What Kind of Traveler Are You?

We all have our own travel style. Some of us find that one place we love and go back to it year after year, while others of us can’t imagine going back to somewhere we’ve already been when there’s a whole world of places we haven’t been awaiting us. Some of us like the luxury of a star-filled sky as viewed from the tent we pitched in an isolated wilderness, while others of us prefer the luxury of a down-filled pillow as experienced from the bed of the Ritz in a bustling city. Some of us brave the revenge of Montezuma to consume local street chow, while others of us search for a restaurant exported directly from America. It all depends on what you’re comfortable with and what you want to get out of your travel experience.

Recently, while perusing the Washington Post’s Travel Blog, I became aware of a man named Stanley Plog, who has spent decades doing market research for the travel industry. He’s made finding out your travel style his job, so that companies can market to you and ultimately get you to invest your dollars in their products or services. As part of the process, he’s created a fairly standard bell curve of six categories into which travelers can be classified. Let me give you a brief synopsis.

  • Authentic Travelers (3% of the population): Prefer to go to places with established reputations, with similar amenities to home. Prefer group travel and often book tours. Prefer chain hotels and restaurants and often return to the same location. Travel less than other groups.
  • Mid-Authentic Travelers (17% of the population): Like Authentics, prefer to go to popular places and often return to the same place thought you’re slightly more likely to change things up. Prefer to drive rather than fly. Prefer good weather locations. Often prefer to stay at home and enjoy your own backyard, bbqs with friends, and other activities rather than travel.
  • Centric Authentic Travelers (30% of the population): Fairly broad travel interests but more middle-of-the-road. Prefer safe instead of the unknown. Like outdoor activities, but not necessarily adventure activities. Family travelers seem to fall in this category most often. Enjoy beaches and good weather destinations. For foreign travel, may prefer to do a tour.
  • Centric Venturers Travelers (30% of the population): Tends to mix things up–will travel by car or plane, stay at a mix of lodgings from B&Bs to motels to top hotels, etc. Enjoy going to cities with a fairly well developed infrastructure but doesn’t like over commercialized places. Returns to favorite places but only after a few years. Flexible, adaptable, and enjoys a diversity of places.
  • Mid-Venturer Travelers (17% of the population): Seeks out new places, prefers each trip to be different from last, enjoys historical locations. Likes adventurous travel but at night prefers a hotel room and restaurant to camping. Prefer to have an itinerary with places to visit and a schedule.
  • Venturer Travelers (4% of the population): Like to visit unknown and uncommon destination. Do not like tours or rigid itineraries. Attracted to unique cultures and adventure travel. Travel more often to more places than other people.

Aside from the face that the percentages add up to 101% (I’m sure some rounding was involved), it sounds pretty plausible. The question is where do we fit into it? Perusing the categories, I’d say that Jeff and I most likely fall somewhere between Mid-Venturer and Venturer. We seek out the new, the exotic, the unknown. We like adventure travel. We travel frequently. We don’t need hotels or restaurants and in fact, love to camp. All of this seems to put us in the Venturer camp. I will admit, however, that I am not completely free-spirited and do love me a good list, which would move me a bit in the direction of Mid-Venturer. And if all travelers are supposed to fit in this grid, I can’t imagine that we’re in that tiny 4% of the most adventurous travelers. After all, we aren’t those super hardcore people you read about in Outdoors Magazine or National Geographic Adventurer–the crazy people who heli-ski, scale the entirety of Mt. Everest, swim the length of the Amazon, take a dip in the waters of Antarctica, etc.

So that’s what I’d speculate. To find out for certain where I fit, I went to Mr. Plogs website and took his supposedly very scientific survey, which asks me to use a scale of 7 options from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree to reply to 15 statements and then uses a logarithm to determine into which category I fall. As it turns out, I’m a Mid-Venturer. Though some of the statements don’t really sum me up very well, it seems to be a relatively good fit. It was then Jeff’s turn to take the quiz, and I figured (wrongly) that he’d be the same. He actually ranked as a Centric Venturer, which neither of us thinks is a very good fit for him.

I find it a little silly to think that something as simple as 15 questions can determine what kind of traveler you are, especially 15 questions that don’t have a simple yes/no answer but require you to self-rank of a sliding scale. I’m a person of extremes, so most of my answers were either strongly agree or strongly disagree or the rank right next to those. To me, the middle numbers on the scale make little sense. Jeff, on the other hand, doesn’t self view himself as extreme in any measure so he hung close to the middle for almost all answers. If we actually discuss the statements outloud, however, we have very similar viewpoints. (I’d say our major difference would be in the questions about level of socialness as he is certainly much more outgoing than I am.)

Anyhow, the whole idea of it is interesting, even if the results aren’t, in my opinion, all that exact. I guess it would be unwise to expect more, considering the whole idea is to generalize the entire population into 6 categories. There’s always going to be some outliers.

So now for your assignment: Go take the survey (Plog Travel Personality Quiz in the middle of the banner toward the top), then come back and post your results in the comments along with your opinion about whether or not you think it’s a good characterization of you. And no one is excused from this assignment…that means all you lurkers too…ahem Inga.

(In all seriousness, if you read our blog, we’d really appreciate it if you would leave comments, regardless of whether we know you or not, whether you comment on other blogs or not, whether you’re scared I might bite… We’re trying to create a dialogue here, so please share your thoughts.)

