People travel in different ways. This makes for a curious combination when you meet, say, atop the roof of a Nepali guesthouse. Drifters, trekkers, digital nomads, humanitarians, yogis, and your everyday tourists, all mixed in a bunch and from every corner of the world. The beauty is, despite your differing travel styles, (nearly) everyone gets along, because you’re all doing what you love.
When you’ve been traveling as long as I have, you begin to spot travel archetypes in those you meet. Here are just twelve travel breeds I’ve identified in the wild.
To find out which type you are, take the quiz: What Kind of Traveler are You?
The Photography Fanatic
The Photography Fanatic lugs around his Nikon D3300 with six different lenses wherever he goes. He stops at all junctions to frame the best shot, pushes the entire tour group together for a photo every chance he gets, and click-click-clicks at museum artifacts like they’re Kim Kardashian. Basically, he travels through a camera lens. Oh, and he’s also got a GoPro to capture those in-motion memories AND a freaking selfie stick. If you’re traveling with this breed, make sure you’re always camera-ready.
The TravelBook Planner
The TravelBook Planner has to – has to – HAS TO – have a plan. For every second. Of every day. Of your entire trip. With the Lonely Planet City Guide in her back pocket, she makes lists and timetables and prints out maps and directions. She is both helpful and a handful, so much so that you want to hug her for saving you the trouble and punch her in the face at the same time. She knows what she wants to get out of travel and how to get it, but knowing everything comes at a cost. Half the fun of travel is getting lost. You never feel anxious about losing yourself with this one…you just feel anxious 24/7.
The Triple-Stamped Passport
This traveler has been every-f@#*ing-where. Don’t even bother asking if he’s been to that one restaurant at the Beijing hutong that serves the super crisp green beans or whether, on his dalliance in Ukraine, he dropped by the nuclear site at Chernobyl. He has. Actually, he’s best friends with the owner of The Chinese Lantern, and he’s suffering from radiation poisoning, thank you very much. This traveler’s passport is so drenched in ink that airports have to stamp over old stamps just so they don’t have to bother with immigration bureaucracy. Don’t try to impress Triple-Stamped with your travel stories. He’ll one-up you every time.
The Spontaneous Spirit Animal
Travel dust in the wind, Spontaneous Spirit Animals are more abundant in the travelsphere than you may think. They drift from here to there without any direction whatsoever. Although they may seem dreamy to some, they’re the TravelBook Planner’s worst nightmare. Spontaneous Spirit Animals will take you on an adventure…but they’ll leave you for a better adventure at the drop of a dime. While they are fun to be around, don’t get attached. They are but ghosts.
The Cruiseship Tourist
You don’t necessarily have to be a regular on cruiseships to be a Cruiseship Tourist. This type of traveler loves guided tours of any kind. Walking tours, bus tours, city tours. He’s probably the most quintessential American tourist travel type, fannypack and all. Although he may find himself tourist trapped on occasion and is likely missing out on the hidden treasure hole-in-the-walls, he’s guaranteed a safe, steady, and structured vacation. Because that’s exactly what he paid for.
The Budget Blowhard
You’re likely to find this travel type at dirt cheap hostels, sleeping at airports, or taking free city guide tours (free shit? Yay!). The Blowhard is “on a tight budget!” and she won’t let you stop hearing about it. Every time you go out to eat or suggest a daytrip, the Budget Blowhard pauses for thought, doing the math in her head to see if the cost per value of the experience is worth it. BB’s don’t want to spend a Euro more than they have to. There’s nothing wrong with being frugal, but if you’re affluent, yourself, you should probably steer clear of buddying up with a Budget Blowhard. You’ll either miss out on the experiences you want to have, or you’ll be footing the bill the entire way.
