It doesn't matter where you are in the world, walk into a backpacker hostel and the same spectrum of faces will look back at you. Most will become friends. The “lone rangers” always find the party and the “cultural sponge” is often more informative than a local guide.
But there are some travel personalities you definitely want to avoid.
I travel to meet new people and most of them are great, even if their chronic over packing contrasts with my more minimalist style. But there are a few travel personalities that will test the sanity of any backpacker, myself included.
The Bearded Exaggerator
I appreciate a good beard as much as the next man (maybe even more so because of my complete lack of ability to grow one myself). The problem is that there's often someone with a massive beard, who spends his entire trip talking about how much more authentic his trip was than yours, because whatever you've done is too touristy.
The longer the beard, the more bizarre the story, until it's covertly suggested that the beard itself has had a better travel experience than you. Every conversation somehow swings back around to some impossible story and place that the Bearded Exaggerator has been.
The thing is, no matter how outlandish your own experiences are, there's always a traveler with a beard who will claim to have gone a step further. AVOID AT ALL COSTS.
The Destination Dampener
One of my favorite feelings about traveling is the excitement. Every destination, every attraction, every journey…I'm always buzzing about the unknown.
Some people don't seem to get it.
You're on the bus getting goosebumps from the views, and there's one backpacker convincing everyone that this dream place is actually the definition of misery. They'll always find something to rant about. Spend too long with them and you'll start focusing on a single scrap of garbage instead of the unending wonder of where you are.
Nothing kills my travel buzz more than a day with a Destination Dampener. Sure, few places are perfect, but they are what you make them and there's always inspiration to find.
The Five-Star Dollar Squeezers
Bargaining for the price is a daily part of traveling. And I love to haggle. But some people just go way too far.
I don't think there's anything wrong with paying a few cents extra when you're supporting local communities and local people. Some people stay in internationally-owned resorts on a tour from an international company, yet try to squeeze every dollar they can out of the locals. And then they audaciously complain that the local people aren't very friendly, all the while waving a telescopic camera in their faces and arguing that a coke should be 50 cents instead of 75.
Where people spend their money is up to them. Unfortunately, the five-star dollar squeezers spread distrust and paranoia about very friendly local people.
The Wannabe Guitarists
The guitar can be a beautiful instrument. And it features in some of my favorite travel memories. But how many sunsets have been ruined by a beginner guitarist clumsily plodding through the same Jack Johnson song that everyone else tries to learn?
Or how many great conversations were stopped because the Wannabe Guitarist blasted out Wonderwall by Oasis and expected everyone to start singing?
Let me be clear. I've nothing against a guitar. But try to avoid the musicians who readily ruin the atmosphere by choosing the most inopportune time to practice!
Surely you aren't one of these four. But could you be the Chronic Over Packer, the Cultural Sponge, the Lone Wolf, the Planner or the Minimalist? Take this quiz from Bags to Go to find out!