10 Types of Travellers You’re Likely to Encounter

11 December 2012

Travelling abroad is an exciting experience. There are places to see, monuments to marvel at and a motley crew of interesting people to meet. Each and every experience differs from the next, but you’re bound to come across at least a few of these colourful characters during your travels.

10 types of travellers

The Backpacker

Usually in their 20s, the backpacker is fond of cheap booze, cheap lodging and turning everything into a drinking game. The priorities of a backpacker include finding the biggest jug of beer there is and as many strangers to share it with as possible. A backpacker diet consists of vending machine snacks, take-out and airline food if they’re lucky.

You’re most likely to find them: Any bar or pub in Europe or booking the cheapest holiday deals they can find

The Spiritualist

These idyllic travellers are on a quest to find themselves by embracing the exotic philosophies of whichever third world country they visit first. They will wander sections of the globe rich in tradition and take part in ancient practices with naive enthusiasm. Constantly on the move in order to make the most of their personal discovery, they refer to their experience as ‘spiritual pampering’. They will return to their home country with what they believe is a new-found understanding of the world, in the form of braided hair and/or a tribal tattoo.

You’re most likely to find them: Egypt, India or on one of the many Peru tours, amidst temples and remote wilderness


The Non-stop Partier

A change of scenery accompanied by lots and lots of booze is all it takes to please this energetic party animal. They’re about having the booze and getting the babes, they know how to scope out the best night spots and they have what it takes to make a party to go right off. Their party-centred mindset dictates their way of life. Lots of fun for the first day, but has the crazy eyes and maybe best to avoid during the ‘off-peak’ hours, i.e. the time they’re spending recovering from a night of serious boozing.
You’re most likely to find them: Passed out in a public fountain


The Everywhere Man

He’s been all over the world and it’s evident that he knows more about your homeland than you do. After an abrupt introduction expect a detailed itinerary of where you need to go, what you should see and which spots you should avoid. Generally much older (and thus ‘wiser’), they speak out of experience, advising you of your ignorance by giving lengthy, irrelevant anecdotes. You’ll listen out of politeness until you realise his monologue has been perfected over time, told and retold to tourists just like you the world over.

You’re most likely to find them: On a safari tour bus on the Northern Circuit of Tanzania, cruising across the Serengeti


The Gapper

We all know the gap year stereotype. As soon as high school’s over they’re the first to sign up to several European tours at the expense of their parents, in a misguided effort to prove their independence. Half the time they will be intoxicated out of their minds, bleary-eyed and unresponsive to most forms of stimuli. With so many people taking gap years before college and full-time work, this hazily outdated stereotype has been overrun by a new generation of gappers. The emerging type is more likely to be middle-class folk with a genuine interest in volunteering abroad. Today’s gappers are generally young and very naive, signing up to volunteer programs with hopes of building a better future for a community in need - hopes which are later crushed upon discovering the state of the developing world.

You’re most likely to find them: Working odd jobs across South America, teaching English in Hong Kong or sweating it out in the rice fields of Nepal


The Non-Traveller

This person spends an absurd amount of time taking photos of every landmark, street sign and coffee cup that enters his camera lens’ line of vision. Any additional time is spent uploading their snaps to every social media site they’ve signed up to. They take special care to come up with clever quips and captions for their photos, most of which they may not even feature in.

You’re most likely to find them: Strapped to their camera, never too far from the crowd


The Dedicated Exchange Student

Under the guise of your average party-going college student, they are usually found face down in an open book. The beverage of choice for these travellers is anything high in sugar and caffeine, so what may look like a hangover is actually the catatonic-like state following a coffee-fuelled cramming session the night before a major exam. They’ll go to the occasional dorm party and drink cheap wine until they can no longer stand, but they’ll get wasted about half as much as they say they do on Facebook. The dedicated exchange student spends most of his or her time scribbling vague notes which they will later be unable to decipher. Like the Backpacker, the student lives off ready-made meals and vending machine food. Hang out with them long enough and you might get in on the student discount.

You’re most likely to find them: Wandering aimlessly around campus


The Empty Nesters

Who says the fun has to end at the ripe old age of 65? The empty nester couple’s only obligation is to themselves. With their kids having left home many moons ago, they’ve saved up and are ready to jet set off on the trip of a lifetime. It’s hard not to underestimate the ambition of these golden-age gaffers. They’re less likely to be found resting easy on a beach off the coast of Vanuatu than they are to be spotted hiking the slopes of Mount Elbert.

You’re most likely to find them: Skiing in Switzerland or hiking the redwood forests of Northern California


The Lone Nomad

Travelling solo is an experience like no other, according to the lone nomad. They spend much of their time seeking a fulfilling, mind-body-soul experience and will venture far and wide for the ‘fix’ that will transform them from the ordinary to the extraordinary. Usually creatives, they’ll soak in the culture and atmosphere of their destination and convey their experiences through music, painting or other such art.

You’re most likely to find them: Ikat weaving in Cambodia


The Loved-Up Young Couple

None is more nauseatingly unavoidable than these travelling young lovers. They will be everywhere together, do everything together and never leave each other’s sight. So engrossed in one another, you may never actually meet them but you’ll definitely encounter them because every beach and mountain trek tour comes with a token loved-up couple.

You’re most likely to find them: Canoodling on a hammock in Bora Bora.


With thanks to Paolo Margari for the Travellers image.