There are as many different types of travellers (or tourists) as there are types of people.
Some people are thrifty, some spend on luxury items.
Some rather relax at home by watching TV, some go out in the mountains to hike.
And on, and on, and on!
So why would it differ for tourists?
Is it different types of tourists or different types of travellers?
The definition of a tourist is “a person who is travelling or visiting a place for pleasure”.
The definition of a traveller is “a person who is travelling or who often travels”.
I’d say it’s pretty similar. I believe that travellers travel for pleasure as well, haha. Or that “often” is quite an ambiguous word. Like, who decides what “often” means in terms of travelling?
Does it matter what type of tourist or traveller I am?
Well, it doesn’t actually matter that much.
First of all, it’s just interesting to know what type you are, and second, it might be helpful to know what types of tourists you are when researching your next trip. Or, even more so, if you want someone else to tailor your vacation.
If you’re an adventure traveller, you will most probably not enjoy a trip that’s full of visiting museums. And if you’re a budget traveller, staying in a five-star all-inclusive luxury hotel probably will not be for you.
Related: how to plan your vacation
What are the types of tourists in the travel and tourism industry?
In the travel industry, tourists are identified by psychographic and demographic definitions. The demographics are, of course, the standard ones: age, income, occupation, location, and family status. The five psychographic types of tourists as identified by Stanley C. Plog are allocentric traveller, near allocentric, mid-centric, near psychocentric, and psychocentric.
Allocentric tourists are extroverted in their travel choices. They prefer travelling alone and is adventurous.
The psychocentric traveller is one who will choose something familiar instead of something new. These are the types of tourists that go to the same destinations every vacation and prefer the all-inclusive options. If they do some activities, they’ll stick to what is included in the itinerary of the events.
The mid-centric type of tourists is, as the name suggests, somewhere between allocentric and psychocentric. They are not exactly adventurous, but occasionally they’ll try something new.
The near-allocentric falls somewhere between allocentric and mid-centric and near-psychocentric types of tourists fall somewhere between mid-centric and psychocentric.
Different types of travellers
But those terms are really not used that widely, haha. That’s why here in this article I will not be going deep into the academic tourism types, but rather I’ll be describing different types of travellers that are showing up all around the internet.
Because, you know, if you want to find specific information online about the type of travel you want to do, looking up “allocentric” will not bring you answers!
Well, these are, obviously, not all of the types of travellers that are out there – that list would be pretty endless! These are some of the most popular or some that I found especially interesting. Enjoy!
Types of travellers grouped by travel budget
Big monies? Small monies? Different people travel on different budgets, and it’s completely understandable. You don’t need to throw lots of cash around to enjoy places. Here are the most popular types of tourists based on how much money they spend on their trips.
As the name suggests, budget travellers spend as little as possible when they go travelling. They don’t have a lot of money to spend, so they try to find the cheapest flights (don’t we all generally?), the cheapest accommodation, and activities.
Backpackers are a part of the budget travellers, with the difference that they have so little stuff with them that it can fit in a backpack. Backpackers, just like budget travellers, spend as little as possible.
Related: how to choose the best hotel for you
On the opposite end of the spectrum, luxury travellers don’t care how much money they spend on their vacation. They’ll stay in the luxuriest of accommodations, go to expensive restaurants, and if they fly, probably do so in the business or first class.
This is where we fall when we travel. We don’t really stay in luxury accommodations (with some exceptions, such as a ryokan in Japan), travel economy on the plane, but at the same time won’t stay in hostels even if it would make the trip more reasonably priced, such as Patagonia for example. We don’t go overboard with spending on the trips but still like our comfort.
Activity-based types of travellers
Different people like different activities, so it makes sense that there are travellers that prefer something more adrenaline-inducing than other things. So it makes sense that one of the most popular ways of defining types of travellers is based on activities!
Active travellers, such as we are, will look for active activities in the destination they are going to. An interesting hike, ziplining, canyoning and so on. Some of their activities are adventurous, but mostly they’ll be nothing crazy.
We are active travellers who mix in some much-needed relaxation on our vacations as well.
The next level of active travellers, the adventure seekers will try and do any adventure activity they can find. They might go to Dubai for the single reason to do parachuting. Go to the Philippines not to lounge on the beach but go diving. Or go to the Maldives to enjoy feeding sharks.
If you mention to a foody that you’re going to Naples, they’ll know that that’s where pizza is originally from and the restaurant where you can try the best pizza.
They’ll know that in Japan, it’s not just sushi you need to try.
Or, if you want to try a guanaco filet, you have to go to Patagonia.
Basically, food might not be the main reason a foody travels, but he definitely will try the best – and most original – food a place has to offer.
Wherever these guys go, they want to experience at least something that’s typical or special for the destination.
It can be having sushi in Japan, it can be riding a gondola in Venice, it could be visiting Louvre in France…
These types of travellers don’t have specific types of activities that they love, just that they want to experience the best the destination has to offer.
Cultural travellers love to enjoy everything cultural the place they go to offers, such as museums, galleries, and historical sites. But not just that – they love to learn everything about the culture of the people of the place that they visit. They love engaging with locals to learn more about the history and everything else about the location.
