You probably don’t know it, but the type of tourist you are has a huge influence on the type of travel you indulge yourself in. Don’t worry, however, for there is some science behind it. You won’t merely be lumped into a category where you’re a ‘lazy tourist’ or the equivalent of a ‘Little Englander,’ dependent on where it is you are from.
What can the type of tourist you are have an impact on?
- Where you choose to go on holiday
- The type of accommodation you choose to stay in
- What you do when you go on holiday
- The people you travel with
- How you eat and behave when you’re in a destination
Influencing Your Tourism Habits
At the same time, a range of factors can influence the type of tourist you want to or are able to be. These might include
- Your income
- Your personal circumstances in terms of relationship and family status
- Where you live
- Your personal hobbies and interests
- Your holiday budget
While these can all be an influence, nothing can prevent you from being the tourist you want to be.
Does it Matter?
While what a person does concerning their holiday might seem to be irrelevant, the modern, connected world in which we live means that it is of more importance than ever before. It only takes one tweet or Google+ update to show the world what you’re doing, and tour operators are using this activity like never before, as well as encouraging travellers to do the same.
It sounds extreme, but the type of tourist you are can have an impact on economies, future travel trends, and the way in which people living in a popular resort view those from a particular country or geographic area. Thinking back to earlier, the term ‘Little Englander’ did not originate from an accident one day!
We also have to consider the ways in which resorts set up and market themselves. Places don’t just throw open their doors and wait for people to arrive. Everything they do is designed to attract a specific type of traveller, and they know exactly what to do in order to fulfil the travel needs and requirements of holidaymakers in every group.
Which type of tourist are you? We explored 15 different descriptions that were identified in a 1992 study, what they mean, and where the best places on Earth are to indulge in this manner of travel.
Be warned: You might not like the group you fit into, although it might motivate you to rethink your own holiday attitudes and behaviours, or give you an idea for a great holiday in the near future.
We expect that most people will be able to relate to this type of tourism. After all, despite sweeping changes in the industry and the attitudes of travellers, large numbers of people still decide to take a holiday in a particular destination because the sun will be shining most of the time.
The sun worshipper follows a very particular pattern of behaviour during a holiday; they are the people that you see relaxing around the pool from dawn until dusk, and on the days they do move it is only down to the beach where they follow a similar pattern of inactivity.
Places to Visit: The beauty of being this type of tourist is that you can almost look at a world map and point to any country that has the climate you’re looking for. Depending on where you are in the world, it might not be necessary to spend a lot of money if all you’re seeking from a trip is the sun.
Consider Mexico, the northern coast of Brazil, and places around the Mediterranean, including politically stable nations in North Africa.
This probably isn’t going to be the description you expect to find under this banner. No, an action seeker is not someone who loves an adventure holiday or heads off looking for extreme sports, although we will get to that later.
An action seeker is the tourist who heads to a resort and becomes an all-out reveller, looking for the parties that are taking place around a locality, the best nightclubs, and organized events such as bar crawls and booze cruises. Throw in a very liberal attitude towards sex and drugs and you won’t be far away from the perfect fit when it comes to this description.
Places to Visit: We’re not about to feel like we’re naming and shaming any resort or country, and the last thing we would want is to upset a national embassy or tourist board and have ourselves blacklisted for life.
If you fit into this category yourself, you know the type of places we’re talking about. If, for some reason, you’re planning to be an action seeker, then a quick Google search will likely show you the best places to go.
Admittedly, this sounds like we’re starting to get a little deep, thus moving perhaps from one extreme to the other. However, being an anthropologist doesn’t mean you have to have an impressive degree or any other qualification.
Rather, a tourist anthropologist is a person who takes themselves off to various locations around the world and immerses themselves in their destination. This tourist is probably the most likely to reject anything that is on offer from their homeland, and try out local cuisine, pastimes, and spend time within the community getting to know the people, and maybe even getting involved with farm work, fishing, or other traditional roles. An anthropologist is also likely to stay in a guest house or bed and breakfast facility, rather than an ‘all mod cons’ hotel or apartment complex.
Photo credit: Antoine de Maximy jiraidormirchezvous.com
Places to Visit: Three locations around the world really stand out for us in this respect. The Greek Islands is the first. Clearly, you need to avoid the islands that are known for sun and action seekers – no, we’re not naming them – and head to the smaller locations that are perhaps not even well known for tourism.
