Travels with Bob

What Travel Style Best Describes You?


Some travelers climb tall mountains to explore ancient civilizations.

Leisure travelers have more choices today than ever before, which can lead to confusion and potentially poor choices when planning a vacation. That’s certainly understandable given the thousands of pages of travel information on the Internet alone. To navigate this maze successfully, it helps if you understand your personal travel style and preferences before you begin.

During the past decade, I have enjoyed working with more than 1,200 leisure travelers and a majority of them demonstrated one of three primary travel styles.

First, there are the Tourists: destination-driven, out to fulfill his or her “Bucket List” and desiring to see as many places in as short a time possible. This person takes hundreds of photos while running from dawn to dusk making sure to see it all. Yet, moving at such a fast pace, tourists risk overlooking many rich local treasures and experiences along the way.

Next, are the Explorers ‒ the clients I describe as “cultural anthropologists” interested learning the history and culture of a city, region or country. This traveler tends to take longer, slower-paced trips. They may focus on personal special interests such as art, music, wine or food, and they usually gain a much richer travel experience by interacting with local citizens along the way. In other words, they are very much “accidental tourists.”

Finally, we have the Adventurers. Their respective Bucket Lists include experiences in addition to destinations; they are risk takers but not reckless; and they travel frequently on shorter trips to exotic, generally off-the-beaten-path, locations. Furthermore, they usually come home with plenty of “bragging rights” describing where they have been or what they have done.

Most of today’s leisure travelers, regardless of their travel style, seek a more personalized or custom experience that can’t be found easily on their own. For instance, leisure travelers usually prefer multiple nights in each locale they visit; they desire down time to relax or explore on their own during land tours; and they enjoy sea days that break up port-intensive cruises.

Your personal travel style most likely fits one of the categories I described earlier. And that’s okay because there is nothing wrong with any of them. In fact, you may be comfortable with any or all three styles depending upon the destination and nature of a particular trip.

To get the most value and the best overall travel experience, however, it’s important to understand your primary travel style and preferences before starting to plan your next journey. You also might consider stepping outside your comfort zone and trying a slightly different travel style the next time you leave home.