Why is it so hard to find a fitting travel partner? Someone with a similar rhythm, who’ll be interested in seeing the same things. First of all, it’s important to know what YOU expect from a trip. To help you, here are (really just some of) the different types of travellers you might meet on your travels. Of course, identities are forever flowing. Therefore, it’s possible that you fit into several of these different types of tourists at the same time – or according to your mood of the day.
Isn’t it surprising how two people might come back from the same destination and tell a completely different story? They had different activities, different experiences; they came back with different learnings, a different opinion of the place and its people.
Or we travel for the first time with our best friend, thinking we’ll love spending quality time together; and everything goes awry. That’s when we realise it’s easier and more fun to travel with someone we don’t know but shares the same travel interests than with a close friend with opposite travel reasons. Which leads us to the old question…
The difference we make between Tourists and Travellers
This ongoing debate drives some of us nervous, as we feel part of one category or the other. Or maybe it’s not a debate and we should just stop categorising people. But if you asked Green Mochila whether we consider ourselves “tourists” or “travellers”, this is what we would say.
In our limited worldview, a tourist is more interested in the sights, a traveller is more interested in the place.
A tourist might be abroad but in their head they’re still home; maybe wondering which story they’ll tell their friends and what people will think of their photos. They probably have a bucket list and they treat their trip as a box-ticking activity.
A traveller isn’t really abroad, they’re at someone else’s home. They want to blend in completely and understand deeply what they see, the people they meet – although that is impossible. They take photos for the memories and they don’t have stories but experiences.
As for us, we’re more interested in the place. But it doesn’t matter what name you give yourself, even less so what name others give you. So listen up all you travelers, tourists, visitors, wanderers, trippers, excursionists and roamers out there: just experiment and find out new destinations and new ways to explore the world!
Whether tourists or travellers, we’ll all have to change the way we travel. Here’s why.
1) Adventure travellers
These thrill seekers certainly don’t travel to rest! They’re in it for the physical experience and the adrenaline. They want to feel lost or to feel they’re pushing their limits.
But you must differentiate these travellers to those who go on a zipline over a canyon because it’s trendy. Adventure travellers feel alive where it’s uncomfortable, rough and off-the-beaten path.
Adventure travellers aren’t social animals. They’d be better off camping in the jungle than listening to your travel stories on a hostel couch. They only came back to indulge in a hot shower or catch a bus to someplace you’ve never heard of.
If they hear of a difficult hike or an abandoned mine, they might add these adventures to their travel. Or maybe a specific place or experience has been tickling them and they’ve organised their trip around it.
|If you’re in search of:||adrenaline, sensations, risk, unexpectedness|
|Might be interested in:||hiking Choquequirao in Peru|
2) All-inclusive travellers / Cruise travellers
This type of tourist is probably the Adventurers’ pet peeve. Don’t tell them about hiking: they go on holidays to relax and be comfortable. A visit to the local market is fine as long as it’s part of the planned route. Yes to discoveries, but without the hassle of planning their own trip. Then when an all-inclusive traveller takes a tour at sea, it’s most likely on a cruise.
‘All-inclusive’ doesn’t mean ‘farniente’ though. Actually, some might want their tour to be chockablock from dawn till dusk; as long as they know where they’re sleeping at night. They merely want to feel safe and have their mind at ease and are ready to pay for that.
It might sound very clean and vouched for but don’t underestimate these tourists’ interest for the places they visit. They’re learning the whole story while you’re busy booking your next Air Bnb. Nowadays, there’s enough choice in tours to satisfy all types of trips and interests.
|If you’re in search of:||comfort, security, peace of mind|
|Might be interested in:||our itinerary for Argentina|
3) Budget travellers / Backpackers
Those stingy budget travellers want to see as much as they can while spending the least possible. They believe that a small budget shouldn’t hinder anyone from travelling.
Budget travellers don’t shy away from complicated routes, long rides on bumpy transportation, rundown eateries and squalid accommodation if that allows them to travel longer and further. They usually believe –they have to– that all this is part of an unforgettable experience.
