In spite of what Instagram may lead us to believe, nothing in this world is perfect. There are no perfect people, places or even experiences. Just like any aspect in life, travel mimics that imperfection in nearly every way, many times serving as a mirror to our own unique personalities. Even those of us who consider travel to be their jobs have not mastered the art and science of seeing the world, and anyone who says differently is lying. That’s part of the fun though in the travel experience, the unknown and the unexpected, especially when balanced with our own quirks. Throughout any trip I can relate to most of these unusual travel types, and I’m pretty sure most of you can as well. We all like to pretend we’re that great intrepid traveler, but even those folks have their issues. Today I want to share these unconventional travel types not just to add a bit of levity to the site, but to show that none of us are perfect and that even though I travel professionally, I still make plenty of mistakes. That’s ok though, it shouldn’t deter anyone from exploring more of the world and to start enjoying the benefits that only leaving home once in a while can provide.
ENTJ. That’s my Myers-Briggs score and it honestly hasn’t changed since the first time I took it about 20 years ago. I have changed though, I can feel it. When I was 22 I was out of control hyper most of the time, extroverted to the extreme I even began to annoy myself. Over the years I’ve mellowed and while those extroverted ways are still there – I can and will talk to anyone anywhere – my own natural inclination has shifted. Instead I seek out more alone time, I prefer not to talk to the person sitting next to me on a plane and at parties I gravitate towards friends instead of strangers. I wrote about introverted extroverts last year and since then have received a flood of messages from people all around the world who can relate to this way of interacting with the world. In the travel context it can add some challenges though but as long as we understand that fact, then we should be fine. When traveling it’s important to leave our little group and engage with others as much as possible. Chat with local shop owners or waiters and join a walking tour to meet other visitors. I’m partial towards food tours and they’re a good way to experience a new city as well as meet some new folks. We tend to wall ourselves off too much when we travel, so take stock of that fact and figure out ways to work around it.
I first wrote about this five years ago and since then a whole host of bloggers have added their own experiences, clearly demonstrating that I’m not alone in feeling this way. So, what is a traveling homebody? Well, it’s odd really, but to put it succinctly whenever I’m at home I’m eager to leave on my next trip but whenever I’m traveling I yearn to be in the safe confines of my home. I have a house, dogs, I shop at Costco and PetSmart and, in general, I have a fairly normal suburban life. I also travel about a third of the year, visiting a variety of different countries on most of the continents. That’s a strange balancing act to be honest and while my job enables me to work from anywhere in the world and to even be nomadic, I need time at home for any number of reasons. I need time to work, but I also need to mentally recharge and only home can provide that. Don’t let being a homebody though limit your travels though. Growing up, my mother was a homebody and never wanted to travel anywhere ever because she thought she’d miss home too much. I think she was wrong and the result was that she’s never been anywhere and I deeply resent her for not providing me with travel experiences when I was younger. If you think you won’t enjoy being away from home, give it a try and see what happens. Plan a long weekend an easy flight or drive away, build up to it. There’s nothing I enjoy more than flying to far away and hard to reach places, but what I enjoy just as much is that feeling of walking in through the front door of my house.
Active Lazy Traveler
This is a somewhat amorphous concept that I intend to devote an entire post to, but for now let me just lay out the basics. There is a school of thought that in our day-to-day lives we fill our schedules with activities that keep us busy but which really aren’t very important. Phone calls, petty projects and other time fillers take away from doing things that are really important. This is called active laziness, since you’re busy but you’re also accomplishing nothing. I believe that this seeps into the travel experience much more often than any of us realize. Every place on the planet that attracts tourists has what I call a circuit, a collection of places and experiences that most tourists do. When we arrive, we tend to fall into the circuit, completing each one before leaving for home. We turn our brains off, let others do the thinking and in the process miss a lot of what makes the destination so special. You don’t even have to join a tour for this to happen, the same collection of activities is repeated everywhere from walking tours to guide books to even blogs. It’s a cycle of inaction that feeds on itself constantly. What is key then for us as travelers is to first recognize that this happens and then seek to break the cycle. Sure, when you’re in Paris you should see the Eiffel Tower. But then do something not in a guidebook or on a blog. Grab a picnic lunch and head to one of the many city parks NOT featured on Instagram. Rent a bike, choose a direction and see what happens. It’s by choosing the unconventional that we switch our brains back on and more fully engage with the travel experience.
Anxious & Obsessive
I’ve always been a very high-strung, Type-A kind of person but in recent years it seems to have become a little worse. I’m not sure why aging would accentuate this intensely annoying personality trait, but it has and it’s meant that I’ve had to find ways to deal with it. I’ve also written about this in the past and, as with the other traits, also received many great comments commiserating with me. So, again, I know I’m not alone but if not managed properly this one in particular can absolutely ruin the travel experience. The greatest risk is overplanning. We tend to put so much pressure on ourselves to enjoy the perfect vacation that we many times become our own worst enemies. Either we overplan to the point of exhaustion, or we stress about details we can’t change. Worst of all though we take everything too seriously. Travel is a messy experience full of unexpected moments. That’s essentially the nightmare scenario for someone who is too sensitive, too anxious and too obsessive. But that’s the point, travel helps us overcome these issues and to frankly lighten up. That’s the biggest take away here, to just relax and let things happen. It’s hard at first, but it gets easier and the net positive effects will permeate every aspect of your life.
My blog has seen a lot of changes over the years, usually reflecting how my own travel style has slowly evolved. From budget to luxury, from adventure to, well, not so adventurous, no matter what, my writing has always been a direct reflection of how I like to travel at that very specific moment in time. I was reminded of these changes recently on a trip and it made me start to think about how I have changed over the years. I really did used to be an adventure traveler, but age, injury and shifting interests have all conspired to create who I am today – someone in between adventurous pursuits and a person who also enjoys the quieter side of life. Regardless of those natural proclivities, one thing I always try to do when I travel is to push myself. I try to get out of my comfort zone whenever I can because I know that it’s only by being slightly uncomfortable at times that we learn and grow from the travel experience. We become more self-assured, stronger and overall better people when we push the envelope. At home I would avoid a 5-foot ladder, but on a trip I’ll try anything from bungee to zip-lines. For some reason travel emboldens me, and for that I am incredibly grateful.
What are some other unusual travel types you’d add to this list?