I am traveling with my family through Spain for Thanksgiving week, a total of ten days. We spent three nights in Madrid, three nights in Barcelona and today we flew to Bilbao for three nights before flying home on Monday to Boise. There are three of us in our group; my husband, Peter, my daughter, Kayla (age 16) and myself. My son, Scott is spending a semester in Bilbao with the University of Idaho exchange program. He is a senior majoring in finance and accounting with a minor in math.
When he was getting ready to leave Boise, he warned us that he might not have time to see us. But it turns out he only has classes Monday through Wednesday with four day weekends. He has used his long weekends well traveling with friends to Portugal, Barcelona, and Amsterdam.
Last weekend he took a five hour roundtrip bus trip from Bilbao to meet us. He stayed in a hostel near our three star hotel. His visit led me to the theme of this week’s blog. To travel well and happily you need to know yourself.
Scott has turned into an adventurer. He carries what he needs in a backpack. He is facile with apps on his phone for directions, tickets and other travel necessities. He uses mass transit or Uber everywhere he goes. He finds ways to do things on the cheap utilizing hostels or crashing with friends. He has made trips all over Europe on a limited budget.
Pete, Kayla and I are travellers. Kayla and I have travelled extensively, Pete not so much. But a traveller has a distinctive style. We all carry a single bag that meets airport boarding standards and a backpack. The rule is that you have to be able to handle your own luggage easily. The three of us spent 13 days in China with a large group. We managed with our roller bags while others piled up massive suitcases to load on the buses. Pete and I actually put everything in the overhead when we went to Prague and Vienna a number of years ago.
Travellers have some explorer in them. They will take off without a firm schedule. But unlike the true adventure, a traveller wants to know they have a room at night and skip the line tickets for the big tourist showcases such as the Vatican.
The final category is tourist. This is the individual who wants every detail planned to the last second, excursions planned before you leave home and no worries about transportation or luggage size. Most foreign travellers are tourists. We see buses full of tourists where ever we go. The cruise tour is the ultimate luxury for the tourist, one doesn’t even need to move their baggage during the entire journey. I doubt I will go on a cruise in my lifetime. As a traveller, I would find it confining.
All of us have a little of each of these wanders in us. When my family went to China as tourists, I felt confined by the buses but would have been uncomfortable in the jammed streets with the foriegn language and street signs without a guide.
Last spring in England, my sister and I rented a car and drove through England, Whales, and Scotland. We were mainly travellers because we had a destination each night but during the day we were adventures left to the mercy of the GPS. Fortunately, we know English.
I am thrilled my son has turned into an adventurer. He plans on skiing in Southern France for 4 days for $200 to $300 Euros including room, lifts, equipment before returning to Idaho for Christmas. He will borrow clothes though he owns some of the best ski equipment in the world back in Boise. As an adventurer, who knows what places he’ll go or sights he’ll see.
I am pleased to be a traveller. I savor the freedom of an unplanned day where we can take a siesta, eat late, outside on a Spanish square with heat lamps going.
But I understand the tourist with their need to control their trip and keep their possessions with them.
The key to successful foriegn journeys is understanding: “Are you an adventurer, a traveller, or a tourist?”
Putting an adventurer on a tourist excursion will lead to great discontent for the tourists and adventurer. A tourist on an unscheduled adventure will probably suffer great anxiety. There is no correct adventure quota but knowing who you are and the styles of your fellow travel partners will result in a much more successful trip.