by Annie 

Published: November 11, 2021

Updated:  April 8, 2022
discover what type of traveler you are

When it comes to independent travel and planning your own vacations, it’s helpful to understand what type of traveler you are. This is all about the elements that make travel experiences awesome for you. This includes the types of destinations you like to visit, what you enjoy doing while you’re there, and how quickly you like to move while you’re on the road. 

There are six different types of travelers I’ve observed over the years -- in myself, my traveling companions, clients, and other independent travelers I’ve met along the way. Understanding what type of traveler you are makes the travel planning process so much easier! It helps you focus on what’s most important to you instead of what someone else, or a guide book, says you should care about. 

There's not one right way to travel. These types are simply a starting point to help you identify what brings you the most joy when you’re out exploring. They’re also useful when planning a trip with others! Use these personalities as a guide when talking about your trip and look for places where your interests overlap with those of your travel companion(s). Keep in mind, we’re talking about independent travel -- getting to create your travel experiences exactly the way you want. 

The type of traveler you are may change over time (mine has!) or from trip to trip. You’ll probably identify with different pieces of multiple styles, since we humans are rather complex creatures. As you read through the different types of travelers, make a note of the parts that have you saying, “That’s totally me!”. At the end, we’ll talk about using these to plan your future trips in ways you’ll absolutely love! Let’s do this!

***This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a booking using the link, I receive a small commission at no additional charge to you. This helps me keep the lights on around here. I ONLY recommend products and services I personally use and love.***

6 Types of Independent Travelers - What's Your Travel Style? 

Each type of traveler has three major components: how they choose a destination,  what activities they like to spend their time on, and how quickly they move from place to place. Some types of travelers are drawn to bustling cities, others to natural wonders, and some like a mix of both. The pace of travel varies from those who are fast-moving, fitting as much in a day as they can, to slow travelers who like to spend long stretches in one place. 

Consider this your permission slip to focus your travels on the places and activities you love, while skipping anything that doesn’t really interest you. This means it’s okay if you go to Paris and don’t visit the Eiffel Tower! One of the most difficult parts of travel planning is taking a world full of options and narrowing them down to what you’ll enjoy most. Travel is not about checking items off a list, it’s about connecting with your destination in ways that are exciting and meaningful to you. No matter what type of traveler you are, if you're planning a trip to Europe, this guide will walk you through all the steps of creating an trip you'll love!

Now, let’s meet each type of traveler and see which ones you resonate with most!

The Nature Lover 

Destinations: This type of traveler seeks out the incredible natural wonders on this planet. They typically prefer destinations like Iceland or the Alps over London or Prague. If they choose an urban setting, Nature Lovers will mix in greenspaces with more traditional sightseeing. 

Activities: Nature Lovers are typically active, choosing to spend their days on the move. They’ll rent bikes or walk to get around a city rather than taking the metro. Out in nature, you’ll find them on hiking trails or having a picnic on the beach at sunset. Adventurous at heart, you may see these types of travelers wandering aimlessly or opting for some of the same activities as our Thrill Seekers. 

Pace of Travel: The pace of travel for this personality varies greatly! Some like to spend long stretches making time for every breathtaking vista, while others want to see the highlights and move on. If you’re this type of traveler, decide what activities and destinations you want to dedicate the most time to and build your itinerary around those. You can easily incorporate other stunning places as you move from one spot to the next. 

Recommendations: When it comes time for travel planning, think about renting a car so you can get out into the wilds you love so much! Since you prefer time outdoors to hanging out in your accommodation, you can save money by going with an option without all the frills. If you’re ready for a next-level adventure and saving a ton of money, pack up your camping gear and stay in campgrounds along the way. Check out local tours like kayaking or biking as a great way to learn more about your destination and meet other like-minded travelers. 

The Intellectual Type of Traveler

Destinations: Individuals who are this type of traveler choose destinations that have piqued their interest through books, documentaries, classes, art, etc.. Whether it’s the history, architecture, spiritual practices, or cultural traditions, they want to dive deeper and experience this place they learned about for themselves. Typically, this draws them to cities and small towns rather than natural landscapes. 

Activities: You can find Intellectual Travelers on special interest tours guided by locals and exploring museums around their destination. Their travels are driven by curiosity and a desire for knowledge. Any attraction that gives them more formal information about a place will be at the top of the list. They also enjoy cultural events and a cozy pub with traditional live music in the evenings. 

