4 Travel Mentalities – The Tourist, Vacationer, Nomad & Slow Traveler

The tourist – Main goal is to have his trip look and sound great in hindsight and when sharing with others back home. Biggest fear is missing a must-see landmark that everyone else definitely saw. Wonders whether he was actually ever at the Eiffel Tower if it wasn’t well-documented on facebook. Activities focus around seeing as much shit other people think is important as possible, taking copious selfies in front of recognizable landmarks and eating everywhere along the main street next to his hotel that advertises traditional food. Trip Advisor top ten lists are the de facto agenda. Takes the most direct route to a destination possible. Doesn’t visit places, he “does” them. Is proud that he will have “checked off” three countries in seven days.

The vacationer – Main goal is to get away from wherever he came from. Biggest fear is going back to work on Monday. Proclaims himself to be a hedonist but before his morning Bloody Mary he doubts whether his intense hangover and heartburn was worth the…wait, what was it he did last night? Activities focus around overeating, overdrinking, sex and occasional sightseeing (if there’s time). Can commonly be spotted in the bar or nightclub district experiencing the “culture”. Spends liberally on anything that helps him forget about his job back home. This doesn’t concern him because he never forgets that he will have more money when he goes back to work in two weeks.

The nomad – Main goal is to “find himself” —preferably in an exotic location with a cheap cost of living. Biggest fear is commitment. Believes man lost himself when he stopped living directly from the land and began settling in permanent locations —all of his thoughts on the topic sounding suspiciously close to Bruce Chatwin’s book The Song Lines. Activities usually focus around some strange and peculiar mix of personal interests and inclinations that no one else understands. Often takes the longest, most indirect path imaginable to a destination. His plans for the future are shaky at best and often change completely within minutes. Spends frugally most of the time because he believes money is best spent to purchase more time. Sees no apparent contradiction to this philosophy in his liberal consumption of wine.

The slow traveler – Main goal is not to move around but to be moved. Biggest fear is not knowing the best local spots and looking like a tourist. Has a vague interest in eastern philosophy because it seems that if he were to look into it more it might support his passion for “just being”. Activities include working on farms and in hostels, staying for long periods of time in other people’s houses and generally not doing much of anything and calling it “slow travel”. Spends an inordinate amount of time talking about supporting local business and sustainability while sipping his bottled coke.


*Picture is of what my host had described as a “Romanian bonfire” at an incredibly opulent, all-night party (the type I’m almost never invited to) somewhere in the wine-producing hills of southeast Romania.

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Hello. I’m Alasdair.

Hello. I’m Alasdair.

I believe that being aware of who I am and mindful of who I am becoming is the best investment I can make in my life —and that when we focus our efforts within, the rewards naturally flow outward to those we love and through the communities we belong to.