Results for tag "travel-personalities"

Why Traveling without a Plan Isn’t Always a Good Thing

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll have learned a few things about me:

1. I’m terrified of alligators (but I mean, who isn’t?) and flying

2. If I see inanimate object, I have a compulsive need to take picture with it

AND…

3. I love traveling without a plan

And while I could write several blog posts about my reoccurring alligator dreams, I’ll spare you that and instead focus on that third item on the list: my love for unorganized, spontaneous, last-minute travel adventures.

Reannon on the bus in Paris, France

Here’s me on the bus in Paris

I love the flexibility of not having a set schedule when I travel. I like the idea that if I arrive somewhere and want to leave earlier than planned or stay an extra day, I can. I like keeping my options open.

But mostly, I hate the alternative. Because NOT traveling without a plan would mean that I’d have to travel WITH one, and that’s way too much like work. Researching train schedules, creating packing checklists, plotting routes on maps…blech, no thanks. I’d rather take the procrastinator approach to travel and just figure it out once I get there.

Nomadic Matt thinks that this is a side-effect of the vagabond lifestyle and that nomadic personality types, by nature, enjoy living in a world of infinite possibilities. Or as Matt says:

“I think real long-term vagabonding makes you commitment phobic, at least it has for me. When you are a perpetual nomad, you can do what you want. You have a million travel ideas circulating through your head. But the second you commit to any one, all the other travel balloons burst.”

I concur, Matt. I really do…

But.

Sometimes traveling with a plan doesn’t work. Like when you’re in Europe and on a strict budget and a tight schedule. That’s when being organized and planning things out in advance is not only helpful, it’s necessary.

I had to learn that the hard way when I was in London a few weeks ago and tried to book a last-minute Eurostar train ticket to Paris. My friends had all (wisely) booked theirs a few months earlier, when the tickets were still 30-something pounds (roughly 60 dollars US). Not knowing that train ticket prices in Europe aren’t set (they fluctuate as widely as airfare prices), I figured that I could wait until a couple of days beforehand to reserve my spot and the price would be the same (or close to it).

Yeah, not so much.

When I went to go book the ticket online, the price was over 300 pounds (close to 700 dollars US), which was WAAAAAAY too much to spend for two days in France. And although I wanted to call it quits right then and there, at that point I’d already promised my French friend I’d visit her and she’d taken time off of work in order to see me…So I was stuck. I had to go.

Which was why, while all my friends took a couple-hour train ride to Paris, I took an 11-hour overnight bus and ferry ride instead. While the bus/ferry combo was a lot cheaper (only 40 dollars or so), it nearly ruined the only full day I had in Paris. I spent the entire next day, staggering up and down subway steps and groggily stumbling out of the bus to take photos of the Louvre, tired and grumpy and too dazed and exhausted to really fully enjoy anything.

ANYWAY, now I know. Traveling without a plan is fine and well if you’re going for say, a week-long vacation on a small island in the Caribbean. But if you’re trying to visit seven cities in nine days and you’re hoping not to go broke in the process, well, booking ahead is really your only option.

How do you like to travel? Do you enjoy planning for a trip or do you find it to be a chore?

 

Why I’m Jealous of “Third Culture Kids”

I guess I’ll start this blog off with a confession: I’m not a third culture kid. Not really anyway. Though I spent the first half of my childhood in Hawaii and the second-half in New York, until college I’d never spent a significant amount of time outside of my home country. But I wish I had. I’ve always been slightly jealous of those kids who could could say they were born in Paris, but grew up in Manila, Istanbul and Jakarta…it just sounds so glamorous.

multi-racial group of children wearing kimonos

Don’t these kids look blissfully happy? Korean kimonos are their normal.

This is a sentiment I share with writer and native-New Yorker Sloane Crosley. Here’s an excerpt from her book I was Told There’d be Cake:

If I ever have kids, this is what I’m going to do with them: I am going to give birth to them on foreign soil—preferably the soil of someplace like Oostende or Antwerp—destinations that have the allure of being obscure, freezing, and impossibly cultured. These are places in which people are casually trilingual and everyone knows how to make good coffee and gourmet dinners at home without having to shop for specific ingredients. Everyone has hip European sneakers that effortlessly look like the exact pair you’ve been searching for your whole life. Everything is sweetened with honey and even the generic-brand Q-tips are aesthetically packaged. People die from old age or crimes of passion or because they fall off glaciers. All the women are either thin, thin and happy, fat and happy, or thin and miserable in a glamorous way. Somehow none of their Italian heels get caught in the fifteenth-century cobblestone. Ever.

This is where I want to raise my children—until the age of, say, ten, when I’ll cruelly rip them out of the stream where they’re fly-fishing with their other lederhosened friends and move them to someplace like Lansdale, Pennsylvania. There, they can be not only the cool new kid, but also the Belgian kid. And none of that Toblerone-eating, Tintin-reading, tulip-growing crap. I want them to be obscurely, freezingly, impossibly Belgian. I want them to be fluent in Flemish and to pronounce “Antwerpen” with a hint of “vh” embedded in the “w.”

Why go through all the trouble of giving a ten-year-old an existential heart attack by applying culture shocks like they were nipple clamps? Because, ten-year-olds of the world, you shouldn’t believe what your teachers tell you about the beauty and specialness and uniqueness of you. Or, believe it, little snowflake, but know it won’t make a bit of difference until after puberty. It’s Newton’s lost law: anything that makes you unique later will get your chocolate milk stolen and your eye blackened as a kid. Won’t it, Sebastian? Oh, yes, it will, my little Mandarin Chinese–learning, Poe-reciting, high-top-wearing friend. God bless you, wherever you are.

