Everyone travels differently; we all visit different places in different ways and no two people or travel experiences are the same. Even with all these differences though, there are a lot of unexpected commonalities, including the hallmarks of what constitutes a good traveler. This is just my opinion of course, but here are some personality traits I’ve found to be important whenever and wherever I travel.
1. Curiosity – I consider curiosity to be the keystone upon which any quality travel experience is built. Sure you can buy a ticket and visit any country in the world without being intellectually motivated, but it’s only half an experience. In order to really learn about a new place you have to want to know everything there is to know about the people, the cities, the food – everything that makes the culture tick. This is also what makes travel an addiction for me personally. Since I was a little kid I’ve wanted to know all there is to know about every country in the world. It’s a lifelong mission without a doubt, but it also means life is exciting and unpredictable.
2. Honesty – If travel has taught me one thing it’s that no matter where you go in the world, no matter how far away from home you are, people everywhere are basically good and honest. But this happens only through the unwritten rule of always being truthful, honest and helpful when you travel. It can be the smallest of actions, like correcting a cashier who hands you the wrong change but combined, these actions of human kindness make life so much more enjoyable.
3. Patience – Travel is oftentimes fun and exciting, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy or without the occasional hiccup. Bad travel experiences are just part of travel and you need to be patient when necessary, never losing your temper or being unrealistic. You will have to wait hours sometimes in immigration lines and you will miss flights, trains and buses. It’s during the most trying of travel times when we are truly tested and patience is a vital personality trait for any great traveler.
4. Perseverance – Just as patience is key when bad things happen on the road, so is perseverance. It can be tempting to just give up when seemingly insurmountable odds begin to stack up, but just as with patience you must also keep trying. It also takes perseverance to make our travel dreams a reality in the first place. I’ve always wanted to travel the world, but for a long time that was an experience well beyond my reach. Then in college I decided to take five part time jobs and save as much money as possible so that after I graduated I could get out there and see the world. It wasn’t easy but I did it and I spent an incredible few weeks trekking out on my own.
5. Humility – Humility does not come easily to most of us, unless you’re a true Mother Teresa type. When we first begin to travel overseas especially, our egos come to the forefront and we think how much better we are than most other people in the world. Pretty quickly though those egos are correctly tamped down and we begin to realize how insignificant we as individuals truly are, no matter how important we may be in our own minds. Humility isn’t just a good personal trait to have in general, but it also makes the travel experience much richer. When we are humble we are more likely to engage with locals and learn about them and their lives. It is when we are humble that we admit we don’t know everything and are willing to accept help. It is when we are humble that the world opens its doors so we can really see it for what it is; a wonderfully exciting and beautiful place.
What are some traits you think are important for a good traveler?