What kind of traveler are you?

My husband, a movie critic, says choosing a favorite movie would be like choosing a favorite child.

But, I have a favorite photo from Portraits.


An El Salvadoran girl carries a bucket, while her brother looks on.

Look at the girl’s reflection in the door. Look at her fine dress. I love how she isn’t looking into the lens, but her brother, lounging on a mound of sand, is. She gives the photo and photographer that feeling of being unobtrusive, which adds value in a portrait. In other portraits, the subject looking into the lens adds value by creating intimacy. These might seem more inviting:

I just dreamed of El Salvador. Pigs in the street; children; filthy, exploitative Americans having banquets behind closed doors, discussing low-income housing. I dream of Latin America often. My dreams recreate the homestays I did in ’97 and ’99. The quality of the dream itself is gritty, smoky, dusty, sandy. Is there any one word to describe the feeling of living on the edge? It’s like lust and fear and passion and hunger and hope and regret + logic, economy, fastidiousness, survival instinct + whole shifts in sensory spectra of sight, sound, taste, and smell–all rolled into one inhalation of brisk air at the top of a mountain; all cemented in memory by the shock of a cold sea splash while riding a hand-built ferry too fast to a place where time matters not.

You don’t just go and come back and it ends. There are aftershocks, waves, flashbacks, upheavals and shifts ongoing. If there is no residue from your travels–no resonance–then why go?

What kind of traveler are you?

The Anthropologist – blends in

The Representative – makes no effort to blend in – like Gordon has been in El Salvador a decade and speaks five words of Spanish, okay, maybe more. The Representative hunts for the latest USA Today among market stalls instead of bargains, and probably wouldn’t schedule travel abroad anytime our voting booths are going to be open.

The Tourist – wants to just skim the surface, see what’s popular–like showgoers in New York’s theater district being spoonfed their itineraries off a menu that just happens to be presented in lit-up marquees, stories and stories tall, like the Grand Canyon of advertising. Being seen holding a map of NYC in NYC is a dead giveaway and grounds for a stomping, thrashing, elbowing, or cab stolen out from under your nose. Or help with directions. Could go either way.

The Free Loader – wants to get as much for as little to the exclusion of all else

The Collector – likes to add to the list of places they have been; I know a couple who have a really cool Nat Geo push pin map in their house with color-coded pins to indicate places they’ve been, planned destinations, dream destinations, relatives’ dwellings, and genealogical roots.

The Loyal Lodger – returns to the same place year after year; may rent the same cabin or request the same room; has timeshares; enjoys earning miles and enrolling in bonus programs with hotels and rentals

The Dreamer – wants to stay in whatever paradise they visit

Expats are a unique breed, let me tell you. They often resemble the cinema stereotype of a person in the Witness Protection program.

*Tom Lewis contributed to this post. Follow him on Twitter @TomTravel2.

About MommyTheorist

Editor, writer, photographer, and new mom
This entry was posted in Photography, Psychology, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to What kind of traveler are you?

  1. Lee Kottner says:

    I’m the anthropologist type; I like to try to live like a native as much as I can. Like you, I often dream of the places I’ve been. Returning to London is a recurrent one. I still see myself wandering mazy streets around Covent Garden. But lately, I’ve been dreaming of Barcelona and getting a real hankering to go back there. It captured more of my heart than I suspected at the time.

    Your photos are beautiful. I never get good people pictures when I’m travelling.

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