How often do you travel? To what extent does the prospect of traveling influence your life? How many different countries and cultures have you experienced? How you answer these questions may determine whether you are a “Super Traveler” or not. But why is this even an issue?
The Super Traveler Paradox
A few years ago, my wife and I went on a Danube River cruise using a well-known river cruise ship company. During the cruise, we met many interesting people from all over the world who loved to travel. Initially, I didn’t realize how much traveling many of these people did.
AFOOT and light-hearted, I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose.
Excerpt from the poem: Song of the Open Road by Walt Whitman
At one of the onboard dinners, we met an older couple with whom we struck up a conversation. We went through the requisite, “where are you from,” “what do you do for a living,” etc. talk. During the conversation, we learned that after this 5-country cruise they were immediately going on another river cruise spanning multiple countries. Also, like us, these people were not just sitting on the ship at ports. At every port they went on an extensive excursion of the region. They saw and learned about the country or destination. This couple traveled extensively, and the traveling wasn’t related to their secular work. I thought to myself “Wow! There are some Super Travelers in this world.” At the time I had traveled to more than a dozen countries, and I thought I was doing quite well in my travels; not that a number count of countries visited is completely relevant. Still, I was not a “Super Traveler” and not in the same league as these world travelers. So, I began to think about what is a Super Traveler. What criteria or characteristics propel a person into the echelon of Super Traveler.
How Many Countries Have You Visited?
Does this question matter? While this has never come up during my travels and interactions with people, it always seems to be a subject of discussion on social media websites. Now, don’t get me wrong, I keep a tally of which and how many countries, states, continents, palaces, and art museums, etc. I have visited. While traveling with people you do not know; you will discuss places that you’ve visited. However, the number of countries visited has never come up in conversations. Anyway, in addressing what a Super Traveler is, it is necessary to look at numbers as a variable and a way to validate.
As a member of a few travel communities, I went through the posts where members discussed the number of countries visited, and I took an average of the results. Twenty-eight countries seem to be the average number of countries visited by travel community members. Additionally, they do not count layovers in airports in their count. If you are flying to Australia and have a connecting flight in Nepal, you have not visited Nepal. Now, if you have a 1 or 2-day layover where you get to leave the airport and sightsee, that counts.
Twenty-eight is a large number and depending on where you live that can be a significantly high number for countries visited. For instance, if you live in Europe, traveling to another country is the same as traveling to another state in the United States. Europe comprises 50 different “countries” including autonomous nations and cross-continental countries. The entire European continent is smaller than the country of the United States. Additionally, many EU countries are smaller than states. However, people do not count states in their country count for obvious reasons. Still, we will add the number of 28 countries visited as a minor factor in determining a Super Traveler.
What Percentage of Your Income do you Spend on Travel?
Super travelers spend a lot of their resources on travel, so I decided to do an informal poll with the question: "What percentage of your income do you spend on travel?" The people polled were members of various online travel groups and forums. I was pleasantly surprised by the results because the answers were in line with the percentage I spend. A large portion of the people polled spends around 25% of their gross annual income on travel. Of course, the yearly income range of these poll participants was varied; however, the percentages were about the same. The conclusion? On average, Super Travelers spend about 1/4 of their income on travel.
How do You Travel?
How do you travel? Do you fly to a county and spend a week exploring only that country? Do you travel by cruise ship and see a lot of different sights or countries within a short period? Do you stay only at 4-star hotels or are you a rolling stone (wherever you lay your hat, is your home)? Are you rappelling the Matterhorn or are you sightseeing in your rental car? Are you a risk-taker, adventurer, photo documenter, loafer, adventurer, or a sightseer? For some people, how you travel matters.
I have heard people complain that traveling via cruise ships is not traveling because you only get a glimpse of a country. Frankly, that is nonsense because unless you live in a country or spend months in one, you only get a glimpse of it. One can still get a feel for the history, people, and culture of a place within a short period; if that is your goal. In my experience, I have explored single countries over a period and have done cruises that visit multiple countries. I don’t think either way of traveling is better than the other. However, I typically take guided excursions when I cruise. So, I tend to learn more during cruises. That doesn’t mean one can’t do guided excursions when exploring a single country; it’s just that I have yet to do it that way…yet.
One thing a Super Traveler cannot be is a loafer. A loafer is a person who travels to a destination and only sits on a beach or resides within a “resort compound” the entire trip. These people never taste the country or destination. They do not get a feel for the culture, people, and history, etc. Don’t get me wrong, loafing can be a good way to spend a vacation, but if that’s how you always spend vacations, then you cannot be classified as a Super Traveler. A Super Traveler is a learner, an adventurer, and a sightseer. It doesn’t matter how long they do it if it gets done. They experience the country, even if it’s only for a day, learning about the destination and getting a feel for the culture.
Is there a Super Traveler Personality Type? Myers Brigg Types for a Traveler
I know this is out of left field, but I’m a huge fan of the Myers Brigg Personality Type Indicator (MBTI) which has the purpose of “indicating differing psychological preferences in how people perceive the world around them and make decisions.” This assessment allows you to know yourself better and even make decisions based on what is best for you and your psychological type.
I began to wonder if there was a “Super Traveler” personality type; if I could identify these people by phycological characteristics. However, in my research, I found that a person’s MBTI type does not factor into the Super Traveler equation since there are many traveler personality types. We will not address those types here since The Observer website has already thoroughly discussed it in the article: What Kind of Traveler You Are, Based on Your Myers-Briggs Type.
How do You Live Even When You are not Traveling?
A Super Traveler lives to travel; it affects their dreams and nightmares, the way they live, the type of work they have, and how they spend their disposable income. They have the urge to see every part of the world even though that’s impossible. Unless you are independently wealthy, a Super Traveler will scrimp, sacrifice, and save to travel. It seems that many full-time working people who love to travel will only use their vacation or holiday time for travel. They will make life choices which allow them to travel more. They have a philosophy of “Don’t buy things, experience things.”
This personality type will be a member of traveling groups and social network travel communities. They will watch TV shows and Vlogs about travel. They will follow other travelers in their spare time on social networks, etc. Even when a Super Traveler is at home, they will experience what they can in their area. It amazes me that many people do not know their state or country. They want to travel, but for them, it’s just a want and not a way of life.
Some foreigners have experienced and knew more about a country than the residents. I remember reading a story of an American man who was visiting a small town in Germany. He was in a pub eating and drinking alone when a German guy struck up a conversation with him. He told the American about the time he was a young man and had visited America. He related how he purchased a used car and drove around east to south to west, north and then back east for six months. This foreigner had seen more of the United States than the American. He knew more about the United States than the US resident. The German man is a Super Traveler.
Finally, You are a Super Traveler if…
So, how do we sum up this completely irrelevant Super Traveler article? Simply put, you are a Super Traveler if traveling is a way of life for you; if it influences your life and dreams. Of course, dreaming is not enough; you must realize many of your travel goals to be called a Super Traveler. You must have an open mind, an open heart, and a strong desire to learn about the world and different cultures. That leads to the elephant in the room. Should we put a specific number on countries visited to be classified as a Super Traveler? No! How many times a year you travel may be a better criterion. So, if you travel at least twice a year, experience different cultures in your travels, and have all of the other criteria mentioned in this article, you may be a Super Traveler.
Am I missing something? If so, please comment below and let me know what you think makes a Super Traveler.