saving) money. Earlier on this semester, I noticed Ryanair flights to Italy for £19.99. Friends who have previously done the program told me not to take Ryanair, but I booked the flights anyway. I knew it probably wasn’t the best decision, but I couldn’t pass on a $30 flight to Italy – I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself. As it turned out, the flight was absolutely fine.

“Once I touched down in Rome, my spending mentality automatically switched. I wanted to have the best mini vacation I could – eating gelato, taking a gondola ride in Venice, buying a leather bag in Florence. My spending choices also influence my social media posts – every meal I had and every place I visited, I posted on social media.”

Seeking authenticity 

“With travel comes culture shock and that’s exciting to me. Suddenly, I am in a place immersed in history. This adds value to my travel experience and, in turn, influences the purchases I make.

“I look for experiences that are culturally specific to locations, which means my mentality alters from affordable experiences to true ones. When I travel, I want to come across family-owned shops or small cafes hidden from other people.

“I don’t just want to feel like a tourist; I want to leave a place knowing that I had a different experience from the average person. What Google and other travel sites recommend aren’t necessarily the most authentic experience. What’s better is when you touch down a local gives you advice on where to go.”