Friday Confessions: My Travel Quirks

Eiffel Tower

Just like a fingerprint, everyone has their own quirks and foibles when it comes to their travel philosophy and style. Not wanting to seem aloof, here are some of the loops and ridges of my own travel fingerprint.

I like to plan. Yes, I know it’s an awful thing and everyone says how important it is to hang loose and just take things as they come, but I just can’t do it. I confessed to this travel sin in an earlier post and was excited to see how many people were in the same traveler OCD group with me. Some would say that my predilection to plan every moment of every trip is a deep-seated desire to ensure that nothing will go wrong. I sort of disagree with this.

Rather, I think part of it simply is the excitement of a trip. I guess I probably should have been a travel agent because there are few things that I enjoy more in this world than planning a trip. It starts with looking at a map (yes, I’m old school, but I love maps) and charting out a preliminary route. Next are some online searches, testing the waters of airline fares and how much of a hit to the wallet to expect. After weeks or months of playing around with various ideas and itineraries, the moment of truth arrives, the button is clicked and bang! I have a plane ticket. From that point on, everything happens fast with hotel bookings, public transportation mapping and day-by-day overviews of what to do. In my defense, even though I typically do over plan our trips, I very rarely, if ever, actually pay attention to the plan. What the act of constructing the itinerary does for me though is bring to life the city or country in advance and make me eager and excited to explore, see and learn.


I have two types of carry on bags, based on my mood and persona that day. The first is an old, kind of ratty messenger bag that I love to carry around in urban settings. It’s perfect because while it may hold guides, maps and water, the bag alone doesn’t single me out as a touron. There’s also something very adventurous about the bag, which sounds infinitely odd and slightly pretentious, but so be it. When I adorn this pale brown bag I am no longer Matt Long, white collar worker and travel blogger, but suddenly I become Mateo, traveler and explorer. It’s a small conceit, but one I enjoy. The second carry on is a Patagonia daypack that I picked up from REI before our Bangkok trip in 2007.

I have an odd relationship with REI.  Whenever I’m in there, I feel like the biggest poser in the world. I’m usually surrounded by super fit kayakers and rock climbers who are debating the finer points of whatever device thingies they use. Whereas I fumble around, play with some of the toys and end up leaving with some ridiculous purchase, like my safari hat  and walking stick I bought for my Galapagos trip. Despite having spent hundreds of dollars in a failed attempt to look like a super crunchy, organic food eating, nature stud, I have only succeeded in looking like a suburban white guy who gets lost in the local grocery store.  The backpack though is the only REI purchase that I have used for more than 10 minutes and which I actually still like.

The three things I always have in a carry on, no matter where I am or where I go are: Halls cough drops, tissues and a pen.

I have purchased Diet Coke in at least 25 countries, more than water or any other “necessity.”


This has been discussed by many other people, but I have a hard time returning to places I have already been. Life is short and so is my vacation time. I treasure it as Gollum did his ring. In the back of my mind, I know I desperately want to return to Paris, Hawaii and Bangkok. I would even seriously consider living in these places full time. Every time I consider a return trip though, a little voice in the back of my head starts to whisper. I start to worry that if I don’t see some other places now, that I never will and ultimately I can always return to places that I know I like, right? It’s a constant dilemma and while I have started planning my return to Paris and Bangkok many times, it always turns into Madrid or Marrakech. Ultimately, winning the lottery would help solve this dilemma, but I won’t be holding my proverbial or even literal breath for that to happen.


I have a lot of other travel idiosyncrasies, but no need to further alienate readers by revealing the totality of my weirdness at once; mental overload and all.

By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

6 thoughts on “Friday Confessions: My Travel Quirks”

  1. So happy to read this – I’m exactly the same about trip planning! Half the fun (okay, not really half, but a significant amount) of a new trip is planning it! Reading about it, hearing other people’s favorite experiences there, figuring out flights and accommodation while imagining what it will be like once you arrive…like you said, I know some people think it’s silly to do anything but fly by the seat of your pants, but I love planning out a trip.

    If it makes you feel any better about REI, picture this: a woman in a sundress with a floral-print skirt, wearing dressy sandals, wandering around trying on packs with 20-25lbs in them. That was me a few weeks ago, since I made the brilliant decision to go buy a new pack on the way back from having spent the day at the local fair. A family came in to buy new backpacks for school with their three boys, who all looked at me like I had three heads.

    1. Thanks Christy! I too am a member and I really do love going there, always feel out of place though. LOL Next time I’ll go through the store pretending to chat on my cell about hiking K2 or something. :)

  2. I love posts about the oddities we all share — I put up 25 of mine on my site and Facebook a while back and loved the comments. My “Halls cough drops, tissues and a pen” is just one thing… fingernail clippers.

  3. I don’t think these things are really “odd” at all! Everybody travels differently. In my opinion, you can’t travel “wrong” as long as you are actually out there traveling.

    But I did like reading about some of your so-called quirks, because it gives us a better glimpse into who you are and how you travel. Good stuff!

    And, for the record, I like to plan, too! Or, at least read a ridiculous amount about where I’m going before I get there.

  4. I would have to say I am a huge vacation planner. I have always loved to plan just about every minute out because like you said it is so fun. I however for my RTW trip have made my self stop doing that. I am going to have a general route & will work my way through it at a pace that i feel is needed.

    I also am with you on not returning to places I have already been. I think the same exact way, I feel okay Ive been there i can go again when I can plan to go somewhere else, life is too short!

    You have funny but normal travel quirks.

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