1. The ‘know it all’ traveller
These guys are the worst. The kind of guys you meet at hostels who’ve volunteered at a really LOCAL strawberry farm (not the one in the lonely planet), who didn’t do the main Macchu Picchu trek, but a secret one that no-one knows about; who changed their dollars into pesos so everything’s now half-priced for them. They’ve had so many “amaaazing” experiences and yet they seem somehow hollow and joyless. This is the traveller who takes it far too seriously, thus sapping the life out of their own travels. Try to act polite but ultimately unimpressed and they will eventually stop bleating on at you about their recent time wading through uninhabited Amazonian jungles with local tribesmen.
2. The natural buddies
These guys are awesome. They’re the people you meet on your travels, and you just click. They remind you of your friends from home; perhaps they’re a couple and you’re a couple too, or you’re just alike. You make each other laugh, find out you’re basically on the same route, exchange Whatsapps and Facebooks and away you go! These guys are the lifeblood of travels – hang onto them!
3. The outdoorsy types
They’ve got the most functional, lightweight tent; the most shiny, futuristic rollmats you’ve ever seen; convertable hiking trousers; sweatproof heat-tech clothing and those iridescent wraparound sports sunglasses. You probably meet them on a hike or something, and they make you feel incredibly unfit and ill-prepared, but they’re nice enough people. Just don’t let it out that you’ve only used your camping stove once and aren’t really sure how the gas canister works. You’ll get laughed out the camp.
4. The glampers
These are monied travellers. They’ve got an SLR, sturdy walking shoes (or flashy trainers), they’re still bothering with make-up and earrings or hair gel if you’re a guy), and they’ll take the first class option of anything – tours, buses, accommodation, restaurants. For these guys, travelling is just one big holiday, and they will never know the pain of living on sandwiches and bizarre meals like vegetable pasta, red cabbage and rice (because it’s cheap)
5. The gap yearers
Inevitable, but only found on main routes and in certain locations. We expect to find far more in South East Asia, but so far only a smattering have been sighted in South America. Perhaps due to high season costs and the fact that ‘school’s out’ for no-one in February. We’ve seen more in main cities / sightseeing hot spots, presumably due to a more predictable tour route. In character, they don’t differ hugely from their elder counterparts (point 6), and mostly like to drink, socialise, and discuss previous and onward travels.
6. The quarter life crisis victims
This is where Sam and I fit, and we’ve found a surprisingly high number of people in this category. Late 20s seems to be the new early 20s when it comes to travelling. Perhaps it’s because it’s impossible to buy a house at our age now (at least in London), or maybe it’s due to the increased flexibility in work (people freelancing, taking more career breaks and returning to the same career, or even job afterwards) but we’ve already met a fair few other couples or late 20s folk doing the same thing. Pretty cool! And validates our decision that little bit more
7. The loners
Don’t get us wrong, we love meeting fun new sociable solo travellers. It’s always nice to have more people buzzing around, and some of our funnest nights have started with everyone coming together at the hostel for a few drinks, then the night progresses from there! But we’ve also met a few sad saps who we’d call the ‘loners’. They follow your moves, and – despite an obvious lack of social chemistry – they’ll suggest travelling together, be oddly following your routes, and basically won’t take no for an answer. Makes you feel a little bit high-school, but you have to do the distanced snub. Slowly pare back the niceties, and eventually they get the message.
8. A guy who plays (unusual) musical instruments
It’s common traveller knowledge that there’s a ‘guitar wanker’ in every hostel. Well, sometimes they’re pretty good at the guitar and not all that annoying, but it’s still a bit cringe. Buy beyond guitar wanker, there is ‘unusual instrument guy’. We met one guy like this in a little hippy town in Argentina (the town declared itself a ‘non nuclear zone’!) and he had this weird instrument that was basically two wooden balls linked by a piece of string, apparently popular in his native France. He was amazing at playing them, and it made for a pretty fun night, along with a dude on the harmonica chipping in. He also had some weird metal flute thing that made a spacey whistle noise. I can’t help but feel these guys are probably destined to travel and I’m sure we’ll meet more), so they’re making the top 10.
The travel world is literally teeming with these guys. Hostel volunteers, volunteers on farms, on tours, at camps… They’ll tell you how great it is to work for free and have their accommodation and food paid for. They’re probably from a pretty wealthy family to begin with, but getting a thrill from ‘slumming it’ for a bit before entering the world of work. Nice enough people, but don’t believe everything they say about how much they enjoy volunteering… wait until you see them crying into their Skype screen to their mummies, wishing they could go home.
10. Ageing hippies
Obvious, yes, but they still deserve a mention. Found in hostels, in places like India, and South East Asia. They’ve been travelling, crusty style, for years, and they’ve somehow made it work financially. They look pretty poor but probably have a huge savings account that they’re slowly working through. Beats eeking out a tiny pension in rainy England though, right? Kudos to these wrinkly pioneers. Maybe one day that will be us.