And, Why Fifty-Nomads Should Develop Their Own Inventory
¨Through travel, you discover a new aspect of your personality. You discover things which you wouldn’t in the confines of your home.¨
How I Developed My Own Travel Personality Inventory and Why You Should Develop Your Own Personality Inventory
When I (Paul Heller, founder of Fifty Plus Nomad) first started traveling as a young man, I often had a hard time adapting to my new environment. I suffered from culture shock and often was lonely and irritated by paying foreigner (gringo) taxes during my adventures. I treasured the memories and personal growth these experiences provided, but the result was seldom as easy or satisfying as possible.
After developing courses about traveling and living abroad that I taught throughout the US between 2005 and 2009, I learned a lot about how travelers and expats can adapt successfully to their new lives.
One of the first steps in developing these courses was trying to understand my own travel personality. I inventoried my past experiences to see what made me passionate about travel and who I was as a traveler. I also took two commercially available personality inventory quizzes: Myers-Briggs and Stanley Plog to help me flesh out my own travel personality inventory.
When I taught courses in the US, I realized that these quizzes, while outstanding, did not cover everything necessary to develop a personality inventory. So, I designed two additional quizzes to fill in the gap: Do You Have What it Takes to be a Successful Fifty-Plus Nomad? and What Type of Fifty-Plus Nomad are You? and a supplemental set of Five Essential Questions that Fifty Plus Nomads Should Ask Themselves Before Embarking on their Long Term, Round the World Adventures?
In 2011, I started on my long dreamed extended, round the world trip (which eventually lasted for nearly five years). I applied this newfound knowledge to develop my own Fifty-Plus Nomad lifestyle.
After looking at the four travel personality inventory quizzes and supplemental questions, I revised my personal travel personality inventory and developed a model for other nomads to follow. I highly recommend any Fifty Plus Nomad to follow in my footsteps. It only took me a couple of days of reflection to develop the inventory, and it saved me tons of frustration and missteps. I consider that time one of the most useful in my life. I think you will, too.
So here is my inventory:
My General Travel Personality Inventory
- Am fascinated by unique cultures.
- Always seek new experiences and have trouble settling down into a stable lifestyle. Enjoy starting up businesses that allow me to share my perspectives and experiences about travel with others.
- Hold strong opinions, especially about politics (left of center).
- Enjoying going back and forth between luxury travel (by staying at first-class hotels and eating at top-notch restaurants) and budget travel (renting a room in someone’s home).
- Have visited many different parts of the world, including Europe, Third World Countries (Asia, Latin America, and Africa), and the US and Canada.
- Relish participating in many types of travel experiences, including independent travel, cruises, guided tours, and learning and volunteer vacations.
- Don’t spend the time and money to learn how to use a new travel technology unless it has many recognizable benefits.
- Like to share my travel experiences with others when I get home. I can be good at influencing others to try new travel adventures and experiences.
- Watch a lot of documentaries to see places I want to visit or have visited.
My On-the-Road Travel Personality
- Need to spend some time by myself with no fixed schedule or commitments. I relish having enough time to explore exotic sights and pursue my many passions and interests.
- Like having a comfortable bed at night, a warm shower, and a good meal.
- Love studying history, particularly in places that are outside of the regular tourist circuit.
- Am easy to motivate to take a trip or buy a ticket for events on the road. If something sounds interesting, I will sign up without doing a lot of other research. I only do more research if there is something that I need to know ahead of time. (Generally, I need to ensure that I, or a travel companion, can do the activity physically). I prefer not to have a lot of details ahead of time because I:
- enjoy the sense of discovering something new.
- sometimes find that I am disappointed if I know too much about an experience ahead of time.
- Am reluctant to visit overcrowded places.
- Tend to buy souvenirs that are part of the heritage of a destination such as Mexican folk art though I do collect refrigerator magnets and shot glasses from my travels.
- Don’t like to sleep in the same room as a stranger and, therefore, often pay for a single supplement.
