As far as I can figure, the travelling style of everyone on Earth can be satisfied under the same simple grid which specifies level or organisation and individuality. The grid looks like this:
Simple multiplication between the x- and y-axes gets you four basic types of traveller. Solo Organised, Group Organised, Solo Spontaneous, and Group Spontaneous. Allow me to break it down.
Level of Organisation:
Some people like to travel by their ass. You know, they like to just pick a place, show up, and figure everything out once they’re there. They like the surprise and the adventure of having no reservations and making their way in a fashion that requires three parts luck and one part charisma. These people are the life of the party and they’re bound to make everyone they speak to very jealous.
It’s not always so extreme, of course--not always so ‘Jesus take the wheel.’ Some spontaneous travellers will reserve a hotel room or a hostel and know which towns they’ll be seeing; but that’s as far as their planning goes. They still subscribe to the philosophy of ‘I’ll figure it out when I get there’ and live for the thrill of being lost and finding their way as they go.
It takes a certain amount of bravery to become a spontaneous traveller, because there is no guarantee that everything will work out in your favour once you reach your destination. One must come to grips with the idea that they could be roaming the streets all night long with no sleep because all the affordable hotels/hostels were booked up. But, the charisma of said travellers makes finding friends and entertainment relatively simple, and, again, it's all a part of the adventure.
Then there are the people who enjoy being more in control. These are those who collect themselves a binder of maps, budgets, reservations, operating hours, phone numbers, and points of interest that is completed months before the actual date of travel. I had been this type of traveller for a long time before I met my husband, and still retain some of the traits, so I understand it explicitly. We believe that we’re getting more for our money by packing as much in to our time as we possibly can and some of us really do find mouth-watering bliss in the aspect of knowing what we’ll be doing every second of our trip. It’s a lot of stress but, to us, it’s worth it. My travel motto is: Every second that I spend in body-twisting anxiety here in my house is just another second I won’t have to worry while I’m away. There shall be no worries at all because I’ve already gotten it out of the way.
Here is an actual example of something I made before I left for my UK trip in 2015:
Again, not everything is as extreme as someone like me who walks around my future travel destination on Google Maps to make sure I know the area before I arrive; this level also includes people who plan out a place to stay, activities for every day, and a list of restaurants they’ll be visiting.
I’ve found that most people under 30 are spontaneous travellers while most of those over 30 are organised. But, even I am an exception to that rule so that’s a very basic observation.
Level of Individuality:
Starting again with the type of traveller that I am not; there are those people who (at the extreme level) refuse to travel by themselves. These people may choose to travel with large groups (which does serve great money-saving opportunities) or even just one other person. They believe that travel is only fun if you’re doing it with someone else. As if the fun doesn’t actually exist, or can’t be proven, unless someone else was there to witness it for themselves. I know lots of people like this. Their biggest grief about how they can’t make it to Spain this year is ‘because no one can go with me.’
But, it’s not just the social aspects or the money-saving, on top of that is an understandable fear of being alone. There’s a saying ingrained in to the minds of most people that ‘there’s safety in numbers.’ We observe that in nature, so it must be true.
I, however, always preferred to be a solo traveller (until I met someone I actually enjoyed travelling with). I and people of a similar disposition love the freedom and peace of travelling alone. The activities and the restaurants and the places we stay are all decided by one person. There’s no compromise or insistence upon being somewhere that holds no interest to you. Plus, according to us, there’s no better way to make new friends than to travel alone. Never do we have the grief of ‘no one can go’ to hold us back, though there are the cons of ‘I can’t afford it’ or, once in destination seeing something and saying ‘oh so-and-so would have loved that. I wish they were here to see it.’
I haven’t found much of an age discrepancy between these two, as I’m among the two people I know to enjoy travelling alone. There is a bit of a sex discrepancy, though. Female travellers that I observe hardly ever go at it alone (and those who do are very outspoken about it). Being a female traveller myself, I’ll have to address those common issues soon. Because it’s not as scary as you may think.
Of course, as I'm testiment to, the way you categorise yourself will change over time. I was previously a very hardcore solo organised traveller. I met and fell in love with a solo spontaneous traveller and now we're a weird mix of those two. And I think we still kind of think of it as solo travel even though there are two of us. You know how it is: you get married and suddenly everything is JohnandYoko. Who knows, maybe one day we'll be group spontaneous travellers!