The Big Backpack Vagabond
There are two varieties of the Big Backpack Vagabond: Scraggly Beard Big Backpack and Glossy-Haired Big Backpack. Glossy-Haireds are those who look like they curse the day they ever packed this giant tubesock, while Scraggly Beards walk hunchedbacked as though the bag has somehow sutured itself to their spine and become a natural growth. The latter crew usually appears unwashed, heavily bearded, and smells like they haven’t showered in months (guess what? They haven’t), while the former is buttoned-up, fresh-breathed, and glossy. In other words, Glossy-Haireds look like respectable people…although their faces say they want to murder this sack of cement on their back and its entire family. Glossy-Haireds likely romanticized about being hippy and worldly enough to pull off the Big Backpack lifestyle, but they just aren’t cutting it. Scraggly Beard likely sleeps in his backpack. Look out for either variety on the subway…one wrong move, and they’ll knock you out cold.
The Go-with-the-Flow-er is the happy medium between two extreme travel types: the TravelBook Planner and the Spontaneous Spirit Animal. Go-with-the-Flow-ers have ideas about what to do, but aren’t pushy about their agenda. Stretching out on the beach, climbing Mount Everest, shopping until you drop – they’re all in! Down with whatever, these easy-breezy travel companions love seeing the sights, but don’t have mile high expectations about knocking out every tourist attraction on the list. They also don’t mind getting lost – not at all – because they’ll find their way eventually. Chill. Mellow. They’re just super stoked to be in Amsterdam, mannnnnn.
The Eternal Expat
This type of traveler is not really a “traveler,” per say. She’s more like a forever-nomad. The Eternal Expat settles down for great lengths of time in one place, usually working in either a digital nomad capacity, TEFLing, or in some other more established employment. Eternal Expats stay put for several months to even years, exploring their surroundings and living like a local. They can probably take you off-the-beaten-path, as they often serve as dedicated guides around the city to friends who come to visit. Depending how long they’ve been settled, they’re either still excited about the locale, getting a bit irritated with the locals, or they’re completely over it.
The Map Stepper
If you’re a fan of Friends, you know what a Map Stepper is. Joey in London, getting his bearings by stepping into the map. This type is the most clueless of tourists. Although they’re similar to Cruiseship Tourists, in that they’re definitely tourists and not travelers, unlike the Cruiseship Tourist, they’re trying to self-guide…and it’s not really working. They’re constantly lost, standing quizzically in the middle of the street, with their foldable city maps unfurled, looking right and then left…and then right again. Pointing. Rubbing their chin. Wiping sweat from their brow. Nose to map. Breaking the Cardinal Rule of Travel Blogs – i.e. “Don’t look like a tourist!” Looking lost is like clickbait for pickpockets. Well-traveled types have a responsibility to help a brother out, obliged to take time out of our lives to direct Map Steppers on their way. Or, at the very least, pick their pockets. Whichever is more convenient.
Usually in their early-to-mid twenties, the nightlife is the Broseph’s scene, and “YOLO” is their motto. Whether or not they belong to a frat or sorority, they have the stereotypical “Greek life” travel persona. They’re just here to party. They know the hottest clubs and – guess what? – they’ll bring them back to the hostel for you at three in the morning. Loud, inconsiderate and, likely, vomiting, Brosephs and the Brosephines are just trying to have a good time. Gee willikers, Batman – stop being a buzzkill!
The Miserable Miser
Ugh. Miserable Misers are god awful. They make travel THE WORST for you, for themselves, for everyone around them. They hate every minute of their adventure. They don’t want to be here. They’re outside their comfort zone, and they’re not having it. “Why are there so many foreigners? Doesn’t anyone speak English? Where are we going? We’re lost, again?! Jeeees-us!” They hate the city, they hate the food, they hate the crowds. And they probably hate you too.
Whichever archetype you fit into, the great thing is, there’s no good or bad way to travel (except for the last type…you should probably stay home). Travel how you want, when you want, where you want, in the way you want, and you’ll get exactly what you want out of the experience. Take the quiz and find out which type of traveler you are.
*Fellow travelers who’ve identified other travel breeds, please feel free to comment in the comment section. I may just add ‘em to the list.