I’ve traveled to nearly 50 nations, lived and worked in six different countries and combined a long term career break with shorter adventures, holidays and weekend escapes. As a result my own travel personality, style and preferences have evolved with each experience and I have met many other travellers (and travel personalities) along the way.
With the introduction of affordable and far-reaching airlines, the availability of information on the internet and the increased acceptance of work-life balances, travel has become more accessible for those with a desire to see more of the world. But not everyone is suited to all types of travel.
What is your TRAVEL PERSONALITY?
WHAT TYPE OF TRAVEL are you most suited to?
1. THE “ARMCHAIR TRAVELLER”
There are two types of “armchair travellers”. The first tend to live vicariously through TV documentaries, blogs and travel magazines, and have no desire to leave the comfort of their own home. They are genuinely interested in the outside world, they appreciate the great outdoors and they are usually quite open-minded and tolerant of other cultures. They simply view travel as a noun rather than a verb. The second type of “armchair traveller” is also known as the ‘dreamer’.
They think they want to travel, they think they want to see the world, they think they want to change their lives – but they really don’t. They are constantly making excuses as to why they can’t travel such as “I have too many commitments, I don’t have the money, I don’t have anyone to travel with or I don’t have the time”. When you talk about your favourite travel destination, they are the ones who are most likely to respond with a hint of bitterness as they say “I am so jealous”, “you are so lucky” or “I wish I had your life”.
THE BEST THING ABOUT THE “ARMCHAIR TRAVELER”
When you return home and find yourself unable to stop talking about your latest travel adventure, the armchair traveller is not just being polite when they ask “how was your trip”. They are genuinely interested and provide a great opportunity to hang on to the memories of your experiences just that little bit longer.
THE WORST THING ABOUT THE “ARMCHAIR TRAVELER”
Similar to armchair football managers, they can sometimes become an unjustified and slightly irritating ‘expert’!
· MOST LIKELY TO SAY (with a sigh): “I wish I could visit Africa one day”
· MOST LIKELY TO PACK: Nothing! “Armchair travellers” aren’t going anywhere
· MOST LIKELY SEEN: At the local store buying this month’s National Geographic Traveller magazine
· MOST LIKELY TO BE FRIENDS WITH: The “All Rounder” – they can live vicariously through their adventures
· MOST LIKELY TO BE IRRITATED BY: “No-one” (if they are the first ‘type’) and “everyone” (if they are the second ‘type’)
AM I AN “ARMCHAIR TRAVELER”? I think it’s fairly safe to answer that with a resounding NO!
2. THE “BACKPACKER”
The stereotypical “backpacker” is under the age of thirty, wears the same t-shirt every day and only stays in hostels – but the reality is a little different. “Backpackers” are born through choice or necessity. You are most likely to be a “backpacker” if you are on a long term travel adventure such as a Gap Year or a Career Break as funds are limited when you want your savings to stretch as far as possible.
Solo travellers are often “backpackers” as they find it easier to meet other people in hostels and guesthouses. Sometimes a particular location is more tailored to the “backpacker” and more often than not a “backpacker” has a yearning for independent travel. But be warned – carrying a backpack does not make you a “backpacker”! “Backpackers” possess a unique mind-set, a laid-back attitude, a passion for travel and a love of independence.
THE BEST THING ABOUT THE “BACKPACKER”
Whether it’s the thirty hour bus ride on dodgy roads, the bed bug infested hostel or the stolen luggage, the “backpacker” not only has a full repertoire of entertaining stories, but they are the traveller most likely to face a travel disaster, survive a travel disaster and laugh about a travel disaster over a beer.
THE WORST THING ABOUT THE “BACKPACKER”
Despite the stereotype of spending the least amount of money when traveling, some “backpackers” view themselves in the ‘travel elite’ category. They can be a little patronising to new travellers, may scorn at those who have just finished an organised tour and are most likely to start a heated debate over the merits of volunteering.
· MOST LIKELY TO SAY: I am a traveller, not a tourist
· MOST LIKELY TO PACK: Flip flops or Teva sandals
· MOST LIKELY SEEN: Enjoying a banana pancake and cold beer at a guesthouse in South East Asia
· MOST LIKELY TO BE FRIENDS WITH: The All Rounder who shares the travel bug and has a common love of independent travel
· MOST LIKELY TO BE IRRITATED BY: The tourist. They are the traveller most likely to start the ‘tourist v traveller’ debate
AM I A “BACKPACKER”? I have been a “backpacker” on the majority of my travels, through both necessity (during a 15 month career break when money was stretched) and choice (when I have craved that feeling of freedom I associate with getting back to basics). I have no doubt the majority of my future trips will continue to involve backpacking, I love it.
3. THE “TOURIST”
The “tourist” is often labelled in a negative way – sometimes this is unfair but sometimes it is justified. Tourists come in all shapes and sizes. A “tourist” may be someone on a beach holiday who is taking a day out to see a local attraction. A “tourist” may be someone who takes European city escapes every chance they get and likes to ‘tick’ the local ‘must-see’ attractions. A “tourist” may be someone who is keen to see more of the world but doesn’t have the confidence or desire to venture far from the beaten track. A “tourist” may be making the most of a business trip to a location they haven’t visited before and wants to see the best a place has to offer in limited time.
THE BEST THING ABOUT THE “TOURIST”
Tourism is one of the biggest industries in the world and needs ”tourists” to survive. “Tourists” provide much-needed income to developing countries, they keep hotels in business and a wide variety of jobs are created as a result of the holidays they book.
