What Sort Of Traveller Are You ?

A bore who's done everything first, or a truly great and eccentric explorer - which of these 10 types of traveller best describes you?


A sophisticated hunter-gatherer, a hoarder of the exceptional and exotic. Not, however, of endangered species or looted antiquities. He or she travels with a purely metaphorical blunderbuss or bullwhip - or, rather, butterfly net, swishing it this way and that in order to gather up uncommon experiences in out-of-the-way places. Once caught, these are meticulously pinned in memory and proudly displayed in conversation. Like an actual scientist, The Collector delights in the poetry and precision of proper names ('You haven't really lived until you've seen the Orionids meteor shower in the night sky over Pisco Elqui in October…').


A dreary universal type. The Conformist travels not for personal satisfaction but for social acceptance - perhaps even finds personal satisfaction in social acceptance. Destinations are chosen from a limited, unimaginative, class-determined table d'hôte menu. This is by no means a toffs-only snob thing. It applies across the social spectrum. The Conformist can be spotted from Magaluf to Megève. The point isn't where you've been but what your peers think about where you've been.


Not so much of the adventure-sports variety, though of course there's no shortage of nincompoops willing to tie their ankles to a rubber band and leap off a bridge or whatever. As with The Conformist, The Thrill-Seeker exists along a continuum - one that runs from the ticket-purchasing slum-tourist or frequenter of dodgy-looking dive bars to the professional war correspondent. The Thrill-Seeker is not altogether unlike…


Fugitive from the familiar. An intriguing type, labouring under that most delightful of delusions, namely, that anything at all - boredom, worry, heartbreak, guilt, fear, failure, conflict, one's own reflection in the mirror - can be lost with distance. Alas, it cannot. Yet it always seems worth a try.


Admirable if a little dull. Up early, out late, cheerfully making the most of everything a new place has to offer. Tremendous stamina. Sensible shoes. Likely to do a lot of research beforehand, to pack a lot of books and to return with even more. A second cousin of…


Follower of trails, visitor of shrines - religious and otherwise. The most devoted Pilgrims I have ever seen were not at Lourdes or on the banks of the Ganges but at Beatrix Potter's old house, Hill Top, in Cumbria. But that was ages ago. These days certain shopping streets and malls seem to exert a similar fascination. I recently played a round of golf in Norway and afterwards bought my three companions beer and waffles at the clubhouse. The teenage girl tending the bar clearly knew her way around a waffle iron but seemed to me far too young to be serving alcohol. I asked her how she planned to spend the money she was earning. 'In London,' she said, beaming. 'At Westfield.' Which of the two Westfields? 'The Stratford one. It's bigger.'


Almost extinct in the wild. Like most endangered species, The Pioneer is running out of habitat, since so much of the world has been pioneered already. In a lounge at Changi Airport the other day I had occasion to wonder whether The Pioneers of today are not great, fearless, eccentric explorers of the Vasco da Gama or Wilfred Thesiger variety but grey-faced men in suits opening up obscure business ventures in (I don't know) parts of China where there are cities that you and I have never heard of with populations of four or five or six million people. I'm afraid I'm automatically suspicious of business travellers, a reaction probably born of a combination of ignorance and the jealous assumption that they're likely to become insanely rich through their nefarious trade-related missions. I try to remind myself that Marco Polo was basically a business traveller, as well as a true Pioneer and a stand-up guy.


There for a reason - an event, a honeymoon, a do, a football match. Half-sibling to…


The saddest type of traveller. The one not paying attention, not remotely interested in where he or she is. I was shocked, many years ago, to hear someone ask Ruth Prawer Jhabvala about her fabulously glamorous life as a celebrated novelist and screenwriter responsible for several wildly successful Merchant-Ivory movies. 'Most of the time I don't even bother to look up and see where I am,' she drawled from behind a pair of enormous sunglasses, or words to that effect. I was floored. 'Room with a View' indeed.


Eyes, ears, mind all wide open. Rare and precious and beautiful.


First published in CN Traveller by Steven King

Photo credit Joshua Earle Unsplash

By Marija Banic

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