We travel for different reasons and purposes. Traveling is an activity that encompasses a lot of things that it’s even harder now to box it in just one kind. The constant debate and comparison between a “tourist” and “traveler” had always been interesting but my personal take on this, which has been echoed by several people who have been on the road for long, it is a waste of time setting these two apart because one is conjoined with the other.
We wander. We explore. We travel.
I may not have been to many places or may still lack experience when it comes to traveling but I have picked up bits and pieces here and there that had me thinking about this passion of mine. When you are at an airport, you’ll see different kinds of people with different destinations. And for those who are going to the same place, each have different journeys as well.
Sometimes you travel just to unwind or to take a vacation and time off from the regular thing you do. Other times, it is because traveling is needed, whether for work or for learning or for something else. As I have come to interact with other travelers, I found out that there is now an increasing number of people who travel for a longer period of time, often staying in a place or on the road for an extended interval.
Let me share with you my discoveries and learnings, not necessarily factual, but more of my own observations about the varying types of traveling depending on one’s purpose and activities. This is not to create labels but to provide an understanding on the kinds of traveling people take and to know that there are varying needs for these types of travels.
Family & Friendly Visits
This is the most basic traveling that I have done. Our country, the Philippines, is an archipelago with 7,107 islands. Our culture, especially in the provinces, is known for close-knit families. During Christmastime, parties and reunions take place and there are people who travel to their hometowns just to reconnect with their roots. And with many Filipinos now living in various parts of the globe, reunions during special occasions, anniversaries, alumni homecomings, and festivals are customary.
My early travels, during my childhood years, were primarily composed of having a vacation for weeks or months with relatives every time we have our school break. I usually stayed with relatives living near the sea and I remember watching fishermen arrive with their catch every sunrise and collecting shells along the beach during sunsets.
These kind of travel would often involve bringing of goods from one place to another, such as food or souvenir items, as gifts to the people you visit or their gifts to you.
As I have begun working, I have met friends who share my passion for traveling. We love to explore and tour cities and towns, whether urban settings or the countryside. We often set a trip or two each year within the Philippines and abroad. Traveling within our country is mostly composed of going to the beach, snorkeling and island hopping while traveling abroad is filled with visiting famous landmarks and trying the local food.
We try to keep a low budget when we travel so we take advantage of low-fare airlines and promo fares, we stay in hostels or backpacker’s inns, we go around cities by local commute, and we eat in local eateries. It’s fun because we get to see how locals go about in their own place and experience those, too.
Since this travel would require a traveler mostly on the road and can move about easily, clothes to be used must be convenient and comfortable and the items brought must be packed lightly and compact.
My first trip abroad was to attend a seminar in Thailand. And for the first time, I have also crossed continents and have visited the United States because I had to attend a seminar in San Francisco, California, and moderate a particular session. Because of work, I have traveled to Indonesia and made Jakarta my home for seven months while granting me the opportunity to visit Bekasi, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Solo and Surabaya.
Many people travel for business.
Since business traveling would require attending social functions, suits and dresses that are apt for the occasion should be packed. Oftentimes, gadgets used for work, along with papers and notebooks are also brought for the trip.
This stands for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions. Whether you are a presentor, moderator, or participant, you have to be prepared to bring things needed for this purpose. Oftentimes, there are kits given out, which will add to your luggage. Attending such would sometimes require you to be cooped inside the hotel or venue and will only provide you with an opportunity to explore the place after sessions are done. Unless you extend for a few more days to tour the place on your own, then business travel becomes pleasurable. The good thing though is that business travel often billet you to posh accommodations where the setting of the MICE or business activities are held.
Business travels are often held in hotels and convention centers.
This is one kind of travel I experienced when I became adept with blogging. I have attended some familiarization trips where the organizer pamper you to give you the best experience they can offer. A fixed itinerary is prepared and some activities would require you to dress properly, whether for cocktails or a formal gathering. A fam trip is often given to the media or target market and the traveling party is expected to promote the trip through whatever means they have.
I went on one familiarization trip geared towards medical tourism. It opened my eyes to travelers who go to another place for medical purposes. One often does this because there are medical procedures that are cheaper in a particular country compared to where the traveler comes from. Those who do this also takes advantage of a vacation to recover faster. However, travelers who go for medical tourism must be prepared to bring the necessary items for the procedure, especially medications that the traveler must take while on the trip.
I have come to know of this kind of traveling when I was in the non-profit sector. Others call this voluntourism, but it has elicited a negative connotation to the development world. Some have coined this volunteer vacations. For those in school, they call this their gap year. Whatever it is called, traveling to volunteer is something that people see as worthwhile because there is a purpose and it effects change and impacts the local community. When I went to Vietnam and Cambodia, I found out that many travel and tour agencies offer this as an activity to tourists. Even in business traveling, volunteerism is often included as a corporate social responsibility activity for companies and organizations.
There are those who travel to volunteer to help the local community.
Those who volunteer travel does not bring much and they are prepared not to experience comfort nor convenience. They bring clothes that are appropriate when they “sweat it out.” Volunteering in a particular place, whether it is done in days, weeks, months or years, requires sacrifice but the returns are often fulfilling and priceless.
There are those who travel to study and this is often done in a year or two. Others take a short course which can run in days or weeks or a few months. I have experienced academic travel because my group and I had to do research in a local community and we had to gather data and observe the locals for a number of days. I also met a Polish girl and her friend in a train from Beijing bound for Shanghai because she was in China to study.
A person who travels for studies will have to bring materials that are being used for learning. He or she sometimes live in a dormitory, along with fellow travelers, such as exchange students.
One goes to another place through a pilgrimage. The whole journey is a prayer and a spiritual exercise to delve deeper into oneself and one’s faith. It is a process of spiritual communion with the divine. Others do this type of traveling to attend to a religious activity. My sister and I traveled from our province to Manila when Pope Francis visited it recently. During holy week, my friends and I visit a holy place to pray and reflect. There are some who go to a remote place as a spiritual retreat.
Many religious travelers go on a pilgrimage.
When you do religious travel, be sure to bring decent clothing and to experience the simplicities of life. An inspirational book or a holy literature is also a help when you bring one.
There are travelers who visit a place to play or to watch a big sporting event. With sports events happening all year round globally, sports travel is something that others do on a regular basis. I have once met a golfer who travel around the world just to play golf. Similarly, when I had to oversee organizing a golf tournament in our locality, there were several players who traveled from different parts of our country just for this event. When I was in Indonesia, surfers with their huge surfboards, were seen in the airport in throngs as they were bound for Bali and other parts of the country.
There are those who travel to play or to witness a sports event.
Those who travel to participate in a game would have to bring the necessary equipment, tools, uniforms and other essentials. They would be very particular when it comes to proper handling of their things.
There are a quite number of people who visit a particular place to commune with nature, study the natural habitat of that locality, and help preserve the biodiversity of the ecosystem. Some who backpack and/or take a vacation inject some form of eco-travel as there are many ecotourism activities that are being offered to travelers. Often, eco-travel is also being made in conjunction with volunteer travel.
There are those who travel to commune with nature.
Others travel for an entirely different agenda and purpose. There are some who mix many of the activities above. Terms such as fashion tourism, farm tourism, and many others are also cropping up as time goes by. You might want to add to this list. I’d be happy to learn more and hear from you. If you have something to share, please feel free to add them at the comments section below.