The 5 Telltale Signs of a Xennial Traveler

The Internet provided us with a meme, and we rejoiced. Finally, there was someone on the world wide web who understood us (if you know the author of this let me know in the comments so I can give proper credit). We are xennials.

EDIT: the author of this meme has come through (you have to love the Internet!), so I’m embedding his original post from Instagram here. You can learn more about P. H. Davies, an author, on his official website called, well, Xennial.

What is a xennial? #xennial #generations #jordancatalano #mysocalledlife #1980s #1990s #starwars

A post shared by p_h_davies 🏳️‍🌈 (@_xennial) on

The generation of people who were old enough to enjoy Nirvana but too young to go to a concert before Kurt Cobain put an end to his life (yes, for a lot of us, it was tragic).

The kids who not only remember flip phones but who used them, proudly, because we were that high-tech.

The young adults who had lousy-looking, poorly-curated blogs and profiles on social media outlets before blogs and social media were a thing.

As xennials, we sound a lot like that Ironic song by Alanis Morissette, don’t we?

1. We Travel With Two Maps

Yeah, we don’t mind a little YOLO but we don’t go bat shit crazy if our phone dies in the middle of the street in an unknown city (although we are no strangers to the fabulous power banks). No, we don’t go and ask around for directions immediately (gasp!). We pull out the map we got at the tourist office in the city center (obviously).

Why? Because we remember a time when technology would easily let us down and we could quickly go back to the “old” days of the analog (which had been like 5 years before or something).

2. We Like Tours But We’re Picky AF

Yes, most of the times organized tours are for lazy tourists or seniors or kids on a field trip. However, we don’t mind going on one.

But we’re picky. We go online to read the reviews, we ask fellow bloggers to spill the beans, and we talk to friends who have been on the same tour to know what it was like. Oh yeah, we cross-check the details.

If you’re using a search engine keyword mentality to design your exclusive, authentic, independent tour, we are reading you like an open book.

3. We Look Silly on Instagram 67% of the Times (and We Don’t Care, I Think)

First off, kudos to all the people curating their IG feeds. You are artists (honestly). I love looking at them and I confess I’m a bit jealous at times (as a travel blogger, IG-envy is a thing).

I tried that once. The curating thing. Then I decided it wasn’t for me. I still go crazy if I don’t have 100 likes per photo, but then I have the “meh” epiphany (if you know someone like this, he or she is not being pedantic or a hipster. He or she is probably a xennial.)

Maybe it has something to do with all those failed photos we have of our vacation as kids? You know, when there were no digital cameras? I still cherish those photos. So they weren’t perfect, so what?

(We also don’t Snapchat. Especially not since Instagram Stories. We are simply not natural born Snapchatters. We went from being lomographers to being Instagrammers. Some of us still do both. Adding filters to a photo is not new territory for us but adding stickers is almost unholy)

My point with my parents’ skills in travel photography in 1982…

4. We’re Early Adopters of Technology (But We Don’t Depend on it)

Things evolve damn fast and xennials know that better than anyone else. Why? Because we’ve seen it happen, literally. We still have those moments when we reminisce about how connecting to the Internet took forever and when you were about to get through, someone called the landline. It was sooooo frustrating. (We reminisce, but we don’t go all “back in my day” on you. We appreciate the technological evolution)

(Whenever my son complains the Internet is slow, I laugh. Oh my dear boy, let me tell you the story of a time when the Internet was always slow. It was the Golden Age of MTV when the only non-musical show was Beavis & Butthead…)

If I could count how many travel apps I’ve downloaded in the past five years… to later decide they were all a disappointment because I couldn’t use them offline on location. I enjoy a little roaming now and then but, come on, let’s not go crazy! Starting June 15th, the EU will have no roaming fees forever and ever. You have no idea how excited we are over this. No idea. I haven’t shut up about it since I heard the first rumor in 2015.

5. Don’t Try to Fool Us with Travel Trends, We See Right Through You

Just because it looks cool as a trending hashtag it doesn’t mean is the greatest thing to ever happen to mankind. Chill. We grew up with television advertising, we know a clickbait when we see one. (Then again, we also believed the dog/dragon on the Neverending Story movie was a pretty neat special effect and were shit scared of Poltergeist)

Every time the UNWTO declares the “year of”, I can almost hear all the folks in the travel industry shuffling around to change slogans and marketing materials.

My biggest pet peeve as a xennial traveler – OMG it feels so amazing to say “xennial traveler”! If someone is making an effing t-shirt with this can I have one?

Ahem, sorry, my biggest pet peeve is when tour companies think they have us figured out. They either go fully vintage on us (and folks we like a good trip down memory lane, but don’t overdo it. Don’t give me the full 1990s experience or something, where the employees’ uniforms are overalls with the straps down) or they treat us like either Gen X’ers or Millennials and we’re the only ones not getting the message.

You. Have. To. Wow. Us. Literally, sweep us off our feet. Find out why we’re crazy about shows like Friends, The Big Bang Theory and Stranger Things (or most of Netflix, actually). Don’t give us the “ultimate hidden gems”, the “places only locals go to” (for real?), the “off the beaten track” (aka that place that has only 10 tourists instead of 100 but it’s still a tourist attraction), the “authentic immersive cultural experiences” (where all the activities are staged), the “bucket list of things to do before you die” (why the hell is everything so fatal in travel these days?)

We don’t need the big marketing clichés to be convinced. We need you to see us.

You’re losing us…

Are you a xennial traveler too? Tell me all about it on Facebook or Twitter. If you’re not much of a talker, follow Tripper on Instagram and Pinterest for your daily dose of travel inspiration.

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19 Comments

  1. 1

    OMG this is actually spot on – every bit! Haha
    Especially #5. How to tell someone is xennial? Passes for milennial on the outside yet inexplicably ‘trending-proof’!

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  4. 7

    Totally agree with this post. We have seen the analog age, so we are never really 100% dependent on everything digital like the younger guns. If google maps does not work, the real paper ones will do!

    • 8

      We’re the perfect mix of both generations and I wish we were more valued than we are by travel marketing efforts 🙂

  5. 9

    Ha! This gave me a good laugh. I’m 1988, so pretty firmly in the “millennial” camp, but I definitely had a flip phone in high school/college (not to mention a BANGIN’ geocities website when I was 13).

  6. 11

    I love this! Hadn’t heard of this official term myself but I always felt like “millennial” spanned way too many years, especially with all the changes in technology! LOL about traveling with two maps…as a millennial, I’m a sole relier on Google Maps. Always interesting to see how others travel 🙂

    • 12

      Sometimes I feel like an old lady pulling out my paper map, but I’ve been stranded once or twice on account of Google maps 😀

  7. 13

    Haha, this was a fun read 🙂 My hubby is in this age group, and sometimes I feel quite the same, as technology came a bit later to the place I am from. I did learn to use the email when I was 6 (and the very basics of computer programming too!), but I distinctly remember the slow internet. And the landlines. And how expensive it was to use the internet from a landline, once those became no longer free!

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  10. 19

    I so relate to this post! I’m a big fan of the sharing economy and ‘experiences not things.’ Age shouldn’t dictate our travel style or belief system.

    • 20

      “Xennials” (love the name by the way) have always been tricky to describe. And there’s a good reason for it. 🙂

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