My childhood home must have been right under the flight path of either the Baton Rouge or New Orleans airports because at any given time I could spy an aircraft somewhere overhead. My young mind would wander as I envisioned the lucky passengers and crew taking off for some bustling city or, better yet, an exotic location.
Later when my family relocated to the Dallas area my jaw hung in astonishment at how huge the sky appeared. That first night, I stood outside admiring the massive number of bright stars in the sky. How can there be so many, I wondered, after all we were near two major cities. Instantly, I realized the stars were moving – all of them. The stars weren’t stars at all, they were aircraft in holding patterns – each plane arriving then departing. I knew I wanted to be a traveler.
As a child and teen it didn’t occur to me that there are different types of travel. For me, it was all the same. Get on a plane and go! Today Since rejoining the airlines, I’ve welcomed a variety of travelers aboard my flights. While this short list doesn’t come close to reaching every type of traveler, here a few of the recent travelers I’ve had on my flights:
Business Traveler. You can pick a traditional business traveler from a mile away. The most common image is a spiffy suit, shiny shoes, a laptop bag in one hand and a carry-on rollerboard in the other. These people have earned first class privileges and some fly as much as the flight crews. A Bluetooth headset frequently finished off the look. Of course, not every person traveling for business is a suit wearing professional. For example, just in the last two weeks I’ve had a rock band and actors aboard.
Luxury Traveler. Plush bedding, valet parking, on-site spas, soft bathrobes, five-star dining….oh, the glorious experience of upscale travel. I’ve always associated luxury travel with my co-writer Jennifer (SoCalGal) since she’s been writing about the topic for years. Not to mention I think she’s been to Hawaii more than anyone I know – and if that’s not luxury, I don’t know what is.
Family Traveler. You’ve either seen one or been one. Traveling with children is one of the bravest things parent can do. Trying to contain a two-year-old in an airplane seat is not an easy feat (all the more reason to bring along the car seat or CARES harness and entertainment). Even though summer is over there are still families traveling. Some are visiting family while others are heading to Disneyland for a long weekend. Some families stick with the road trip experience like we did this summer during our Montana, Colorado and South Dakota trips. The good news is that traveling with children does get easier the older they get.
The Backpacker. There’s a lot of minimalist travelers out there and I admire their “go where the wind takes you” attitude about travel. Do a Google search for backpack blogger and a long list of blogs will pop up. Some are exploring the world, one country at a time, while others venture out with a budget itinerary in mind – with only a backpack in tow. Talk about exciting!
Adventure Traveler. My co-writer Kara (ColoradoGal) seems to fit in this category every time she hits the road. Since I’ve known her she’s been skydiving, snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding, surfing, and the list goes on – this gal is simply drawn to adventure. Some travelers make their entire trip adventure-filled with events such as cycling, boating, and camping.
The Travel Writer (aka The Press Trip Attendee). This breed of travelers has been around for a while and has recently spread to the blogosphere. This type of traveler has found a way to have their travel funded by someone else. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t “free” travel, there is a “cost” and it comes in the exchange of the written word via print or online publications. Tourist boards, convention and visitors bureaus and other destination businesses sponsor group or individual trips to land exposure for their clients. Normally (but not always) the experience offers luxurious lodging with jaw-dropping views, top-quality culinary and spirits experiences, and a busy itinerary complete with interviews with chefs, brief visits to popular landmarks and highlights, and sometimes as many as five or six tours of local resorts. There ends up being plenty to write about. Sometimes exhausting, these experiences are fun and you don’t have to lift a finger for planning – your airfare, ground transportation, meals and hotel reservation is usually always preplanned and all you have to do is show up with a pen in hand. It sounds dreamy doesn’t it?
I’d love to continue with other traveler genres and perhaps I’ll write a followup post. In the meantime, I’ll let you tell us what type of traveler you are. Do you fit into any of the above? How about all of the above? Do you have another category such as nomad, themeparker, or just plain spontaneous?
As for me, I’m a little of each – well, not the backpacker. I tend to carry a lot of shoes.