When you clicked on this link, you may have thought it was a quiz to determine what kind of traveler you are.
Man, I’m a sucker for those quizzes. My friends post them on Facebook, and I click on them every time. I can’t make it through the rest of my day before finding out which character from Gilmore Girls or which brand of bottled water I am!
Sorry, though, this isn’t a quiz.
I’ve shared my insecurities about my identity as a traveler on this blog before. For example, I admitted that I’m self-conscious about my transition from being a female solo traveler to being a married woman voyaging with her husband.
When it comes to travel … Sometimes, I feel like I’m doing it wrong. After reading great travel blogs, scrolling through fellow nomads’ Instagram photos, and hearing friends’ stories, I can’t help but think that I don’t fit any of the “traveler stereotypes.”
The word “stereotype” has a negative connotation. I have nothing against people who fit that description. Let’s say … I don’t fit my image of an “ideal traveler.”
I don’t party very much. So many people who move abroad are young, carefree, and want to get plastered regularly. I was definitely that way in college (sorry, Mom and Dad!), but not so much anymore. When I go out with friends, I probably won’t stay out past 1:00 A.M. And I definitely don’t drink as frequently.
The night before my 25th birthday, I went out with friends and got drunk. The next day, I threw up for the first time (soberly) since I was eight. On the day of my 25th birthday. The universe is telling me I’m getting old.
I’m not outdoors all the time. I have so many friends who spend their vacations backpacking, weekends kayaking, and afternoons walking outside. I love all those things, but I also really love my air-conditioned apartment. Shenzhen is miserably humid right now, so I have no desire to leave my bed unless I hear the fire alarm go off. Even then … there’s a good chance it’s just a drill, right?
When was the last time I even went hiking? Does The Great Wall last weekend count? I’m gonna say yes, because it makes me feel better.
I don’t practice yoga. Many travelers are free spirits, and many free spirits practice yoga. I feel like the two are linked.
My senior year of college, I really liked yoga. But I’ve fallen out of the habit, mainly because I don’t want to pay for classes. Also, I must admit that I don’t consider myself a free spirit. I love lists. I’m very anxious. I’m responsible.
While writing this post, I didn’t know if I should type practice yoga, do yoga, participate in yoga …? The fact that I don’t know the correct term is a testament to how much of a stranger I have become to the sport. Sport? Art? Dammit!
I’m not a photographer. I’m not even interested in photography. Please, no one buy me a nice camera, because I’m perfectly happy with my iPhone. Isn’t it a rule that if you’re a traveler, you’re supposed to be really into photography?
I don’t try enough local food. Ha! Okay, this one is a lie. I love trying local food when I travel. (Although I usually reward myself with a McDonald’s double cheeseburger afterward.) Eating takes up most of my time on a trip.
Maybe that’s my thing, actually. Oh, gosh. Is eating my “thing?” I can’t decide if that’s awesome or pathetic. Regardless, it will probably result in my being overweight.
So what do I do with my spare time while living abroad, besides eat? Well, right now I’m finishing the book Little Women. (I figured if Joey Tribbiani can do it, I can do it.) I watch a lot of Netflix with The Husband. Yesterday, I went to a meeting for a Chinese calligraphy contest. I write, and I write, and I write.
I think the most important thing is that I immerse myself in the culture and step out of my comfort zone every once in a while. I’m active in the school where I work. I tinker with learning Mandarin. I go to weird events like that calligraphy meeting. I think I’m making use of my time here.
So, what’s the point of this post? Did I have one?
I guess it’s this:
Any type of person can travel.
I think many of my friends consider me to be “their friend who travels.” It’s kind of my thing. Yet I don’t fit the stereotype.
Whatever image you have of travelers due to social media, blogs, or travel magazines, don’t let that psych you out. If you have the desire and determination, you can make it happen.
What type of traveler are you? How do you spend your time abroad?