One of my favorite parts about traveling is meeting all of the other characters out there on the road. When I got to South America I learned that there were as many types of travelers as there were types of potatoes: a shit ton. Everyone had their own reasons for facing the big scary world and no two travelers were exactly the same. This list is a tribute to all those road warriors out there exploring this wonderful planet: past, present and future. But, before I get bitched out, take notice that these aren’t mutually exclusive. Most people are a ‘mutt’ when it comes to these ‘motivations’ for traveling.
The Eternal Vagabond
‘How long have you been traveling?’
‘Dang, when are you going home?’
‘Eh, no plans yet.’
Yeah, those people do exist. They say not all who wander are lost but with these guys you are very tempted to ask, ‘You lost bro?’ For whatever their reason, some people just set out one day and never go back; like a traveling juggernaut. Yeah… I like that.
If the world is a book, then to these people it is a very sad one (UNICEF commercial sad, not Notebook sad). But, fortunately, it is one they want to help write the end to. Compared to where they come from the rest of the world has a hard life and through their services and goodwill they want to better the lives of those less fortunate.
Life’s a party, but these folks know that the party lasts a lot longer where the drinks are cheaper, drugs are more prevalent (and cheaper) and the opposite sex thinks you are exotic. They are usually the ones pissing off locals, waking up the hostel when they return from the clubs, and, generally, adding to negative stereotypes of travelers and their country (no need to get stuck in a vagina sculpture). But hey, YOLO.
No, I didn’t spell expatriate wrong. This is a completely different person altogether. This is that guy who is always posting about how much their country sucks. The guy that sets off to find that perfect nation that just ‘gets it’; where he was supposed to be from. When you meet said ex-patriot, be prepared for long explanations about how terrible his culture (or lack there of) is and why (enter current location) is so much better.
If there are ex-patriots then you can bet your ass there are patriots… stereotypically, American ones. For some reason they have got it in their head that the rest of the world forgot how great we were, so, they took it upon themselves to become self proclaimed ambassadors or ‘missionaries’ if you will. When they aren’t telling locals how things ‘should’ be done, they can be seen taking pictures with their ever-handy American flag in a form of symbolic imperialism. ‘Merica.
The Fun Lover
Traveling is fun for many reasons, and these people know it. And as fortunate as it is, it makes for a pretty boring description. So just keep on keeping on.
This traveler never fully blooms until they return home. Though they will never admit it, their jeers and jests will lead you to believe that their sole purpose for traveling… was to come back and rub it in your face. If you don’t catch on from their snide remarks or constant reminders of ‘how they do it in Paris’, maybe you will notice the constant smell of disdain that follows them around constantly. Consider yourself lucky, maybe some of their ‘culturedness’ will rub off on you. That’s kind of like a free trip right?
If you like extreme sports and are constantly looking for the next thrill, then maybe it is time you level up and join this motley crew. Travel to lands where safety regulations and litigious threats haven’t stolen the wind from the sails of adventure activities. Whether it is jumping off high objects or rafting white waters, nothing makes it more exciting than having the instructions yelled at you in a language (or even an accent) that you just don’t understand.
Upon seeing the Outdoorsmen your first inclination will be to scoff; obviously they didn’t follow the number one rule Rick Steve, Frommer and Lonely Planet emphasize over and over: pack light. But your judgment quickly melts away as you watch them pull a house, kitchenette and overly functional toys out from their bottomless pack. They are heading off into the remote wilderness of that place you already thought was wild. Cultural delicacies be damned, freeze-dried goods will do them just fine.
This doesn’t have to be your whole purpose for traveling but dammit it better be part of it! The culinary diversity in this world is motivation enough for some to embark across the globe. Nothing is off limits for the foodie as they find adventure and pleasure in tasting delicacies from the streets to the white tablecloths and everything in between.
The New Rich
If you have read 4-Hour Work Week then you know I totally stole this term. But I couldn’t leave this out because I love the concept. More and more you will find these assholes (and I call them this out of pure jealousy… nothing more) gallivanting around the globe as they work from, well, anywhere they please. Working remotely is where it is at if you have the skills and negotiating abilities to swing it. The world becomes your office.
The Lost Soul
We all feel it; stirring beneath the surface is a yearning for something more, something meaningful… a purpose. If you feel it, and have yet to find it, then maybe you should look in a different spot. Makes sense right? Maybe out there in this great big world you can find the answers you seek; or at least figure out what the hell you are even asking. Oh, and if you do, be sure to share in the comment section below.
Some people say they love to travel but what they mean is ‘I love to sit on beaches while the cabana boy fetches me margaritas.’ As enjoyable as that may be I, personally, view vacationing and traveling as very different beasts. The only reason I am including this section is because some people have went to great lengths to disguise their vacations as traveling… by going from beach to beach to beach to…
Aw yes, don’t think I forgot about you grandma and grandpa! Nothing is more exciting than watching the greatest generation cash in on their deferred life plans in all its glory. Elderly couples, widows and swingers all congregate at the tour buses to live out the fantasies of their youth. This is it; a lifetime of hard work has lead to this last stab at true freedom by being guided around on a strict itinerary. Just make sure you don’t forget any of the essentials: fanny pack, visor, Fit-Over sunglasses, comfortable walking shoes, Bengay and, of course, the pillbox.
Did I miss any? Be sure to leave an indignant comment below.