I have been abroad for 9 months now and throughout my travels I have met many unique and colorful people. Some have been in passing, others more long term. The serendipity of these encounters always amazes me and leaves me curious about the person’s life story. Why are they traveling?
After months of research – which has consisted of deep conversations over glorious food and bottles of wine, on piers that rest along the Adriatic, or during strolls through medieval streets – I have concluded that people travel for two main reasons: they are either running away from or in search of something.
For many people, traveling serves as a fresh start. It allows them to compartmentalize eras and places in their life. The beauty of adventure can be completely separate from the pain or stress of their normal prior existence. Thus, traveling is often the path used to run away from toxic relationships, personal crises, miserable jobs, or failure.
Or on the other hand, many travelers are in search of something – usually abstract and difficult to locate. This could be any sense of fulfillment, happiness, wisdom, self-purpose, and most commonly, love.
At times the reasons for adventure may overlap. Perhaps someone is running away from the terrifying feeling of not having an identity. Thus they are simultaneously searching for something else – their true selves.
Nevertheless, we are all wanderers at one point or another. We all have a past marred with memories that we would like to erase. We all have hope for a better future, which is why we get up every morning and silently pray that it will be a good day. No matter how happy our lives may seem, there will always be periods where we are seeking something more or running away from what was. Perhaps we may not all buy a one-way ticket to escape; some may go for long runs to isolate themselves from reality, others drink or eat their sorrows away. We create our own coping methods to escape and feel a moment of freedom. At the same time, we subconsciously search for what our souls yearn for. These actions may not be as obvious as signing up on a dating website if you desire companionship or going sky-diving if you crave adventure. Yet no matter what, we will find ourselves making small changes in our lives or pausing for moments of reflection and realize that we want more.
So as I meet fellow ex-pats, back-packers, or visitors passing through my city – I can’t help but wonder which reason are they traveling for? Whether they share their story or not, I always hope they find what they are looking for or make amends with what happened in their pasts.
Now on a lighter note – One of my dear friends shared a picture with me. It cleverly classifies the different types of travelers. This brought me to thinking about my own experiences and encounters. I have met and traveled with some amazing people; however, I have also come across some incompatible ones. So I decided to create my own list of traveling types. I do not mean to offend anyone with these descriptions as I believe depending on the day or the country we are in, we are all one type or another – or perhaps a mixture of them all.
Frugal Freddie: Frugal Freddie may come across as stingy, but they are actually a very smart traveler. They take advantage of any freebie or invite. You offer a cookie, they eat the whole pack. You offer a place to crash, they stay a week. They are usually seasoned veterans of traveling and have learned the tricks of the trade – take what you can to save a few. At first you admire their savvy skills but it can get old after a while.
Party Pooper: Every party has a pooper, that’s why we invited you! Now this melodramatic person is truly more indifferent than depressing. They show no real excitement for anything and often need to be coerced into an activity or evening out. They are still a lovable breed, just exhausting to deal with. Usually a wild night out, a breathtaking view, or spontaneous adventure will cure them of their blues.
Good-Time-Guy/Gal: The polar opposite of Party Pooper. The Good-Time-Guy or Gal is always ready to spice up the day or bar-hop all night. The time of day, level of hangover, or bank account balance do not matter to this traveler. They are there to party and usually succeed in convincing others to play along. They tend to stay out all night and show up at breakfast with a fabulous story to share.
MapQuest: This person is vital to have in your travel circle. They not only have a keen sense of direction, but they also book bus tickets and flights with paranormal ease and speed. These types of travelers usually enjoy planning and organizing, so arranging the itinerary is their guilty pleasure.
The Coaster: Another smart traveler. They reap the advantages of others’ planning and organizing. They tend to go with the flow and usually do not take initiative. Their carefree mood does not vary much and are willing to go wherever, whenever. They are actually quite compatible with MapQuest since one likes to plan and the other doesn’t.
Lucky Lad or Lady: The Lucky Lad or Lady is certainly basking in good karma. They land the open seat away from the man with the BO, they find money on the ground, their phone effortlessly connects to every available WiFi, and they can sweet-talk their way into discounted accommodation for the evening. Befriend them in hopes that some of their luck will rub off on you.
Trivia Master: This traveler must have been a straight-A student in University, spent their nights watching documentaries, or have a photographic memory. They know every random fact and date about every city you visit. They take on the role as the tour guide and inform you of why you are visiting the city in the first place. The Trivia Master is very handy to travel with because you don’t have to carry around a tourist guidebook and (gasp!) look like a tourist.
Mama/Papa Bear: Mama and Papa Bear are the leaders of the pack. They naturally take charge and make choices for groups of tired, hungry, indecisive, and dysfunctional people. They also truly care about the well-being and safety of the group, being sure to steer everyone clear of dangerous train stations or shady bar patrons.
Pack Rat: The Pack Rat will never cease to amaze you. They somehow fit four seasons and two closets worth of clothes into one Mary Poppins-esque rucksack. They don’t wear the same outfit twice and continue to shop and acquire more clothes and souvenirs along the way. As long as you don’t have to carry their bag, they show no harm.
The Friend Collector: Ahh the Friend Collector – they do not just exist among travelers but in all societies. Their sentences usually begin with “my friend said…I have a friend who…” After a while you begin to wonder if these “friends” truly hold big parts in their life or if they were merely acquaintances while passing through a city. There usually are two types of Friend Collectors. The naive one who is still living in middle school and believes quantity is more important than quality, or the smart one who maintains the relationships with these new-found friends and creates beneficial connections.
The Native Foreigner: After meeting this traveler you will become very curious to find out why they are traveling in the first place. They love their homeland and are extremely patriotic. They often complain about the locals and compare the differences between the city you’re in and their home. They mean well and are usually a great time, just don’t seem to fit in a foreign country. Eventually when they find it time to return home, you are not surprised and even less so when you see them resume their pre-travels life on Facebook.
Mr. Sunshine: The best for last. This person is wonderful to have in your traveling group or an honor to meet during your trip. They are uplifting, positive, and usually extremely funny. They are the only ones that after a 10 hour bus ride will make you energized and smiling. They will rally people together and raise moral. Depending on your sense of humor, their jokes will leave you belly-laughing or mildly offended.