What Your Travel Bag Says About You
If you're looking for some lavish generalisations classifying travellers into neat stereotypes, by George, have you come to the right place. Pour yourself a cup of tea, settle back and relax as we take you on a smug, self-satisfied traveller's journey through that fascinating group of people – other travellers.
New travel pack with day pack attached = travel newbie
You're a newbie to this travel gig but you're willing to give it a go. You've done your reading and you have the right travelling gear. There's a microfibre towel, a pegless clothesline and teeny-tiny torch packed in that bag, ready for action. And your phone is loaded with an international SIM so you can WhatsApp your mum every day.
Now it's just a matter of seeing how you cope out there in the big world on your own. When you step out of the airport, your wide eyes will give you away as an easy target. But you're tougher than that. You stride confidently past the taxi hasslers to the local bus stop and give yourself a mental high five for ballsy travel achievement number one. Go get 'em, kid!
Your ideal trip: Thailand. Northern Thailand for the culture, southern Thailand for the beaches. Nothing too tough but a genuine other-culture-and-way-of-life travelling experience.
Sports or cargo bag with a logo = travel slacker
You haven't put a lot of thought into your trip. In fact, someone else probably booked it for you. Your mum / friend / insignificant other probably researched it, chatted with you about it while you didn't pay attention and then booked the whole thing. And you don't appreciate it – but hey, they WANTED to do it, right?
While you're on the road in the developing world, you'll inappropriately take photos of poor grandmas in the street without asking them, and eat a salad and be surprised that you have to spend the night hovering near the loo with dacks at half mast.
You're keen to try everything – sample some bugs, go animal tracking or raft down a river – but at some point enough will be enough, and you'll want to get back home to your comfy sofa and Xbox.
Your ideal trip: USA cities and national parks – you get to go to a lot of places you've seen on the telly, eat some top-notch fries, casino hop in Vegas, plus burn some energy hiking in the beautiful parks.
Wheelie suitcase in a Japanese-print pattern (with matching carry on) = precious traveller
You are reasonably meticulous about your belongings and appearance. Your bag is bulging with outfit options and you couldn't help throwing in a pair of heels – just in case. You have quite a serious set of medicines to cover all health eventualities. And there's definitely a hair straightener in that bag.
When you're on the road, you won't try the fish-head soup or take a sip of the local home brew. You are quite vocal about insufficient hygiene levels in your hotel bathroom. You do enjoy some things – exploring temples and museums, chatting with the locals and wandering the craft markets. And you've got the heavy-weight bartering skills of a Turkish rug salesman when you see a souvenir that you want.
Your ideal trip: A fancy resort would suit you nicely but if your friends pressure you, you're willing to push your limits on a tour of Vietnam – as long as airport transfers are pre-booked and air conditioned. And no one tries to make you eat lunch while squatting on the footpath.
Old canvas hiking pack = mountain man (slash woman)
You're an outdoorsy type and you don't mind if everyone knows it. Your clothes are rolled and stuffed in that bag, and there's not too many of them. Some quick-dry pants and a pair of boots are the answer to most fashion questions.
Your trip might not be hard-core enough for you, so there will be plenty of talk around the dinner table about tougher times you've had – like that time you were halfway up some snowy peak when the weather closed in and you almost didn't make it off the mountain. (But the story is delivered in a low-key monotone, so you know this isn't the hardest that hard-core gets.)
You go hard at every challenge – whether it's learning to weave like a local or scaling a smoking volcano in a thunderstorm.
Cheap suitcase missing a wheel = easy-going traveller
You love to travel but you're not that fussy, in holidays or in life. As long as the zip holds on that bag, it'll do fine. It fits your stuff in – there's some warm clothes, some cool clothes and the book you're reading. And probably some other stuff, too. But maybe not. Whatevs.
You'll eat anything that's put in front of you (Steamed offal with no condiments? Yes, please). You'll sleep anywhere, put your feet up on anything stationary and generally roll with whatever punches the world throws at you.