THE WORST THING ABOUT THE “TOURIST”
“Tourists” are sometimes afraid of getting off the beaten track and miss out on amazing local experiences as a result. They are often reluctant to move outside their comfort zone, are less likely to understand cultural differences and most likely to return from a holiday dissatisfied. Unfortunately these reasons sometimes prevent “tourists” from being responsible travellers and create a negative stereotype of travelling westerners.
· MOST LIKELY TO SAY: The local food was terrible (after eating at their hotel)
· MOST LIKELY TO PACK: A Guide Book
· MOST LIKELY SEEN: Standing in a queue for three hours, to visit the museum the guide book suggests is a ‘must see’ destination
· MOST LIKELY TO BE FRIENDS WITH: Other “Tourists”
· MOST LIKELY TO BE IRRITATED BY: The Backpacker – although it’s unlikely their paths will cross
AM I A “TOURIST?” Do I behave like a “tourist”? I hope not. Am I a “tourist”? Yes – we all are at times whether we like to admit it or not. Some destinations are particularly geared towards tourism and putting on a ‘tourist hat’ for the day can result in unexpected, memorable experiences. “Being a tourist” is a great way to see the highlights of a destination when time is limited.
4. “ALL THE GEAR WITH NO IDEA”
The “All The Gear With No Idea” traveller focuses more on being a ‘traveller’ than actually having a ‘travel experience’. They may have the right gear with no idea how to use it or they may have the right gear for the wrong location. Unlike the “backpacker” who can travel for a year with one small backpack, this traveller often packs too much and usually forgets the most important and useful items. Common examples of the “All The Gear With No Idea” traveller is the amateur photographer carrying a Canon 5D and shooting in the fully automatic mode. It may be someone with high tech binoculars in a safari outfit in Africa, who forgot to bring sunscreen and mosquito repellent. Or it may be someone walking around in a sexy bikini top in a Muslim country.
I once met a woman in Cambodia travelling with a suitcase without wheels, containing two pairs of jeans, a long-sleeved denim shirt and covered shoes. This may have been fine for a city break in Europe but it wasn’t too practical in the 40° humidity where you take your shoes off every time you walk inside, and are constantly moving your luggage around buses, tuk-tuks and guesthouses.
THE BEST THING ABOUT THE” ALL THE GEAR WITH NO IDEA TRAVELER”
They can provide some entertaining moments for other travellers!
THE WORST THING ABOUT THE “ALL THE GEAR WITH NO IDEA TRAVELER”
Traveling with the wrong gear has the ability to turn someone into the worst type of traveller – the Complainer.
· MOST LIKELY TO SAY: The men are so sleazy in this country (as she is dressed in gold hot pants and a small top revealing her midriff – true story at the Valley of the Kings in Egypt!)
· MOST LIKELY TO PACK: A tripod, extra batteries, three lenses, laptop, iPad, binoculars, mobile phone charger, adapters, ear plugs, sleeping mask – but forget comfortable walking shoes
· MOST LIKELY SEEN: In the local Kathmandu Store buying every travel gadget available
· MOST LIKELY TO BE FRIENDS WITH: The Tourist – they can compare ‘must see’ locations from the “Tourist’s” guide book with their ‘must have’ gadgets
· MOST LIKELY TO BE IRRITATED BY: The “backpacker” who has brought ten times less luggage but has everything they forgot to bring
AM I AN “ALL THE GEAR WITH NO IDEA” TRAVELER? Not on purpose! However, there have been times that I have arrived at a place having forgotten something essential, or realised I have packed inappropriate clothes. But this is usually the result of packing with a hangover rather than having “no idea”.
5. THE “ALL ROUNDER”
The “All Rounder” is born to travel. Being outside their comfort zone actually becomes their comfort zone. Being away from home makes them feel more alive, they love to learn about other cultures, and are inspired by different people and lifestyles. They often have hobbies such as photography and hiking, keep in touch with local friends they meet along the way and are the travel type most likely to have their own blog.
They are always planning the next trip and have found ways to make travel a regular part of their lives by balancing longer term adventures (such as career breaks) with weekend city escapes. The “All Rounder” can usually adapt to all travel styles and has often travelled as an independent back-packer, been on organised tours, and stayed in both hostels and 5✩✮✫✰ hotels. The “All Rounder” lives to travel and is always looking for ways to make it a bigger part of their life.
THE BEST THING ABOUT THE “ALL ROUNDER”
The “All Rounder” is often a great source of travel information. They have usually visited a diverse range of locations from developing countries to modern cities, have experience with independent travel as well as organised tours and are pros at finding ways to interact with the locals and get off the beaten track whilst still seeing the highlights of a destination.
THE WORST THING ABOUT THE “ALL ROUNDER”
The “All Rounder” views all trips away from home as a travel adventure and as such, they do not always make the best holiday companions. If your ideal holiday is lying on a beach, sleeping late, and not venturing outside an all-inclusive resort, the All Rounder is probably not your ideal holiday companion.
· MOST LIKELY TO SAY: I have just planned my next travel adventure
· MOST LIKELY TO PACK: A laptop to update their travel journal or blog whilst on the road
· MOST LIKELY SEEN: Taking a career break
· MOST LIKELY TO BE FRIENDS WITH: The “Backpacker” (whilst on the road) and the “Armchair Traveller” (once they return home and want to keep talking about their adventures to anyone who will listen)
· MOST LIKELY TO BE IRRITATED BY: The “Armchair Traveller”, as they can’t understand why someone doesn’t want to explore the world as much as they do
AM I AN “ALL-ROUNDER”? Yes. Travel is in my blood, it energises me, it inspires me and it’s a big part of my life. I backpack, I join organised tours, I travel on my own, I stay in hostels, I stay in 5✩ hotels, I explore cities, I hike in the great outdoors, I travel for work, I travel for pleasure, and I am always thinking about my next adventure.