Whether you’re nestled in a cozy hotel bar in NW Washington, DC or staggering into a busy Macedonian Hostel escaping the biting Balkan air, you are bound to meet interesting people. One can always recognize fellow foreigners, but who are these folks?
1. The Wandering Soul
Having ascribed to Tolkien’s Wanderers Manifesto, “Not all who wander are lost,” this character is generally what we would regard as over-educated, under-groomed, and displaced among his/her generation. Whether bankrolled by mom and dad or a hefty savings account from yesteryears 9-5, this traveler cuts no corners in exploring where they belong on this rock we call earth. They are commonly seen with their Patagonia backpacks and a host of beaded hemp bracelets in hostels exchanging stories about their 3 months living with Buddhist monks in Bhutan or studying Uighur poetry in an Oxford Extension program. They may have lived an interesting life but they characterize their past as lacking meaning.
2. The Adventurer
Fresh from skydiving in Macau, this traveler will regale you with tales of dipping their toes in life’s rushing waters. The Adventurer doesn’t let life pass them by; rather they grab it by the horns, do a handstand and worry about the consequences later. He/she is a mainstay at international music festivals, wind surfing competitions, and considers the Hash House Harriers as gods amongst men. When you meet an Adventurer ask them about the best place to watch a sunset, odds are that they have already hiked, biked or camped there and experienced such a sight.
3. The Perennial traveler
The perennial traveler is akin to the Wandering Soul in every aspect but want. He/she expects nothing more than to drink in an experience and is more than content with partaking in the local fare and dabbling in linguistic feats before retreating back to the comfort of their inner self to reflect. The perennial traveler is selfish with their experiences because it has become a habit they think no one will understand. They fear sounding aloof to old friends and parochial to new ones. You can spot a perennial traveler by their hermit personality, penchant for bazaars, and propensity to wake to see the sunrise while he/she ferociously pens their thoughts on the leaves of a crumpled Moleskine.
4. Faded Passport Holder
This person has traveled for so long they can’t even tell you the mayor of their hometown. At some point in the not so distant past he/she bought a one-way ticket with no intention of returning. They have the best stories and probably have run out of money a few times but have been fortunate enough to do odd jobs like bar-backing in Berlin or promoting nightclubs in Shibuya. This person could have been, at some point, a Perennial Traveler, and at some point, become a Wandering Soul. He/she has mistaken the Moleskin for their bluebook before approaching immigration control on more than one occasion, on account of them being both tattered from reflective scribbling or entry and exit stamps. This traveler knows that they are teetering on the brink of responsibility, with the full understanding that at some point in the next 100 miles he/she must return home, find a job, and leave the transient lifestyle behind.
5. The Tourist
Any serious traveler loathes the tourist because they see themselves in this camera toting, traveler check-carrying novice. We have all once been this person. He/she is always considering seeing the sights in proximity to the hotel and electing to take the recommendation of the concierge rather than that of the cabbie. The Tourist is an unrefined and primitive observer of culture. Simply whetting their appetite for what could one day become a habit or an outlet. Captivate the tourist, lure them into pushing their limits and busting into the unsettled planes of the world. And if you are a tourist, engage with fellow travelers and lose yourself.
Whether you are embarking on your first overseas experience or have found yourself adding new passport pages, embrace the evolution of your travel experiences. These 5 archetypes of travelers are not to keep you or those you meet in a box but to provide a spectrum of where your travels may take you.
Feature Image Credit: Hypebeast