They most likely follow these tips to travel more often. Sometimes, they do have to splurge in order to see an unmissable landmark; but they’ll search hard for the cheapest way to do it. Not all budget travellers carry a dusty backpack but most backpackers are probably budget travellers.
|If you’re in search of:||cheap thrills, dirty roads, worker’s meal|
|Might be interested in:||camping in Tayrona Park, Colombia|
4) Luxury travellers
In the meantime, luxury travellers scoff at them, sipping on a cocktail by the pool. Why would you hitchhike to some ramshackle hostel when you can rent a yacht.
If many luxury travellers are attracted to farniente and all-inclusive holidays, some can also be spontaneous and active. They want to experience the best of what the world has to give and are ready to pay the price for it.
Their budget allows them to go to places and do activities that are inaccessible to others. Therefore, they have unique experiences. They just need to understand that hitchhiking to some ramshackle hostel is as unique an experience as flying over Antarctica on a helicopter.
|If you’re in search of:||comfort, expensive treats and food|
|Might be interested in:||these wonderful Colombian beaches|
5) Cultural travellers
This type travels to learn. They might be attracted to art, history, local craftmanship or a healthy blend of it all. They’ll stay hours in museums, enter every art gallery they pass by and spend their evenings looking up the facts. Or maybe they’re foodies, trying out everything on the menu.
Cultural travellers might not be interested so much in the physical experience; although attending a folklore dance workshop or an ayahuasca retreat is probably on their list. Their understanding of the countries they visit is often rational and elitist. They can end up knowing the country’s painters and poets better than the locals.
A peculiar type of cultural travel is worth mentioning here: dark tourism. That’s the interest in places where History has brought death and tragedy. Although he might also be looking for the thrill of the experience –and therefore some sort of adventure travel– the dark tourist wants to capture the historical value of the place.
|If you’re in search of:||diversity, knowledge, facts|
|Might be interested in:||these festivals in Brazil|
6) Medical travellers
We’re not talking about Médecins Sans Frontières here. Medical travellers are patients looking to get a healthcare intervention. This can be surgery, plastic surgery or a dentistry intervention.
There are opposite reasons for medical travel. Residents of a rich country might go to a poorer one in order to get cheaper healthcare. But people can also travel to get a treatment that simply doesn’t exist in their home country. Or that is better rated elsewhere, or easier to get.
Those who can afford it could even travel to get an abortion, coming from a country where it’s still illegal. In that case as in others, they’ll need to stay several weeks in that place. You definitely won’t see them roaming in the lounge of your youth hostel.
|If you’re in search of:||cheap treatment, a new nose|
|Might be interested in:||knowing the benefits of yerba mate|
7) Party travellers
Those will probably be squatting the hostel dorm or their Air Bnb! Party travellers, for the most part, are not here to get to know the place or have local experiences. Besides trying out the national drinks, that is. They didn’t come to revel in the luxuriant nature but they’re rather attracted to another kind of fauna.
Don’t ask this group of travelers for their best travel memory; they’ll be lucky if they remember where they left their shoes. Having said that, some naturally combine partying with a more genuine approach to travelling. Our friend Eli, over at thepartyingtraveler.com, is a great example.
Party travels include of course the bachelor parties that invade otherwise peaceful regions of Central America and Eastern Europe. But also festival-goers who are ready to take the plane for an event – more about them in the next part.
|If you’re in search of:||fun, making friends, dancing|
|Might be interested in:||spending time in Valparaíso, Chile|
8) City-hoppers, Weekenders / Event travellers
Two or three days off? Let’s hop on a plane and discover somewhere new! A weekend away, preferably abroad, is for these peeps the best way to enjoy their weekend.
They might be pushed by the unrelenting urge to tick boxes off their bucket list. But that doesn’t mean these travellers aren’t genuinely interested in the place they visit. It’s just that they don’t have much time to dig deep. But with potentially 52 weekends in a year, they’ll have occasions to go back.
We include in this category event travellers, who are ready to take the plane for their favourite festival or convention, for an art exhibition (cultural travellers) or for an important sports game (sports tourists). This type of traveler also includes the number 12 from our list.
|If you’re in search of:||quick change of scenery, making the most of your time|
|Might be interested in:||our list of travel essentials|
9) Long-term travellers
At the opposite end of the spectrum, long-time travellers give their time as an offering to the goddess Travel. We’re talking 6 months plus here. Of course, that requires to be flexible and passionate about discovering. And not scared to face yourself and sometimes feel lonely, tired, disoriented.