Pace of Travel: Intellectual Travelers tend to have a faster pace. In big, iconic cities, they can easily run themselves into the ground trying to do and see it all. If this is your travel style, give yourself some unplanned time in your days. You never know what you’ll stumble into and, in my experience, that’s where the magic happens.

Recommendations: Look for historical sites or old buildings that have been turned into accommodations for a fun addition to your trip. To help with your budget, see if your destination offers a Go City Pass. This is a pass that typically includes entrance to many of the museums, art galleries, and historical sites in an area all for one price. I’ve used these in London, Amsterdam, Paris, and Dubrovnik, all which saved a fair amount over purchasing each attraction separately. Many of the City Cards let you skip the line to get in as well and may also include public transportation. 

The Thrill Seeker

Destinations: Thrill Seekers are on the hunt for unique experiences that get their blood pumping. This can be anything from bungee jumping off a bridge to ghost hunting expeditions. You can find these folks in all sorts of destinations -- beaches, mountains, cities, small towns, etc. For them, it’s about the experience more than a specific type of place.

Activities: Anything that provides an adrenaline rush is on the list for this type of traveler.. You might see them ziplining through the jungle in the morning, taking a surf lesson in the afternoon, and dancing the night away at the local nightclub. Most of us are in awe of the endless amount of energy they seem to possess! 

Pace of Travel: Thrill Seeking Travelers like to be on the move. They tend to be the fastest moving travel style of them all. If you’re this type of traveler, it may be difficult to allow yourself downtime to relax when there’s so much adventure to be had. However, if you give yourself a minute to stop and soak it all in, you may find some surprises you would have missed otherwise. 

Recommendations: Decide which activities you can’t resist and check reservation requirements in advance. Many times, pre-booking is required, especially during high season. It’s a bummer if you wait until you get there and discover they don’t have space for you. For activities that require specialized gear, look into renting it in your destination so you don’t have to pack it all with you. If you’re going to be out and about most of the time, budget accommodations are a great way to save so you’ll have more money to spend on experiences! 

Off the Beaten Path Type of Traveler

Destinations: Off the Beaten Path travelers are the rebels of the bunch. This type of traveler seeks out the less-visited destinations where they can get away from the crowds. They want unique experiences and undiscovered wonders! If they choose a more popular destination like Berlin or Rome, they’ll be wandering side streets and exploring neighborhoods in addition to seeing the main sights. 

Activities: You can find these folks checking out offbeat museums for specific subjects. They’ll jump at a chance to see places like Espionage Museum in Berlin or the Sea Monster Museum in the West Fjords of Iceland, both of which are super fun and interesting! They may hop on public transportation and ride a few stops outside the tourist area just to see what there is to see. The Off the Beaten Path type of traveler loves love to wander aimlessly, anticipating something interesting around every corner.

Pace of Travel: This group of travelers tend to take things a little slower, especially in more popular destinations. Finding the hidden gems can take some time, after all! They want to make sure they have room to explore outside more than the most popular attractions.

Recommendations: Ask the hosts at your accommodations or the waitstaff at lunch what they recommend in your destination. Usually, they’ll start telling you what they think you want to see so be sure to ask what they like to do! If you can travel during the shoulder or off seasons, don’t pre-book all of your places to stay. Asking the locals where else you should visit in their country is a great way to find awesome places that aren’t in the guidebook! Check out the Atlas Obscura website for your destination as well. You’ll find lots of funky hidden gems there too.

The Soul Searcher

Destinations: Soul Searchers tap into their intuition when choosing a destination. These types of travelers are looking for places that will help them better connect with themselves and the world around them. Sometimes that’s a quiet place in nature. Other times, it’s a bustling city with thought-provoking history and culture. Their choices are based on what feels awesome rather than a list of specific sights they want to see. 

Activities: How Soul Searchers choose to spend their time will be decided the same way they choose their destinations -- intuition. You may find this type of traveler journaling at a café, visiting sacred sites, or attending cultural events. When visiting urban areas, they seek out green spaces to have a quiet place to sit with their thoughts. However, you might find them dancing the night away too. It all depends on what strikes their fancy and inspires them in the moment. 

Pace of Travel: How quickly they move about while traveling can vary greatly depending on how they’re feeling. If they’re not vibing with a place, they’ll move on, but if a destination captures their heart, they may choose to extend their stay. They’re just as likely to be sitting at the beach with a book as they are to be on the move from site to site. It all depends on how their energy is flowing that day.

