There are many travellers out there… in fact everyone travels at some point in their life. So what makes a great traveller?
You are respectful of the people and the places you visit – this one is very serious and, what I think, is the most important. I just love when I see travellers somewhere foreign to them, near or far, making an effort to connect, and not some type of cultural tour, but really connect, like learning a language or a tradition.
Your luggage doesn’t have any wheels – this one is obviously not that serious but it bothers me to see people lugging around a suitcase on wheels. Come on, sling on a backpack and get out there!
You are not quick to panic at every little thing that goes wrong on a trip (and many things will go wrong) – during your travels, a million things will go wrong, or at least will be different from the comforts of home and it’s important to remain cool in these times of adversity. In Thailand because of saving face and other cultural differences, the Thai people don’t do well with outward anger or aggression. Many foreigners will get angry and flustered and this just doesn’t work with Thai people who will simply laugh more and more as you get angrier and angrier.
You eat at holes-in-the-walls. You are not afraid of street food and stall food – you are out to experience something different and this includes food. Pretty much every culture has amazingly unique dishes and there are always hidden gems where you least expect them. Banff, AB in Canada is filled with great and expensive restaurants but one of the best is this little hole-in-the-wall off the main drag, named Barpa Bills, that has the most amazing Greek food.
You take chances at places to stay, hearing about them from fellow travellers, word of mouth, etc. and you avoid chain hotels and motels – nothing like finding a great hotel or guesthouse off the beaten path.
You like to go for big chunks of time, preferably for more than a month – can you imagine going to a place like India for less than a month. It takes at least 2 weeks just to get your head straight and another couple of weeks to get over some sickness. But after that it’s one of the most amazing adventures to be had.
You are comfortable spending time by yourself – a traveller has to be comfortable with themselves. If not, they will grow to be or they will stop travelling.
You don’t travel first class – nothing like a 36 hour bus ride across the country.
You read a lot – the likes of Whitman, Thoreau or Annie Dillard are always near.
You love adventure – that’s why you started travelling in the first place.