- Am willing to spend money to have clean laundry. I don’t like to wear the same clothes for more than one day and have no luck washing clothes myself.
- Don’t enjoy taking city buses much. I am easily frustrated figuring out the bus routes and find that I occasionally do not get off at the right spot, especially on a crowded bus.
- Dread using public transit to get from the airport to the city in an unknown city. (Particularly after a long flight). I am more than willing to pay for a taxi to avoid the annoyance of figuring out the public transport system, learning how to pay the fare, etc.
- Only willingly use city buses, if I travel on the same route for several days (i.e., from a homestay to a language school). I am inclined, however, to use the metro or subway to travel around a new city, when available. (Metros usually only feature a few lines and stations whereas buses have multiple routes and stops. I can usually also figure out how to buy a ticket more efficiently on a subway than on a city bus).
- Don’t want to start traveling right away after arrival, particularly following a night flight. I have never mastered the art of sleeping on a plane. When I arrive, all I want to do is get something to eat, relax, and, if feasible, rest well before starting my new adventure.
- Try to arrive in a city at least one day before beginning a tour or cruise. That way, it is less stressful if there is a problem with a flight and I am not tired when starting a new trip. (Especially now that you cannot rely on airlines to depart when they said upon buying the ticket).
- Seek a wide range of experiences when traveling. During my two years in Montreal (spread out over eight months), for example, I attended a wide range of concerts, from hard rock to opera and tours of everything from a lavender farm to a train museum.
- Enjoy city walking tours, food/wine excursions, and any tour (including tours of graffiti) that I won’t find in many other cities.
- Plan some downtime into all my independent travel experiences to do laundry, chores, arrange tours, organize transport, and watch TV/read. (Usually one day a week).
- Spend around five to seven hours a day sightseeing and relax most nights. I do, however, also go out a couple of nights a week at night to attend concerts or with an organized excursion.
- Like traveling independently in cities for a week or two. I love museums and other urban sights. Most tour companies schedule too little time at sites for my taste. Then, I use day-tours for trips to the nearby countryside.
- Am more willing to splurge on meals and sightseeing than hotels. Meals and sightseeing help me learn about the place than more than hotels.
- Find it harder than, in the past, to stay in hotels or rooms that do not have proper heating or air conditioning.
- Enjoy staying in a luxury hotel at least a couple of days a year.
- Enjoy renting a car with a driver or tour guide, especially when traveling in places where the cost of these services is small (like India). That way, I can avoid crowded buses and eliminate some of the frustration of buying tickets.
- Like going on organized shore excursions on cruises. I usually find that the guides are excellent and that the destinations are fascinating. Sometimes, I ask the excursion staff which tours are the least popular because these tours are often uncrowded and attract guides who are passionate about the itinerary.
- When away from home for an extended period, I enjoy spending time in my new culture (eating at small market kiosks). I also like spending time in my own, more familiar culture (i.e., shopping at the same stores as at home, visiting with local expatriates, etc.). When I was younger, I was quite self-critical about enjoying my home culture while living abroad. Now, I think it is healthy at times (but not all the time) to spend time with fellow Americans (or Canadians) and shop at familiar stores.
- Have found that the longer I travel, the more relaxed my travel becomes. I used to feel like I needed to schedule every minute of the day when I worked and had only two to three weeks of vacation a year. However, now that I often travel for several months a year, I feel perfectly comfortable having more downtime (watching TV, reading, and listening to podcasts). I also like spending more time in one place before traveling to another location.
Planning Travel to Reflect My Travel Personality
- Sometimes, I plan my trips far in advance because I love having something exciting to look forward to. I also find that if I wait to plan something until the last moment, I:
- Am prone to forego participating in events.
- Get lazy and spend time relaxing and doing nothing.
- Usually, regret this decision afterward.
- Usually do not return to the same place, though occasionally I enjoy revisiting places that I haven’t seen in a long time.