East Africa would be our second option, with community programs often operating in countries such as Tanzania and Kenya, where you can actually go and live in a village undergoing development and have some input yourself. Finally, consider the Patagonia region of South America. This area is very remote, but home to some great communities as well as simply stunning landscape.
Do we mean there is a type of tourist casually travelling the world, seeking fields and other open spaces so that they can try to dig up dinosaur fossils and discover hidden villages? Unfortunately, it doesn’t get that exciting, but you wouldn’t be a million miles away from the correct answer.
This is one of the simplest definitions to understand. It relates to people who love to visit museums and historic sites, and will choose a destination specifically with that in mind.
Places to Visit: Many places across the world have a rich history, so it really depends on your own interests and on what you are looking for. If historic ruins are what motivate you to get on an aeroplane, then Rome and Athens are two great cities to target.
For lovers of monuments and temples, the South East of Asia and countries such as Cambodia and Vietnam are excellent locations, while for those seeking outdoor history and heritage, the Aboriginal areas of Australia are must visit.
If you feel that your holidays are stuck in a rut, then the chances are that you find yourself firmly in the ‘mass tourist’ category. This person perhaps closely relates to the sun worshipper or action seeker, but is more likely to be someone who travels with their families and younger children.
The mass tourist books their holidays at the travel agency, picking out the best picture from the collection of ‘Summer Sun’ brochures on the shelf, and indulging themselves in tour operator excursions and the buying of souvenirs – some might say tacky ones – during their trip.
Places to Visit: We were tempted to label this one places to avoid, but if you’re a person who enjoys a traditional ‘tourist holiday,’ there are many great locations around the world to head, depending on your current location and budget.
We promised you we would get onto looking at extreme sports, and now we have the real definition of what many would term an action seeker. This type of holiday goes far beyond mere action, and can range from a 100 miles an hour adrenaline rush down a mountain to discovering some of the most unique and exciting wildlife anywhere in the world.
Thrill seekers are more likely to book an adventure holiday, following adrenaline-fuelled pursuits such as skydiving and abseiling, but you can also group those who look for a diverse mixture of travel activities into this category. These travellers choose holidays specifically because of the adventure element; this is not your tourist who arrives in a country, sees something exciting, and decides “I’d love to try that.”
Places to Visit: This depends completely on what your interests are and what you’re looking to do on holiday. However, countries such as Australia and New Zealand offer a diverse range of options, and the varying terrain found across these nations means that you can do almost anything, from wakeboarding and swimming with sharks in the water to skiing and snowboarding down towering peaks.
That said, those countries can be expensive to get to, so if you’re on a tighter budget, you will have options elsewhere; almost every country has something to offer a thrill-seeker.
More than just enjoying discovering new locations, an Explorer embraces the challenge that can often come with travelling to such locations. Someone who loves backpacking holidays, for example, would be the perfect candidate for this category.
Explorers follow a range of holiday plans; they might have a pre-determined route or an itinerary, or they could ensure that they have enough money and an idea of hostels and places to stay, and then improvise as they go along.
Places to Visit: South East Asia is the modern day explorer and backpackers’ paradise. As well as having a hot climate and some stunning places to see and visit, getting around the region is extremely cheap, making it a potential holiday opportunity for everyone.
A little to the south, Australia is also a great place for exploring, and with emerging tourist trends there such as relocation campervans available to hire, getting around doesn’t have to cost a fortune there, either.
If there is a type of tourist that is more aspirational than the others, then you would have to argue that it is this one. However, it can have the most barriers in terms of inclusion, as you often need a considerable level of finance behind you to be a jet set traveller.
Many people would consider a jet set traveller to be someone who bounces from place to place quickly, and while there is perhaps an element of truth to that, our definition focusses more on those who love to travel to and stay in the most luxurious resorts around the world, dining in high class restaurants, and partying in exclusive bars. They may also actively seek out the company of celebrities or others who have a similar budget or lifestyle.
Places to Visit: Think about the most exclusive places in the world, such as St. Tropez and Monte Carlo, and you’re onto the right line of thinking for a jet set traveller. However, there are notable locations around the world with a high concentration of luxury places to eat, drink, and stay. Our choices would be Sydney, Singapore, Tokyo, Paris, and New York City.
