I’m halfway through cooking a dinner of Ramen Noodles at my three-dollar-a-night hostel in Mexico, and suddenly it dawns on me: I haven’t showered in two days, I have ten pesos in my pocket, and I slept in a cave last night. God dammit, I thought, I’m turning into a traveling stereotype.
To help you avoid the same dark path, I’ve composed a “Field Guide” to traveling stereotypes. If any of the following descriptions start to sound a little too familiar, put down your plate of Ramen Noodles and run. I said, Run, dammit!
The Frugal Backpacker
Description: You’re eager to see the world, even if you don’t exactly have the funds to pay for it. In fact, a person takes a leak with more forethought than you gave to your financial situation before this trip. You barely scraped together enough cash to fly standby to your destination, and your tentative plan is to return in the hull of a cargo ship. Your budget is roughly $2.50 per day, including approximately $0 for gifts for friends and family. Thirty percent of your body is composed of Ramen Noodles.
Aesthetic: Ebenezer Scrooge meets A Map for Saturday
- Turn-ons: Free refills, haggling over miniscule amounts of money, sleeping in bus stations, raiding wishing wells (I’ve heard)
- Turn-offs: Shampoo, any accomodation ending in the word “hotel” rather than “hostel”
- Won’t go near: An ATM
The Business Traveler
Description: You travel with the joyless efficiency of someone who’s spent far too much time drinking overpriced cocktails in airport restaurants with names like “Blue Skye Bar and Grille”. You can visit a Panda Express at any airport in the world and order “the usual.” When taking your seat in a crowded airplane, you clog the aisle for several minutes while folding your sport jacket like you’re in the color guard at Arlington National Cemetery.
- Aesthetic: Steve Forbes meets immaculate luggage
- Turn-ons: USA Today, expense accounts, looking snazzy
- Turn-offs: Crying babies, the middle seat
- Won’t go near: Coach
The Over-the-Hill Backpacker
Description: Your grandchildren set up a travel blog for you before you left six months ago. It still says “Under construction. Come back soon!” You love sleeping in hostels but don’t understand why the kids have to turn their damn music up so loud.
You wake up before most of your fellow backpackers go to bed. You’re heartened by other backpackers who frequently tell you, “I hope I’m still doing this when I’m your age.” You inspire travelers pretty much wherever you go.
Aesthetic: Lonely Planet meets Centrum Silver
Turn-ons: Bran cereal, getting up early, bringing all your medication with you for the next six months
Turn-offs: Updating your blog, Florida retirement communities, loud damn music
Won’t go near: ‘Nam, Korea
The Luxury Traveler
Description: You’re still vexed by the fact that you can’t find ice cubes in Europe. As noted in The Onion, you frequently tell people that you “love Brazil” despite the fact that you’ve only seen two square miles of it. You stay away from street food because you’re certain it will give you some combination of AIDS and leprosy. Your main concern before a trip is what kind of rental car you’re going to get. You still have a travel agent for some reason.
Aesthetic: Conde Nast Traveler meets Samantha Brown
Turn-ons: Conspicuous consumption, bell hops, a detailed itinerary, blowing your children’s inheritance
Turn-offs: Hostels, street food, people who don’t speak English
Won’t go near: India, except Goa