Travel Types: What’s your style?

Kath Heiman — 16 December 2019
What sort of ‘travel type’ are you? Do you bounce around, or hang around?

It wasn’t until I met my husband Scott that I gave much consideration to my travel ‘type’. By that, I mean the approach that I take to opportunities for travel.

Since a young age, my family and I have tended to undertake road trips that involve covering large tracts of country over a defined (limited) period. 

Growing up in the UK, our summer holidays usually started with a ferry trip, with the car and tent, to France. From there, our compass was set across hundreds of kilometres of roadway. We’d scoot through the high roads and backroads of France, Germany, Italy and Greece, stopping briefly in the interesting little villages along the way to enjoy cake, olives, cheese and other cultural delicacies. And then we’d head off again.

Coming to Australia, this overlander mindset saw us venturing into the Vast Interior, ticking-off backroad kilometres at a rate of knots that was unknown to friends and family. For us, the journey itself was the purpose of travelling. The interesting sights and sites along the way added richness to the experience. 

It’s true to say that, for the first three decades of my life, I simply assumed that this was what travelling was all about. But this changed when I met Scott.

Our first decent road trip together occurred six weeks after our daughter was born. At this point, we took her on a 10 day, 2,500km drive from Canberra to Bribie Island near the Sunshine Coast. The purpose was to introduce our newest addition to the rest of the family. The enduring legacy of the journey was the realisation that Scott and I have fundamentally different ‘travel types’.  

It wasn’t the distance that bothered him. Scott spent his youth travelling between the NSW mid-north coast and Queensland’s central west. As the son of a surveyor, he was no stranger to unchartered country and, being part of a family of keen bow-hunters, he’d experienced plenty of long distance travel to hunt on remote properties at the invitation of owners. The difference was that Scott was accustomed to arriving somewhere and then — stopping. Sometimes for weeks at a time.  

So, for him, the point of travelling to Bribie Island was to reach the destination and to stay there. For the maximum available time. Viewed through this lens, my enthusiasm for adding interesting back-roads and village stops to our itinerary simply meant that it was going to take longer to ‘get where we were going’ and would likely see us packing and unpacking camp more often than was ‘necessary’. 

Reflecting back on these early days as a family unit, I wonder whether a person’s ‘travel type’ is something that’s hard-wired or whether it can change over time. Certainly, in Scott and my case, we’ve made adjustments over the years. 

Now, when we make our trip plans, it’s far more common for us to factor in stops of two to three nights, in favour of the overnighters of my youth. We don’t tend to potter around in every town with an interesting-looking museum or antique shop along the way (although sometimes we’ll make an exception!). 

And, with geographically dispersed family friends who have kids our daughter’s age, we periodically plan get-togethers that see us making a beeline for an agreed location — preferably with a pool and a beach nearby — where we’ll convene for four to five days.

So, is there really such a thing as a ‘travel type’? Well, if you search social media there are certainly plenty of people willing to tell us there is. From ‘Escapist’, to ‘Planner’, to ‘Guidebook Follower’, to ‘Connector’, to ‘Explorer’, to ‘Frequent Weekender’, to ‘RV Traveller’, there are no shortage of labels to help us describe our individual preferences. But I’m not sure that any of them do justice to the vast diversity of travellers and the different ways that we might approach our time in the outdoors. 

The important thing to realise is that all of us are different and compromise is an important part of ensuring that everyone enjoys their time away. While it’s understandable that marriage and having a kid has seen me compromise my preferred ‘travel type’, I don’t think that I’ve changed at a fundamental level. My former ‘Stop – Go’ travel style is still part of who I am. I simply find that, these days, I’m involved in longer ‘Gos’ between ‘Stops’ — and longer ‘Stops’ between ‘Gos’.  

But I’m not really complaining.  

Living on a 7.6 million square kilometre continent, sometimes it makes sense to keep the foot on the ‘Go’ button for a bit so that we get to visit somewhere new. And once we’ve arrived, the longer we ‘Stop’, the more opportunities we have to check out all the great things on offer in the local area. Whether it’s exploring our natural surrounds, or checking out local wineries, cheesemongers and butchers — there are usually plenty of reasons to slow down for a while. 


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