Uniqueness is wasted on youth. Like a fine wine or a solid flossing habit, you’ll be grateful for it when you’re older. Naturally, being born in a foreign country is not the only coolness savings bond out there, but it is an automatic vehicle into self-possession if there are no other cars on the road. Maybe you don’t come from the mansion on the hill or the worst shack at the foot of it. Maybe you’re not religious or a spelling bee prodigy. Maybe you’re not the youngest of nine kids or the child of a B-list movie star. Oh, but imagine if you had a South African accent. At least foreign citizenship is something you can point to and say, “This is where I come from. This is who I am.”

Though I’m sure, like anything, it’s only glamorous when you’re not the one experiencing it. These multilingual, multiple-Passport-wielding boys and girls (known as “Third Culture Kids”…seriously. It’s a real term used by social scientists. You can look it up), don’t identify with the culture of their home country nor any of the other countries they’ve lived and instead identify with a third, one-of-a-kind hybrid-culture . And I’m sure that for some, belonging everywhere and yet NOWHERE can be it’s own brand of suckiness. New York Times writer (and former Third Culture Kid who spoke unaccented American English as a child despite having never set foot on American soil) described it well when she wrote:

“To many sons and daughters of business executives, diplomats, military officials and missionaries, a passport is little more than a travel document, for it does not necessarily denote where “home” is.”

Third Culture Kids are “citizens of the world” in the truest sense of the term. And though that may sound tres magnifique, I’d imagine not having any one place to call home has got to feel pretty darn depressing at times.

But still…Wouldn’t it be cool if I had a Danish accent right now? Or a Brazilian one?

What do you think?

For more on this subject (yep, I’ve written about this before!) check out: Travel, Soul Mates and a Book about Mormons.

 

Travel addiction is real! Introducing “Dromomania” and “Drapetomania” (Mad Travelers Disease!)

Do you suffer from either one of these travel compulsions? Read on to find out.

dromomania

The term Dromomania comes from the Greek “dromos” (running) and “mania” (insanity) and was considered a real mental disorder in the 1880s through to  the early 20th century in France. The illness, also known as “Mad Travellers Disease”, was attributed to a handful of people who were hospitalized after impulsively taking off on an extended trips abroad and then returning home weeks or months later with little recollection of what had occurred while they were away. Though today this would simply be referred to as “college Spring Break”, back then it was considered serious enough to warrant documentation in several scientific journals.

The diagnosis, however, is officially no longer recognized as a mental illness in France or elsewhere…as of right now, anyway. I’m thinking that perhaps it’s time we petitioned to bring it back?

Solitary figure on snow covered hill

Back in the 1850s, American slave owners sought to understand why their slaves’ seemed compelled to  run away from their owners homes on the plantations. Because people had to be crazy to want to flee captivity (wanting their freedom wasn’t a good enough of a reason, I guess) doctors attributed the slaves’ behavior to a mental disorder they called “Drapetomania”.

These days Drapetomania is considered an example of racist pseudoscience (and rightly so!) but wouldn’t it be nice if next time you’re packing your bags for a move to China or a backpacking trip to Chile and your friends ask you for the upteenth time “What is WRONG with you?!” you’d be able to explain their frustrations away with a simple “I can’t help it.  I have Drapetomania”?

What do all travelers have in common?

Whether you’re young or old, shy or outgoing, an optimist or a pessimist, if you’re a traveler, then chances are that you share this one quality with other travelers: open-mindedness.

The personality trait “openness to new experience” is one of the traits described in the Five Factor Model. People who score high in this personality trait are natural-born travelers and adventure seekers. They seek out new experiences and are drawn to creative pursuits and anything that’s novel or unique.

Open personality types are also more likely to:

* Have an active imagination

* Be in touch with their feelings

* Crave variety

* Posses a love for learning

* Have a willingness to engage in self-examination.

* Be able to make connections between two remote ideas

* Remember their dreams

Though not EVERYONE who travels scores high in the openness trait, I would assume that most who embrace travel as a lifestyle (I.e, the permanent nomads of the world) come pretty darn close.

What do you think? Would you say this true of you?

Ah, kids today. They don’t know the meaning of ‘play’! Seriously.

children making mud pies

Photo by JBColorado.

I loved the article “Do you know where your children are? Is that always a good thing?” that appeared on NPR.com a couple of months ago. It addressed the issue of play and adventure and how today’s generation of kids are, for better or for worse, being robbed of the opportunity to jump in swamps, climb trees and play unsupervised. According to the article, children spend an average of just 30 minutes playing a week. Here’s an excerpt:

 ”Richard Louv, a columnist for the San Diego Union-Tribune, worries that bugs and creepy crawly things may become more alien, more “other,” if kids stay out of the woods. All over the world, children may not be getting to explore plants and animals in natural settings on their own. That’s a loss, he thinks. Will they know what they’re missing? In 2005, Louv asked a fourth-grader in San Diego where he liked to play, indoors or out? The kid said, “I like to play indoors better ’cause that’s where the electric outlets are.”

So maybe you’re thinkin’, “So what if kids would rather play with a Blackberry than go pick one? What does it matter if children’s definitions of fun has changed in the last 20 years?”

Well, according to this study, children’s ability to be creative and to invent original ideas and imaginative solutions has been on the decline since the 1970s. According to the researchers cited in the article, the possible culprits involved include standardized testing in schools (“You can do well on a test by studying a lot, but it won’t encourage original thinking”), the increase in hours children spend each day on “passive activities” like watching TV and – yep, you guessed it- the decrease in imaginative play.

So, to recap: kids aren’t playing as much anymore = kids aren’t as creative =  kids will grow up to become unimaginative gadget-obsessed bores.

Yikes. Should be we scared?

What do you think? Should we be worried that children are being robbed of the joys of mud pies and bug collecting? Or are people making a big deal out of nothing?