You’ve finally got more time to travel and like many people, are thinking about how to get the most out of those experiences. While there are all kinds of practical tips for how to book the cheapest flight, or which piece of carry-on luggage is lightest, (I have some tips of my own, too!), I believe that to get the most out of any travel experience, you first need to start by understanding the kind of person you are.
Whether you are new to travel or are an experienced explorer, who you are as a person is who you will be as a traveller, too. So choosing the kind of travel that suits your personality is probably the first way to make your travel experience the best it can be.
So, what kind of person/traveller are you?
The Control Freak
Control freaks get a bad rap. (maybe because of the word ‘freak’…) In their defence, and probably because I am one myself, they are the kind of people who know exactly what they want, love to do their own research, and are happiest when they execute the plans themselves. Which in the world of travel makes them ideal independent travellers.
Independent travellers tend to focus on things that specifically appeal to their tastes. Maybe you are a culture sponge who loves to visit a museum and can spend hours in each gallery, drinking in one particular exhibit? Perhaps you are a superfan of a particular sport and want to build your travels around a must-see event happening somewhere in the world? Or maybe you just like to choose exactly the kind of hotel that appeals to your design aesthetic.
If you like to call your own shots, make your own timetable, and are comfortable scheduling your own itinerary to accommodate your specific wants or needs, you are ideally suited to travel independently. But you do need to be prepared to deal with any hiccups that happen along the way. However, being an independent traveller doesn’t mean you won’t use a travel agent, or other travel services to help plan your trip. You might even opt for a customized private tour which gives you all the flexibility you need. It’s just that pre-packaged travel is not your thing.
The Carefree Social Butterfly
If you are the opposite kind of person who hates organizing the party, but loves to just show up and enjoy whatever experience someone else has planned – and you love to mix and mingle with other people-people – you’re probably well suited for group travel.
Group travel takes all the guesswork out of trip planning, leaving travellers free to simply enjoy the destinations and activities that are already organized on their behalf. There’s no need to worry about accommodations, reservations, opening and closing hours at attractions, organizing tours, etc., because all those details have been worked out for you by someone else. All you have to do is enjoy the ride along with the other people who are joining you on the adventure.
In fact, the social aspect of group travel is one of the most important parts of it, because whether your group is a large coach tour or a small group adventure, you’ll be travelling together from one destination to another. It’s a great opportunity to meet other people from different walks of life, and often different countries, without having to worry about where you’re sleeping each night. (Leave that to the control freaks.)
The Tentative Traveller
Travelling may appeal to you, but travelling out of your comfort zone? Not so much. Maybe you’re a novice traveller, or travelling solo… maybe you are heading to a country where you can’t even read the street signs let alone pronounce them, or you just need to know you can find food that you can eat. Whatever the reason, you are more of a tentative traveller. Which is just fine, because there are plenty of options for travellers who need a comfortable base from which to go exploring.
Cruises are a great option for the more cautious traveller, as they offer a familiar place to return to after a day of exploring something new and different. Definitely take advantage of the organized tours offered by the ship, as they’ll make sure you’re well taken care of during the excursion and that you are back on the ship before it sails. (There’s nothing more reassuring than knowing that your ship won’t leave without you, even if there is a traffic snarl en route!) And an added bonus with cruising is that you’ll know exactly where you’re staying every night, without having to pack and unpack between destinations.
Of course, group tours are another good alternative especially if it’s your first time going to a foreign country, or if you are travelling by yourself. Having a guide with you at all times takes much of the stress out of travel and is a good way to gain confidence. All you need to do is enjoy the adventure, knowing someone else will deal with any issues that might arise.
The Go-With-the-Flow Adventurer
Did you say adventure? Does spontaneity and the idea of seeing where the road may take you get your adrenaline pumping (in a good way, not in an anxiety-attack kind of way)? If you love this idea, then you’ll probably love road tripping, too. It’s the kind of independent travel where you’re the one behind the wheel – literally – but without all the research and organization that pre-plans your every move.
The beauty of road trips is that they can be as planned or unplanned as you want, and even if you do have a good idea where you are going, chances are you’ll encounter some interesting things along the way that make the journey more memorable. See a quirky roadside attraction? Go ahead and check out that house made of beer bottles. Is that a ruin on top of that hill? Follow the sign with the castle on it and you may find yourself admiring a spectacular sunset from a vantage point that you’d never find on the internet.
Road tripping comes with its own downsides, too: you may not eat at the best restaurants every day, or you may not know where you’ll be sleeping from one night to the next, but that’s part of the adventure, and part of the appeal. Because whether you hit the road in your own country or abroad, in an RV or a flashy convertible, your ideal trip is any one with the word ‘road’ in front of it.
The Best Way to Travel is Your Way
Obviously there are as many ways to travel as there are people, not just these examples. And there is no ‘best way’ to do it, only the way that suits you best. Because it’s not about whether you travel independently, or in a group, or on a ship, a plane, a train, or an automobile – it’s about knowing yourself and knowing what feels right for you. That’s the surest way to make the most of your travel adventures.
All the rest is just logistics.
About the Author: Jane Canapini
Jane is Boomerang’s resident travel blogger & expert, not to mention the author of Grownup Travels. Read Jane’s last article on Boomerang: Overtourism & why travelling off the beaten path is good for everyone. Learn more about Jane’s journey from advertising to the travel blogger!
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