- Use travel tales from friends and associates and books to determine where I want to visit next. I also read a lot to learn about interesting out of the way places and experiences.
- Tend to be one of the first to visit out of the way destinations. I am also among the first people to tour a country that until recently was closed to visitors.
- Will pay extra, if possible, to avoid airline connections. When I need to connect between flights, I try to allow at least an hour and a half for the connecting time between flights. I hate having to run across an airport to make a connection. I also, while it is more expensive than eating outside the airport, often use the time during connecting flights to get a bite to eat.
- Organize hotels in advance, after experiencing several times when I could not find a decent hotel room at the last moment.
- Don’t like to drive particularly outside of the US I have a history of fender-benders and get easily lost, which causes me frustration when I am driving in an unknown place.
- Choose cruises to see places that would be difficult to visit otherwise. For example, cruises are the most efficient and least expensive way to see the North Atlantic and Patagonia because flights between these ports are costly and infrequent.
- Select tours to see parts of the world that take more work to comfortably travel independently, such as Guatemala (bus travel there is difficult).
- Always select the cheapest cabin on a cruise ship when traveling alone. I like the darkness, small size, and do not spend much time in the cabin, anyway. I also find that choosing the cheapest cabin is the only way that I can afford most cruises.
- Decide whether to take a multiple-day tour or travel by myself depending on how easy or hard it is to travel to a given destination independently. I am very comfortable visiting Mexico by myself because:
- I speak the language reasonably well and am at ease with the culture.
- there is a lot of tourist-related infrastructure.
- it is easy to pay for little ¨luxuries¨ that help me to travel more comfortably in Mexico. (i.e., having someone do my laundry or taking taxis rather than city buses).
- On the other hand, I travel with groups to rural parts of Western Europe because I do not like to drive, and it is expensive to hire a car and a driver. (The public transit can be terrible especially in Italy).
- Am increasingly happy to allow other people to plan parts of my adventures. I think this is because I have discovered that:
- Preparing long, completely independent journeys all the time can grow tiresome.
- Organized tours and cruises come in more styles and go to more destinations than when I was younger;
- I enjoy getting to know the other tourists and guides.
- I sometimes like having a clear sense of what to expect ahead of time that you get with an organized tour.
Some Additional Travel Personality Related Posts
- My Own Travel Personality InventoryPaul Heller, the Founder of Fifty-Plus Nomad, has outlined in detail his own travel personality. This inventory was developed after taking all the quizzes and answering the questions contained throughout the travel personality section of the blog. It is intended as a model for other fifty-Plus Nomads to use in developing their own inventory.
- Five Essential Fifty-Plus Nomad QuestionsIn addition to taking the four travel personality quizzes, Fifty-Plus Nomads should ask themselves five essential questions to help them determine how they like to travel.
- Quiz #2: What Type of Fifty-Plus Nomad Are You?Take Fifty-Plus Nomad’s Quiz Number 2 and discover if you prefer to travel like a local or as a jet setter. Or maybe, instead, you are an artful or a traditional traveler.
- Quiz #1: Do You Have What It Takes to be a Successful Fifty-Plus Nomad?Take Quiz #1: Find out if you have what It takes to be a successful Fifty-Plus Nomad? (Hint: Chances are, you do).
- Take the Myers-Briggs Personality Test and Become a Better Expat and Long-Term TravelerTake the Myers-Briggs Personality Test and discover more about your personality and needs before you begin your long-term travel and living abroad adventures.
- Take Stanley Plog’s Travel Quiz and Discover Which of 6 Travel Personalities You HaveTake Stanley Plog’s Travel Quiz and discover if you are a pioneer, venturer, voyager, journeyer, sightseer, or traditional traveler.
- Find Your Travel Personality: A Vital First Step on Your Fifty-Plus Nomad JourneyI recommend everyone spend at least a day exploring their own travel personality, needs, and goals before they embark on a long-term, round-the-world trip or live in another country.