Why You Shouldn’t Say Wanderlust

Nowadays, it feels as if everyone you meet has self-proclaimed wanderlust. Wanderlust is the strong desire to travel. However, as the term has become mainstream, it has begun to lose its original meaning. The most reputable source for college colloquialisms, Urban Dictionary, now defines wanderlust as “a word used by pumpkin spiced drinking white girls…usually used in a hashtag, accompanied by a scenic photograph.” In its popularity, wanderlust has become less about travel and more about a state of mind instead of a state of action.

It’s an excuse to daydream instead of taking action

Wanderlust is just a word that looks pretty in calligraphy over a mountain scenery. It’s a word that shows up on inspirational quotes by anonymous users on Pinterest and Tumblr. Posting an image or tweet with “wanderlust” plastered all over the place does not mean you’re actually going to get up off the couch and start traveling. It’s a way to watch everyone else have fun.


It over idealizes travel

When hashtagging a pretty picture with #wanderlust, most people aren’t taking other factors into consideration. It doesn’t encompass the long flights, the hours of butt-numbing road travel, the grit of actual camping or the exhaustion of it all. Don’t get me wrong, I love traveling because of all these grimy details–it is part of the thrill–but wanderlust excludes the exhaustive background.


Small adventures become insufficient

The age of social media is slowly killing us. Just kidding, but it is harming our happiness. We see these extravagant photos of people we think of as being #travelgoals, while not taking into consideration what struggles those people had to go through or the mishaps that occurred en route to their destination. This picture-perfect idea of travel makes you feel like your daily excitements aren’t worth enough. Those surprise weekend road trips or that quick decision to eat the entire Thurmanator in German Village suddenly pales in comparison.



It implies a fleeting love of adventure

The word lust implies a head-over-heels, just-for-one-moment kind of love. It’s quick and not meant to last. You amp up the idea of your trip, you go on this massive trip and, suddenly, you are fine. Wanderlust satiated. Why not have a long lasting relationship with adventure? Keep it spicy and mix it up throughout the days, months and years. Find ways to create adventure any time you can. You don’t want to become that person who says “I’m too old for that.” There’s always a way to find excitement and adventure in your life.


It’s overused

You know you’ve heard this before. You stare at a computer screen daydreaming of effortless travel, dirt-free outdoors and newly made friends surrounding you on a foreign beach. No one can blame you for having a happy place, but using the word “wanderlust” is basic. You’ve seen it on every sorority girl’s Instagram and it’s on half of your friends’ twitter bios. But do they really end up turning their daydreams into reality?


Stop dreaming about it—do it

“Wanderlust” paints an inaccurate picture of traveling, and might label you as basic. But if you keep adventure in your life, embrace the rough patches and stay tough, then you can rise above that basic label and find your own fun adventures. If a 67-year-old woman in the 1950s can hike the Appalachian Trail three times, then you can go beyond daydreaming and basic wanderlust, too. Stop making excuses for yourself and go out there and do it.



**This story was originally written by Cat Dismukes for The Tab Ohio State

14 thoughts on “Why You Shouldn’t Say Wanderlust

  1. Louise Brady February 18, 2017 / 1:34 am

    100% agree


  2. Michael - The Boys Abroad October 20, 2017 / 12:00 am

    This is all too accurate! It’s up there with #TravelGoals for me. Neither really mean much and don’t imply actually travelling at all…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. California Globetrotter October 20, 2017 / 2:38 am

    Very interesting read! I do agree it is overused and I giggled at your stereotypical description of people who use it!… Hi 🙂 haha jk Although when I use it, I really do travel and spend hours getting to where I want to go and not all trips look as wonderful in the picture and the difficulties behind the picture in order to experience such a wonderful trip! #feetdotravel

    Liked by 1 person

    • catdismukes October 20, 2017 / 1:27 pm

      I still love people who use wanderlust!! haha just thought I’d write about a different perspective on it that we don’t talk about as much. I love your travels 😍

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ruth October 20, 2017 / 8:05 pm

    First, I cannot believe that is the definition for wanderlust in the Urban Dictionary. They nailed it! A lot of what you say touches me because it is related to the way I travel and the reason behind that love. People tend to use some words with beautiful meanings and convert them in a word used in vain. It is sad if you think about it. Agree a lot of people are focused on popular places and forget to start exploring right away, close to where they live. Thanks for the interesting read. #feetdotravel

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Travel Lexx October 23, 2017 / 1:37 pm

    Well said – it’s always important to have an understanding of words and phrases we use and there are so many other ways to show your passion for travel and adventure.A single word can rarely convey how someone feels about something and nor should we try and encapsulate our feelings in one word. I am guilty of using it myself but then if I was a girl AND American, I would love nothing more than take insta shots with fall leaves while sipping on my PSL. So I have an excuse, right?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. PackYourBaguios October 23, 2017 / 3:24 pm

    Love the Urban Dictionary definition! So true about the unrealistic fantasy and how the word really doesn’t have anything to do with real travel. Instead of yearning for that trip around the world, how about taking advantage of everything your current city has to offer you right now!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. RobRob @TravelLatte(.net) October 26, 2017 / 9:57 am

    I’ll be contrarian, and say never stop using the word wanderlust…appropriately. As in, without a #. I’m a fan of linguistics and believe that you should say what you mean, and mean what you say. In that light, wanderlust has a specific meaning and use. And, really, wanderlust is basic: A strong desire to travel. Nothing extraordinary about that. The problem is in the hashtag’s power to subvert almost anything. Wanderlust is not a moment in time, nor a place, nor an Instagrammable anything. I could go on, but I need to go express my #wanderlust with my #PumpkinSpiceLatte @Starbucks #onthecorner that #OMG literally looks like that place in the movie about the #princess. #coffeeselfie #YOLO! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  8. By Land and Sea October 29, 2017 / 10:25 am

    I knew something was missing from my life as I daydream out the window consumed by #wanderlust…. pumpkin spice!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hops September 5, 2018 / 9:14 am


    Since Katahdin, I have a bit of Wander-rust, because my feet still hurt unless I wear my Trailrunners. So after reading your blog I heading straight outside and hike or get on my bike and wander.

    Thanks for the motivation. – Hops

    Liked by 1 person

    • SeeBagsGo September 5, 2018 / 9:17 am

      Haha I like Wander-rust 😂 glad it’s getting you outside. Keep killin it, Hops!!


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