What are you looking for from your holiday? If you’re a seeker, then your purpose goes way beyond your holiday, and extends to life in general. Yes, we’re starting to get deep again, but many people take a holiday in order to ‘find themselves’ or challenge what they already know about the world.
You might not have been a seeker when you first made a trip, but experiences as an anthropologist or an explorer could have turned you into one. To truly find yourself and qualify the way you feel about life in general, it is usually best to travel to diverse destinations where you can find contrasts of rich and poor, and where these different levels of culture clash.
Places to Visit: With that last sentence in mind, the three obvious locations someone who knows they’re a seeker should consider are Brazil, South Africa, and India. Peaceful places where you will find time to relax and reflect, such as Nepal or Tibet, are also be worth considering.
All of these will offer you great variety in terms of the things you see and the people you meet. Cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg, and Mumbai, are all well-known – or notorious – for being places where you can experience wild riches in one location, and encounter extreme poverty just a matter of metres away.
We really don’t understand the stigma attached to doing things independently. Some people believe that ‘going solo’ is weird; we just think it is a great way to do your own thing and meet new people without having to worry about what anyone else wants to do. Independent tourism is ‘me time’ at its best.
This person does their own thing, and they will usually spend some time travelling popular resorts and destinations.
Places to Visit: Anywhere you want to go is really the answer here, although we would recommend you check travel advice and guidance for people travelling alone in certain areas, such as the Middle East and India, for example.
High End Tourist
We won’t dwell on this point too much, as there are several similarities with the jetsetter. The big difference is that the high-end tourist is less ‘in your face’ about where they go, and enjoy the time spent in the destination for what it is.
This tourist is also more likely to be with their family, and looking for an altogether more rounded experience.
Places to Visit: The same as the jetsetter, but visiting hotels and restaurants that are classy and high-end without having an exclusive or elite label.
Is this a type of tourism or is it a way of life? The reality is that it can easily describe both, however it is how one becomes a drifter that is perhaps most intriguing, because we can almost guarantee you won’t set out to be one.
How do you become a drifter? Generally, a drifter is an explorer or seeker, who finds themselves immersed in life wherever they have travelled to, and tends to stay there for an extended period, while occasionally moving from place to place. Drifters can make their money from short-term jobs such as bar work or helping out on a farm.
Places to Visit: As we said, it is unlikely you will set out to become a drifter, but you are most likely to do so in the popular explorer and backpacker locations we mentioned earlier, specifically South East Asia, owing to the relaxed way of life and considering how cheap it can be to get by.
You can perhaps be an escapist while fitting into many of the tourist categories we have already explored. We often say that a holiday is out opportunity to ‘escape from it all.’ An escapist embraces this fully, heading to remote destinations where they can relax in a peaceful surround, be it a quiet village, a beach hut, or somewhere in the countryside.
Places to Visit: This one comes down to your own personal choice. If we started listing places now, everyone would head there and it would defeat the purpose of wanting to escape!
If you are someone who heads off on holiday to go cycling, meet other groups from around the world to play football, or head off with friends to play golf, then you are an all-out sports tourist.
Places to Visit: Anywhere with a reputation for great golf courses is worth visiting. The Caribbean is filled with beautiful resorts, as is Portugal and the south of Australia – Adelaide and Melbourne, in particular, are golf hot spots Down Under.
The academics amongst us will often take an educational holiday. This type of tourism often follows a person who has previously been an anthropologist or archaeologist, and can be used to describe a person either looking to learn a language, understand a culture, or discover why a particular place is the way it is.
Places to Visit: Anywhere you have an interest in and want to learn about!
Your Next Steps
Now that you know the type of tourist you are, or the type you would like to become, it is the perfect time to think about where you want to go on your next holiday.
Use our suggestions of places to visit, or perhaps think of your own based on the category you want to fall into, and explore the possibilities available. If you’re a different type of tourist from the one you thought you’d be, and feel you’re missing out on certain opportunities, then fear not, for you have time to put that right.
This article was contributed by Rob who is a keen traveler having a lot of fun and still trying to work out which type of tourist he is. This year, he plans to become an explorer, travelling across Australia and New Zealand with hired relocation campervans to take in the beauty and majesty of those two countries.