Long-term travellers can be digital nomads or students on a gap year. Or anyone who’s had enough of working for the man and decides to take some time off. Some might be wealthy enough to sustain themselves throughout; others will pause their trip somewhere to make some money before hitting the road again.
Are you a digital nomad yourself? Find the best cities for you in South America.
Don’t expect long-term travellers to be particularly friendly. They’ve “been there, done that” and you haven’t. Because their life is on the road, at least for a while, they usually have a very consistent routine.
|If you’re in search of:||travel lifestyle, immersion, challenging yourself|
|Might be interested in:||backpacking all across South America|
10) Domestic travellers
This group of travellers have no interest in exoticism. They love their country (let’s not get political) and they want to explore every corner of it. Why take the plane to faraway lands when there’s so much beauty behind the hill? So much variety within our borders?
These national travellers might or might not go back to the same place several times. But every time, they see it differently, explore a new corner, admire it from a new angle. Their fascination for this tiny piece of land is endless.
They will give you a ride if they see you hitchhiking and they’ll share their passion with you. You’ll learn from them, about the place, about the country, more than you could have imagined. In the end, they will almost convince you to come back another time. But the world is big, too big, and it’s calling your name.
|If you’re in search of:||thorough exploration, familiar culture, slow travel|
|Might be interested in:||our hitchhiking adventure in Argentina|
11) Business travellers
There’s not much to explain when it comes to business travels. Your company (or your freelancing activity) requires you somewhere, you go. I’ll be honest, as much as I love travelling, I would hate it if had to travel.
Funny to think that business trips were the first widespread form of travel. Think ‘Business Class’ on planes. Nowadays, technology has reduced the need for them. But there’s still a network of salespeople, market workers, technicians, truck drivers, etc. who must spend time on the road. Shout-out to musicians and comedians who tire themselves on tour with no time whatsoever to see the towns.
You probably won’t chat up business travellers at your lobby. Their hotel room is paid for and they’re not here to chit-chat; they’re looking forward to going home.
|If you’re in search of:||getting the job done|
|Might be interested in:||the largest outdoor market in Latin America|
12) Shopping travellers
Honestly, that’s really one type of tourist I could never understand. Unless you’re just crossing the border to buy cheaper smokes and booze, that is. It’s not exactly ‘travel’ though, more like ‘contraband’.
Why should you cross an ocean to buy a pair of trousers you could find just as easily online? Is there any advantage I’m missing at doing window-shopping in another country, if you have to buy a plane ticket?
If you’re a shopping traveller, feel free to tell me your reasons in the comment section at the bottom of this post. I’ll be happy to finally understand what’s up.
13) Nature / Wildlife travellers
Nature tourists would well agree with the #10 on our list, since all they need is a bowl of fresh air (excuse my French). They feel alive, rejuvenated, when they spend a day or more in nature. Be it treading a forest path, hiking a rocky mountain or crossing fields. Blimey, if their bones let them, they might even wildcamp! You can also call them rural tourists, they won’t mind.
Let’s be honest, wildlife tourists are not interested so much in nature as in animals. Preferably, exotic animals. No one’s ever done a safari to take photos of the African grass. This bunch can be dangerous if they’re not educated. But all in all, they just want to feel like children again, with sparkles in their eyes. In a way, wildlife travellers are all-inclusive tourists with an itch for nature.
|If you’re in search of:||nature sites, fresh air, peacefulness, exertion|
|Might be interested in:||trekking around Bariloche, Argentina|
14) Solo travellers
And if maybe, you weren’t able to find the right travel companion simply because you’re a solo traveller at heart? If you’ve already travelled with different types of tourists and were never convinced; or if you’ve grimaced at every single description in this article; maybe you’re just better off discovering on your own.
In that case, just embrace it. There’s a myriad of advantages that counterbalance the loneliness. Solo travellers can be very sociable and even go on excursions with people they randomly meet. In fact, it’s easier for them to create connections since they have no one to talk to but their smartphone.
Solo travel is also the best way I know of to get to know thyself. By getting out of your comfort zone and facing unpredicted situations, you’re bound to go back home with a broader understanding of the person you’re meant to be.
|If you’re in search of:||independence, self-discovery, challenging yourself|
|Might be interested in:||brushing up on your Spanish|
At the end of the day, which type of traveller are you and why?
Share your experience with us in the comments section below!
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