Travellers – what type are you?

Airports are brilliant spots for people watching – which lets face it, everyone loves. Well, I love it, and from time to time I have the luxury of undertaking it solo – without having to worry where three other family members are at any given moment, giving me the time to properly evaluate my fellow travellers and their ‘type’.

People watching is also a great sport if you are ever slightly, just a tiny bit judgmental and love to type people who you have never met and are most likely never going to based on what they look like, what they are wearing, carrying, doing or smell like. Obviously the total opposite of what I am like in real life…..

If you are lucky enough to have lived in other countries, or travel quite frequently, it can add an extra layer to the already pre-defined view you may have of a general population of citizens – something I mentioned when I wrote about the Inevitabilities of International Travel – a while ago.

Last week I returned from a relatively self indulgent ten day, three continent tour of birthday parties.  The first was my brother’s 40th held in Sydney – but he (and a surprisingly increasing number of my family on both sides live in the Bris-Vegas, Gold Coast area) so after a weekend in Sydney, I flew up that way to inspect their new abodes. Three days later to return via a 6am flight to the International terminal in Sydney to jet off to HK for a long weekend to celebrate what was labeled the ‘Festival of Lynette’ for another fabulous friend’s 40th. This leg of the trip was justified to the husband by way of – traveling on Frequent Flyer points which were about to expire anyway and going Cathay so a weekend in Hong Kong  just made perfect sense.

Anyway – the point is, with those flights plus my Durban – Joburg legs both ways I took eight flights in ten days and spent a lot of time in airports and on planes conducting the sport of ‘people watching’.

Despite my husband and I having enough combined points for me to have flown business class, I was in economy – which I suppose I should thank him for because it is by far the superior people watching arena.  Those in business class glide from the airline lounges onto the plane (via the short queue) and then disappear into their pods never to be seen again. In the cattle class waiting area and down the back on the plane is where all the action is.

What we all dream about when we get into the plane an empty economy section -but there's always 'the other travellers'

Here are some of my most spotted types on the trip

– the happy traveller, who knew but they really do exist, smiley and courteous at all points

– the grump – usually contented with looking unhappy but can also turn to their neighbour and unload their reason for unhappiness (which may or may not include a life story – but will definitely include commentary about why they didn’t get their preferred seating on the flight)

– the tracksuit wearing traveller

– the couple who are dressed to match (these can overlap with the tracksuit wearers, see above)

– the Family, which of course has extensive sub groups. Can be with one or two parents, the special sub type will depend on number of and age of children and if they have the dad that pops them all in their seats and then glides off to his business class pod never to be seen again until disembarking when he will have been first in the immigration line and gone ahead to ‘collect the baggage’. Special shout out here to the first time travelling family, an easy spot.

– the fashion conscious traveller, the one who boards looking perfect, has a perfect change of clothes for flight and then can somehow layer themselves again at the end of the flight to depart looking a million dollars

– the long distance, many flights, lack of access to shower facilities travellers

– the stressed traveller, always worrying about where their passports are, how do they complete question 4 iv) e on the immigration card, whether they will catch or miss  their connecting flight etc etc etc

– the relaxed traveller (quite an overlap with the happy traveller)

– the full make up traveller – no idea how its done, usually crosses over with the fashion conscious traveller, both types being a total mystery to me

– the person or people you saw at check-in and hoped you weren’t going to be seated near – who are in fact in your row if not immediately beside you

– the tour group traveller (a personal fave) wearing stickers and following flags

– experienced traveller, has made all the necessary pre-flight arrangements, looks quiet and comfortable, always drinking water

– the know-it-all (or the experienced traveller with irritating personality) gleefully sharing extensive knowledge across the tarmac and the plane

– the late arriver – you know the ones that turn up after the announcement ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, we are sorry for the delay – we are just waiting for a couple of passengers to arrive’ and then they do.

and last (but by no means least)

– the sleeper! Anywhere, anytime, any seat – eyes shut, dozes off immediately.

Of course there are many many more – what’s your favourite one here or which are the best ones I have missed?

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6 responses to “Travellers – what type are you?

  1. The arguing spouses who packed at 2am for a 6am flight and haven’t slept yet.

    *ahem*

  2. Prior to kids I was the chilled out, get me to the next airport traveller.

    Now I’m the mum with the meal spilled over her, the one trying to stop her 18 month old from walking up and down the aisle again and feeling everyone’s leg in the process, and the one referring fights for the iPad, wishing we had a magic nose like Samantha on Bewitched that would Get us to our destination in a wiggle of a nose!!

    • Yes – Bewitched may be the answer! The transition between traveller types can be very hard to take. Good luck with your re-emergence as the chilled out variety

  3. I really really wish I could be the sleeper, but no. I think I am somewhere hovering near the happy/relaxed/experienced traveller bits, but can very quickly veer into stressed traveller territory for no apparent reason at all.

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