The downside of being this free-n-easy is that you might well stagnate if no one suggests the next thing for you to do. You could end up spending months in a sleepy backwater. The upside is you'll try anything that's on offer. Bungee jump? Haven't thought about it but might as well give it a go. Yolo, eh?
Your ideal trip: A full exploration of India – you can cross legs with yogis, hike in the mountains, burn your mouth on hot curries and sleep among the locals on the train.
Well-worn travel pack with travel-themed quirky dangly tags = travel bragger
You're an experienced traveller and you love a new adventure. You are constantly connected to the world through your phone, which is never far from your hand as you scroll through maps, restaurant reviews, your jet-lag manager and your international clock (the clock is to make sure your next Instagram post is timed for the best response back home).
You've travelled a lot and you like to meet new people. You play it for adorable but the gloss wears off kind of quickly – you are way too vocal with your opinions. You review everything with lengthy descriptions on TripAdvisor. And you've already been everywhere, but bigger than the other person. And you finish other people's sentences (... other people's sentences).
Your ideal trip: Slovenia and Croatia – beautiful natural environments, stunning cities, great food. (Plus, everyone wants to go but not everyone has been, so you are in prime position to tell everyone aaaaaall about it.)
Day pack = smug experienced traveller
You've travelled a lot, enough to know that baggage is a pain in the neck to cart around. You don't have a guide book. In fact, you don't have much at all in that bag – just a T-shirt, a toothbrush and a battered Sigg water bottle. And there's nowhere near an appropriate number of undies in there (FYI – inside out does NOT equal a clean pair).
You differentiate between tourists and travellers. You are pretty confident that you are a better (more authentic, more experienced) traveller than most of the people around you. You try to learn the language and don't hesitate to ask the locals to teach you to sow rice in a paddy field with them. (Don't even worry that it's their backbreaking labour every day, and they probably can't be bothered pandering to the quirky whims of a tourist. Yeah, that's right, we called you you a TOURIST.) You love being on the road but you'd like it better without the other travellers.
Your ideal trip: Two months overlanding across Africa. Hopefully with some obstacles thrown in.
Hybrid travel pack on wheels = uber-organised traveller
You have a particular place for everything in that bag. Shoes wrapped in a sturdy plastic bag for protection. The correct amount of shampoo for the number of hair-wash days you'll be away for. Hand sanitiser in an easily accessible pocket. And there is 20 per cent of empty space in your bag – to be prepared for things bought while on the road.
You've travelled enough to know what you like when you travel. Your trip is tightly scheduled and organised, you researched everything online and chose carefully, with special consideration going into flight times, itinerary and level of activity. So 3.30pm hotel check in; 5pm city orientation walking tour; 7pm dinner at place with local character ... you got this trip nailed, baby, you're killing it (maybe, actually, killing it a little bit too much).
Your ideal trip: A city-hopping tour of Europe, ticking all the must-see boxes.
Hard shell wheelie suitcase = business traveller
More accustomed to business travel, you're likely to be in the airport lounge with a pinot gris prior to take-off. You just might have a polo shirt in that bag of yours, folded neatly under your toiletries bag (which holds a rather nice bottled scent). There are also quite a lot of chargers in there.
You're willing to go to a developing country, but you won't be compromising your standards too much – the best hotels and taxi travel around town will suit you just fine. You want to experience the world, but you don't quite let go of home, either – keeping in touch with work, the stock market and world news each day takes up a fair bit of time (dude, are you even on holiday?).
Your ideal trip: Mexico, where you can explore busy cities, visit ancient cultural sites and still recline with a cocktail by the resort pool in the late afternoon.
Normal bag = normal traveller
You are a normal person with a normal bag of stuff and a normal approach to travel and life. Hey, wait a minute! This one's you!
Pictures: Getty Images
Talk to us for loads of travel bag advice and travel inspiration.