I believe we can learn a lot about ourselves through travel and how we set out to experience the world. Are you a classic tourist type who hits all the famous landmarks laid out for you? Or happy to take it slow and get a feel for the culture and ambiance? A free spirit and dreamer with no set itinerary or a planner and a doer?
We each have our own unique travel style and mine seems to constantly evolve year after year. I have a confession to make: I suffer from split personality disorder, when it comes to travel that is. I am a mess of contradictions, just see for yourself…
I am not cut out for solo travel.
I consider myself a fairly independent person in normal, everyday life. A self-proclaimed introverted extrovert who enjoys meeting new people but after several hours of socializing, needs time to rejuvenate in a bubble bath with a glass of vino. I wouldn’t call it anti-social, more so selectively social.
My trip to Singapore last month proved that I couldn’t last three days alone without going crazy from lack of human interaction. Exploring on my own during the day was great for a bit of self-reflection and the freedom of living by my own schedule. But as the sun went down and I dined alone, only to return to a vacant apartment, I felt downright depressed. As I edit my 200+ photos from the trip, I realise I got not a single photo of myself.
I experienced this horror on my cruises through the Great Barrier Reef and Milford Sound. My anxiety spikes when thrown into a situation with tons of people I don’t know. I also have no patience for slow walkers, pushers, and people who don’t pay attention and collide head first into me. The epitome of group tours.
Just let me hang with a pack of animals instead, they understand…
I thrive off of new, off-the-beaten-path experiences.
New countries, new foods, new cultures, new people, new adventures. With a never-ending leap list, I’m always up for a good challenge, and will try anything at least once. Twice if it’s good. A few years ago, I would have chosen all-inclusive resorts and soaking up sunshine on the beach. It has taken me many of years to appreciate the great outdoors and taking the road less traveled.
I am scared of many things.
I would like to think of myself as a carefree traveler, but my anxiety often takes a toll.
What if I miss my flight? What if I get lost? What if my luggage doesn’t arrive? What if I get scammed? What if I fall off this mountain? What if I get sick? What if I get kidnapped and left for dead?
I often crave familiarity and activities I already know I love, but I work every day to push myself outside of my cosy comfort zone. I regret not skydiving or bungee jumping in New Zealand and taking the less risky options of paragliding and climbing a mountain. But I honestly didn’t have $450 to spare. An excuse to go back when I’m rich and famous… to retire with a view of course.
I research and plan out my destination forever.
Whereas normal people would simply say “I want to go to Europe” and book a trip the very next day, I think long and hard before taking any kind of impulsive action. I feel the need to make calculated risks and weigh the pros and cons of any situation. I spend so long researching all my options that everything only comes together at the last minute. Isn’t the whole idea of travel to get away from schedules and routines? But planning the trip is half the fun!
I am a panic last-minute packer.
I’d like to think I am super organized and have everything prepared far in advance, but the truth is: it is all a facade. I perform best under pressure and tight deadlines. When it’s near flight time, I just chuck everything in my luggage and cross my fingers I don’t forget all the important items (ie. Last spring break, my boyfriend picked me up from my college town for an 8am flight to Nicaragua. I packed intoxicated and ended up forgetting a hairbrush, hairtie (it was 100 degrees!), sunscreen, cash, and a razor. But managed to remember 8 rompers, 5 dresses, and 2 fedoras. Priorities, people.
I feel at peace near a body of water.
Give me a beach or coastal city such as Sydney and I am in heaven.
I seek out destinations known for their street art or wineries.
I hate spending money freely.
Ask anyone who knows me well, I am the frugalista, queen of finding coupons and deals. Basically, if it’s not on sale, I’m not buying. On sale technically means I’m saving money, spending right? #logic 😉
I don’t mind splurging on experiences.