Religious travellers or pilgrims
These types of travellers enjoy checking out everything religious the location has, such as churches, cathedrals, mosques, and others. Generally, religious tourists like to visit places connected to their own religion, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be like that. Visiting pilgrimage trails such as Camino de Santiago can be considered religious tourism as well.
Is there a spa available at the destination? No? So what’s the point of going there?
Exaggerated, of course, but relaxation-lovers prefer places where they can just, well, relax. Lounge by the pool or by the beach, just walk around the place slowly without making any extra effort. Go for a dinner and repeat.
These types of travellers are most likely to go to all-inclusive hotels and just relax.
We occasionally do just that, even in Japan.
Where they generally go makes different types of tourists
Whether the traveller goes, there’s a name for it.
Domestic travellers like to explore their own country. Instead of going to that incredible tropical island, they’ll go to an ice cave that is just a few hours’ drive from their home.
Obviously, some countries have more options to explore and enjoy. The USA, in my opinion, is much more suited for long-term domestic tourism than Monaco, haha.
As opposed to the domestic traveller, international travellers are a type of travellers that will first and foremost go abroad for their trips. They either don’t care about their home country or leave its exploration for those times when they can’t go abroad.
Of course, for us, Europeans, it’s much easier to travel internationally than for people who come from huge countries. That’s why we often travel internationally in Europe.
These types of travellers spend most or even all of their vacation time in nature. They don’t care about cities, museums, or architecture. Give them mountains, forests, or the sea!
And again, as opposed to those who prefer nature, city explorers rather immerse themselves in the myriad of metropolitan attractions instead of going hiking in the mountains.
Types of travellers based on reasons to travel
What is the main reason for the trip or the main thing that the person will do during their travels?
And I don’t mean the main activities, but like the very reason this trip is happening. Confusing? I understand, haha, so see my examples.
An Au Pair is a young adult who lives in a family and provides childcare in exchange for a weekly allowance, room, and food. Basically, the aupairer is like a live-in nanny – so that’s the main reason they even are on the trip. They get time off as well to explore the country that they’ve gone to. Quite a good way how to immerse themselves properly in the culture.
Business travellers travel because they need to do, well, business in another place. They can be going for a meeting, just spending time at another location the company has, or pretty much any other work-related reason.
Disaster relief, helping build a school in Africa or working on a farm somewhere in a jungle in South America so that they can stay there in exchange for the work and explore in their free time. Volunteer travel is another way to immerse yourself deeply in the environment and see it from the inside.
Missionaries go to different places to promote religion. Well, that pretty much describes these types of travellers. Missionaries go into a community to teach about religion and convert them or sometimes provide services, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care, and economic development.
Types of travellers – who they travel with
Alone or not alone, the number of people you travel with will change your travel style.
The group types of travellers prefer to go on a trip in a bigger group, even using organized tours instead of planning their own trips. These are the loud friend groups you find, well, everywhere, tour groups, and a bus full of seniors. And, actually, I count couples as group travellers, because even as a couple you still have to count with another person’s choices and moods unlike when travelling alone.
As opposed to group travellers, these are people who prefer travelling alone. They don’t like being tied to someone else and their wishes but prefer being in complete control of their journeys.
These types of travellers are completely happy enjoying the place alone and equally as happy to meet friends on the way.
It’s quite liberating to just be on your own in a new place, take your time exploring or just do nothing for the day.
Similar to group travellers, family travellers go everywhere just with their family. They often cater their trips to what the children will like and enjoy, but many people manage to put some grown-up stuff on their itineraries as well. Still, family trips will most likely include a theme park or a museum instead of a bar crawl.
There are people who have lots of time to spend at a place, then there are those who don’t and even such that spend their whole time on the road.
How much time do the travellers spend on a trip?
From a day to their whole life and in between, depending on how much time you can spend away from home, you might fit one of these groups.
Slow tourists are those who spend a long time in one destination. A lot of the travel bloggers are slow travellers, as they have quit their traditional jobs and are now travelling the world to enjoy it all. These types of tourists like to explore every nook and cranny of the place, enjoying both popular attractions and off-the-beaten-path things.
Vacationers or frequent travellers or weekenders
Frequent travellers are the types of tourists that spend every opportunity they have to go on some trips. It may be only twice a year or so when they have their annual vacation – hence the vacationers. They use many of their weekends to go and see something new.
Generally, vacationers are financially stable – hence they have opportunities to spend a lot of time travelling.
I count us in this same group, although, obviously, lately we can’t just go wherever and whenever.
Digital nomads are people who are not tied to one location. They often don’t have a home, instead, they change the place they stay from time to time. These types of travellers usually work online (hello laptops) or find short-term jobs along the way to fund their travels.
Last thoughts on types of travellers
Wow, this list contained quite a few types of travellers, didn’t it?
And that’s not even most of them! Just some of the most popular ones that I found worthy, so to say, to include in this article.
Did your type make the list?
Which type of traveller are you?
Let me know in the comments!