Recommendations: If you’re this type of traveler, leave as much unplanned time as possible. If you can, travel during shoulder or off season so you don’t have to pre-book many accommodations or activities. If you do need to pre-book, choose refundable or no cancellation fee options so you’re not losing money if you change your mind on the fly. Be sure to keep a notebook or journal in your backpack so you can capture any flashes of inspiration or insight as you wander.

The Immersive Type of Traveler

Destinations: Immersive Travelers seek to get a sense of what life is like for the locals. They want to get to know the community and the destination, not just pass through it. You can find them in both big, popular destinations or off the beaten path spots. 

Activities: This type of traveler looks for activities that provide opportunities to connect with locals and the culture. You may find them on a food tour or taking a class from a local artisan, looking to connect with the essence of a destination. They enjoy simple daily activities like grocery shopping and taking a stroll in the park. This group likes to spend more time outside the main tourist areas, getting to know the neighborhood where the locals live.

Pace of Travel: This is where we find the slow travelers. The whole reason they travel is to get to know a place on a deeper level, which requires time. They want to find that cute little café where they get their morning coffee and become a regular.  

Recommendations: Find accommodations outside the main tourist areas, in neighborhoods where the locals live. Bonus -- this is a great way to save money! If you’re visiting a big city, choose a place to stay that’s near public transportation so you can easily explore different areas. Look for apartments or houses where you can create a sense of “home” and what day to day life is like in your destination.

Knowing What Type of Traveler You Are Helps with Planning

Which of the six types of travelers do you identify with when it comes to choosing a destination? How do you plan your days? How quickly do you like to move through a place? These answers will give you insights into what’s most important to you when you put together your next trip! 

When it’s time to start your travel planning, come back to this post and look through the different types of travelers again. Decide which elements you absolutely want to incorporate into your next adventure and start building your vacation around those! Independent travel is all about having the ultimate freedom to create experiences that will bring you the most joy. Check out this post about value travel for more tips on how to configure the different pieces of your trip to fit what’s most important to you. 

Once you’re clear on your priorities, it’s time to make them fit into the timeframe and budget you’re working. Here are some tips on finding cheap flights and choosing the right accommodation for your experience. 

Now, get out there! The world is waiting for you. 

Conclusion

If you want to learn more about planning your trips and meet other like-minded travelers, come over and check out the Indie Travel Collective! We get together regularly to talk travel, share stories and resources, chat in our portal (it's not on Facebook!), and learn from experts so we can travel smarter and save money. It's my favorite place on the internet these days.

Sometimes it's nice to just talk to a real, live person who's done the kind of travel you want to do. Maybe they've been to the place you want to go too! This is why I designed these travel consulting services specifically for fiercely independent travelers like you! You have a few options so you'll only get the information or assistance you want without turning your trip over to someone else. 

Your Turn

Which of these types of travelers resonates most with you? Does it change from trip to trip? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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About the author 

Annie

Fun Lover. Food Eater. Bold Explorer. Big Dreamer.

Annie is a fiercely independent traveler who loves to create unique and interesting experiences. She thrives on finding the magical moments and hidden gems waiting around every corner. Her passion for helping others make their travel dreams come true fuels her work as a travel planner, consultant, educator, and community builder.

  • It’s so difficult to choose just one! I feel like I’m a blend of a few of these types of travellers to be honest, but off the beaten path is probably the top one!

  • I am a mash-up of all styles except thrill-seeker, due to my mobility impairments. Variety is the spice of life. Therefore, I seek out destinations that offer a kaleidoscope of experences: culinary, cultural, creative, intellectual, natural, spiritual. I enjoy slow travel, where I can immerse myself in the life of the locals. I “travel like a local” when on the road and “live like a tourist” at home.

    • I love that! I’m a mashup too. I think most of us are. 🙂 I love your philosophy of “travel like a local” when on the road and “live like a tourist” at home! <3

  • Ooh! I think I might be a cross between nature lover and intellectual type of traveler. I love hiking and national parks but also love to visit the places I have read about in books or studied about in history, art, and theatre classes.

  • This was a really interesting read! I never thought about this but I’m quite sure I’m a mix of nature lover and immersive traveler 🙂

    • When you’re a mix, I recommend deciding about which elements you want to incorporate in your next adventure. Usually, I lean more toward one or two for each trip. 🙂

  • I absolutely adore the concept of this post! As I was reading, I realized I resonated with certain elements of a few, which I wasn’t expecting. I will definitely keep your insight in mind in finding destinations to match my style.

  • Love this! I’m definitely a mix of 3-4 of these! I’ll definitely try to find destinations that offer a bit of everything, and my inspiration can come from anywhere.

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