I struggle to spend $20 on an average dinner but a $900 flight to Thailand is a no-brainer (knowing my food and accommodation will be cheap once there). I could never be a backpacking, couch surfing, hostel living, dumpster diving, 24-hour bus journey type because I do savour the finer things in life. But no matter how much money I make in corporate, I don’t see myself ever becoming a first-class, private chef, luxury traveler either. I stick to a limited budget in day-to-day life (after paying nearly half my paycheck on rent… Sydney cost of living is absurd) saving money where I can on material items so I can ball out on amazing experiences!
I do all the touristy things.
We all know the iconic places to visit in Australia: The Harbour Bridge, Opera House, Great Barrier Reef, Blue Mountains and the Outback. Been there, done (most of) that. I felt obligated to play tourist in my first several months here. How long must one live in a city before they are considered a local? I think of myself as a true Sydney Sider as my first year draws to a close. Heck, I’ve explored more of Sydney than my own hometown of 22 years!
Popular tourists spots are that way for a reason: for the history, beauty, or culture, but some of the most rewarding traveling experiences are outside of the realm of guide books. That’s where travel blogs come in… hint hint… Sydney and Melbourne hidden secrets for your reading pleasure 😉
I feel most fulfilled immersing myself in local culture.
I am not big into history and museums, but more so the culture, people, and wonders of nature. As a traveler, you have a choice: You can remain on the outside looking in, or engross yourself fully into a culture and truly experience a different way of life. Many people will choose the easier, comfortable route and remain ignorant to much of the place they are visiting. This is doing yourself an injustice.
In my opinion, the best way is hanging with the locals and following their suit. I had a fantastic time with a Singaporean family I met on withlocals who cooked me an authentic four course meal of chicken with Chinese herb, Vege tou Miao with prawn and pork ribs with lotus root soup. Holy yum.
Hi my name is Shane and I am the most directionally challenged individual you will ever meet. “Shane, you need to be more observant of your surroundings,” my mother has preached to me since birth.
It can take me an hour just finding where I parked my car. And maps do me no good. I’m like a sad, lost puppy dog asking for directions, and then proceeding to forget them two minutes later. It’s pathetic, but I have learned to come to terms with my shortcomings.
I realize getting lost can become a blessing in disguise.
Sometimes tossing out the map and throwing caution to the wind can be an eye opening and freeing experience. Travel is unpredictable. Things will go wrong. Places are constantly changing. Getting lost helps you learn to relax and go with the flow. You may stumble across hidden gems, hole-in-the wall restaurants, street art and laneways you would have missed. Getting lost often makes for the best stories so go ahead and take that wrong turn!
I don’t want to travel full time.
My instagram may give a false impression that I am constantly traveling. Wrong. I work a 9-5 in a bank! While some people are able to make a living gallivanting the globe as a digital nomad, that is just not for me.
I hate feeling rushed.
I prefer to stay in one place for an extended period of time rather than hopping from city to city. A whirlwind trip around Europe with a full itinerary freaks me out (one day!) I learn to savor and make the most of my four weeks of holiday (thanks Australia, I can never leave this spoiled place!)
I want to see it all.
I feel that the older generation struggles to comprehend why millenials aren’t content staying at home, why their souls are so restless and unhappy with their current situation. Are we running away from reality?
When we travel, we don’t just travel. We learn, we laugh, we love, gain courage, conquer fears, and can be anyone we want to be. When we travel we feel, in all depths. We change. We adapt. We evolve. Everything you could ever possibly imagine is out there, all within reach and ready to be explored.
Travel makes us feel alive; it’s a source of inspiration, and for that we stay close – passport in one hand and a sense of curiosity in the other. Stay close to what makes you feel alive. – Love Assembly
It scares me to think I will never be able to see all that this beautiful world has to offer. I refuse to waste one second more.
Bottom line: I can’t be labeled.
I can’t be classified as a budget or luxury traveler. An adventure or solo traveler. And you shouldn’t be either! There is no “right” way to travel.
While waiting to board your next flight, observe your fellow travelers and try to guess what travel persona they fit. Do you see a wide-eyed newbie? A rugged backpacking couple? A family of explorers? An international business man with a connecting flight? Realizing everyone you see bought a ticket for the same destination, pretty neat if you ask me!