What kind of traveler are you?
What are the different kinds, really? Do you fit into one category, or perhaps have you lived in every pair of these proverbial shoes?
Originally, I was going to write yet another comparison piece between the term tourist and traveler. This is discussed, debated, and chewed through by most people who enjoy jaunting off to new places. However, it often comes across as pretentious, presumptuous, and elitist. The truth is, we are all a bit of both the tourist and the traveler, it just depends on the day and location! So instead, I am going to break down a few different travel styles that you may encounter, or find within your own personality.
I have admittedly been every single one of these at some point during my trips, except for the very last one. I would love to experience that someday though!
1. The Determined Tourist
This is the tourist who gets to a city and follows a set itinerary. They know exactly what they want to see, how much time that have to see it in, and they see it as a personal mission to get to each place. They wake up, and start the day by marking a route on their map or guidebook, and they follow it precisely. This person knows exactly where they will be at every hour of the day. They are supremely organized. Really, this person would make an excellent tour guide!
2. The Clueless Tourist
This is the tourist on the bus, or in a guided group, who knows very little about the location beforehand. They tend to learn the basic “yes, no, thank you” in the local language, but otherwise speak their native tongue. Usually found in groups, often with selfie sticks raised high, these are the tourists who stand out as foreigners. This is not always a bad thing, but does tend to be the most mocked sort of traveler.
3. The Nomad
You will meet this person in a hostel, usually. They don’t have a plan, and are completely flying by the seat of their pants. This is the person who will travel until the money runs out, with no real timeline. They are the most reckless, adventurous, and often times the friendliest of explorers. This person will decide to join you on your daily exploration, or even travel with you for a time. They are the type to couchsurf, hitchhike, and have no problem sleeping in a park if they have no accommodation. They are far more concerned with just being there. As such, these people tend to also be very helpful and warm, since much of their travel style relies on that from others.
4. The Spontaneous Traveler
This traveler is not quite as loose as a nomad, but they are comfortable going on trips last minute. Whether it’s a weekend roadtrip to a new city, or seeing a great deal on a short-notice flight and jumping for it, this person probably has a bag packed in their closet so they can go anytime.
5. The Organized Traveler
An intrepid explorer, this person does their research but does not let that define or dictate their experience. They may have a general itinerary, or an idea of which cities they are visiting in. Usually this person has planned their trip for a while in advance. However, unlike our Determined Tourist, this person leaves wiggle room and doesn’t book everything too far ahead, just in case they want to stay somewhere longer (or shorter!) This person will delve into the culture of a city, wander its streets aimlessly, but also take time to see the major points of interest. The Organized Traveler will make an effort to pick up some of the local language beforehand (or during their stay) to better communicate with locals.
6. The Settler
Some adventures last much longer than others. For this person, traveling to a place is more than just a visit. They will rent an apartment, get a job, and live there for a while. 6 months to a year seems to be the norm. In that time, they learn about the culture of the country, pick up the language, and use their apartment as a home base to explore other areas and towns. This person fully immerses themselves for an extended amount of time. This category of explorer also includes those who do volunteer work, such as for the Peace Corps.