16 Replies to “What Kind of Traveler Are You?”

  1. I have not taken the test yet. Sue me.

    But I think your plea for comments is interesting concerning the content of your post, which I define as an attempt to classify individual habits in relation to travel. I bet if you looked hard enough, there is probably a sliding-scale survey out there concerning one’s willingness/propensity to comment on blogs. And it there isn’t, I could see the concept showing up in my dissertation.

  2. Jeff a Centric and me a Mid Venturer? I think there is something wrong with this survey. I belong more in the middle and no I didn’t lie on the survey! Oh well, maybe I will take a super exciting trip sometime in the next 2 years!
    Maybe South America, or Africa? Perhaps even Southeast Asia. But then I might also go to Italy. I’m still trying to talk Dad into Ireland.

  3. As I was reading through the various descriptions I pinned myself as a mid-venturer. I went and took the quiz and, like yourself, found myself on the extreme end of the questions, except for three instances, when I was squarely in the middle. My answers proved myself a mid-venturer traveler. Though I think as I travel more I will find myself in a mix of the last three categories.

  4. I have not completely formulated my complaint, but I do think there is something stupid about those sliding-scale surveys. I assume they are designed to remove the binary structure of yes/no questions, but, in the end, I think the selection on a 7-point scale leaves a subjective nature in the hands of the responder.

    A perfect example of this is the far reaches of the scale — strongly agree and strongly disagree. What the hell does strongly mean? Is it only the strongest of strong opinions, or is it the top 1/7(and bottom 1/7) of opinion. Are people disinclined to mark super strong opinions? I think so. Would these polls lead to more appropriate responses if people knew how to interpret the 7-point scale? Furthemore, how much does a very strong response tip the scale in a 15 question quiz? Is there a set tipping point?

    I guess I’m just going to have to do some testing by changing my answers or looking for a journal or two at the library.

    [You would think I would know the answer, having a political science degree and all.]

  5. According to the test, I’m by definition, a fit between venturers and authentics, but with a leaning towards the venturer side.

    I think it’s because I love those crazy adventure people and I’ve always secretly wanted to scale Everest. However with my asthma, Clingmans Dome in NC is all I can bear.

    Leave it to the Libra in the group to balance everything out. I would much prefer to visit a beach with a 5 star hotel than to stay in a tent. However, we are going to Cancun next week. Hooray! Staying at a 4 star hotel all-inclusive, but I would like to try a small resort. Notice the word resort. I like and desperately need the comforts of my own home otherewise I may never leave except for a beach. I am a beach vacation seeker! Forget the mountains just give me a beach. Sing that last one to the Green Acres themes song!

    Also, I drink the water everytime I’m in Mexico and I’ve never gotten sick. Now I’ve just jinxed myself. Somehow I always forget to use the jug of water for brushing my teeth.

    T & J – I love the new domain! Can you just get rid of the picture of the snake?! i hate snakes and it scares me everytime.

  6. Matthew,
    That’s my main issue with the thing too. What the heck do all the numbers mean? The only ones that seem to have any meaning to me are the extremes, so I hover out there. I mean, what’s a 4? Does that mean I’m neutral or have no opinion? Let’s imagine it as this: 1=Strongly Agree, 2=Agree Somewhat Strongly, 3=Agree, 4=Neither Agree Nor Disagree, 5=Disagree, 6=Disagree Somewhat Strongly, 7=Strongly Disagree. So what’s the real scale of difference between them? How do I decide if I strongly disagree or just disagree somewhat strongly? I prefer yes or no questions.

  7. Lisa – Those aren’t snakes, that’s a caterpillar train! But if you’re still against it making your browser window narrower will get rid of that end of the banner.

    And I’m the other way on strongly agree/disagree. I always think, well, I agree, but since it’s not something I constantly think about I probably don’t agree with it as strongly as some, so therefore, I’m nearer to the middle. So I always end up in the middle ground. I think that’s how I ended up a centric venturer. But Matthew, I agree, you’ll get wildly varying responses to a set of questions like this, just in how they interpret the questions and their feelings over what “strong” means. To me it’s very strong and I rarely consider myself an extreme and always find myself in the middle ground, to someone like you and Theresa, you’re either neutral or strong, there’s not much middle ground.

  8. I guessed that I would be somewhere between a centric and mid venturer and the survey put me at mid. I love going to new and different places, but if I find some place I really love I have no problem going back again and again. I think it also depends on what the goals are for my travels. If I want to have a nice relaxing vacation I think it’s sometimes better to go somewhere I’ve already been or at least to go some place with nice hotels/resorts. Other times I’m more in the mood for adventure and then I have no problem with staying in a hostel or motel. I like camping, but only if camping and outdoors stuff is the purpose of the trip. I don’t think I’d want to camp and then spend the day doing touristy stuff and eating in restaurants.

  9. Wow! Spooky! Did you all take all of the photos? Pretty!

    Did your Mom mention to you all that I am collecting photos of STOP signs from all around the world – I’d love you all to take photos of them and send to me while on your trip.

  10. Yep, Lisa, they’re all pictures of ours from our various travels thusfar. Pretty much every major trip we’ve taken is represented in some fashion. And I think we can definitely gather up STOP sign photos … do they come in different colors and shapes? I always though of the red octagon as an international symbol.

  11. The survey placed me as a Mid-Venturer which I think fits me well. This probably stems from being raised by a mother who loves to travel yet will readily admit that her idea of “roughing it” is “a hotel without room service”. I find a lot of peace camping, but am not a big fan of roughing it for more than a few days. Thanks for the link!

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