In the 1950s, two cardiologists devised a personality theory based on observations of patients in their waiting room. Since then, Types A & B have become not just an important scientific theory, but also an integral part of pop culture. All of us can readily identify with either the competitive and self-critical nature of Type As or the more relaxed and tolerant attitudes of Type Bs. Without a shred of doubt or hesitation, I can safely so that I am a clinically defined Type A personality. As hard as it may be to believe, I’ve actually mellowed out a little over the years, but not a lot. No, that go-go-go mentality is still there and shapes my life in ways of which I’m not even entirely aware. It has its pros and cons, no doubt there, and that’s especially true in the travel context. So I thought I’d have a little fun today and share some of the many benefits (and a few cons) a true Type A personality brings to the travel experience.
We will never miss a flight
Even as I typed those words a shudder went down my spine. There’s nothing we Type As hate more than being late for something, especially an event as important as a flight. Maybe that’s why I arrive well in advance of any flight I take, usually many hours. I actually like that extra time in the airport either relaxing, or as much as I can relax as a Type A, in the lounge, eating a meal or just catching up on work. My partner does not feel the same way though about being on time and continuously drives me crazy with what I consider “cutting it close,” but which in reality is getting to the airport two hours early instead of three. But when you travel with a Type A personality you know that you’ll never be late or miss anything, especially a flight.
Best itineraries ever
Planning every detail of a trip isn’t just something we Type As enjoy doing, it’s essential. I couldn’t imagine going on a trip without a very clear idea of what I’m doing almost every second of every day, with all of the appropriate confirmations and reservations made of course. Not only do we need a firm plan of action, but we usually start working on these detailed itineraries as soon as we decide to go on vacation. There’s no leaving anything until the last minute, it all has to be done NOW. I’m planning a quick getaway in August and even before I had my flight reservations I had booked hotels, tours and already started on a day-by-day plan of action. Believe it or not though I have mellowed out over the years. Nowadays I do allow for free time and the ability to be spontaneous, which is a far cry from one of my first big trips overseas when I created a massive binder complete with tabs and a color-coded index. Seriously.
Never go hungry
There is nothing I hate more than aimlessly wandering around a new city, searching for something to eat. It never goes well, I almost never just happen to find a perfect little restaurant and instead I end up eating whatever I can find, which is usually horrible. That’s one reason why as a Type A personality I try to plan where I’m eating and when while traveling. I’m not necessarily talking about restaurant reservations, although those are good too, but at least finding a section of town with plenty of options to eliminate that dreaded aimless wandering around town is essential. Food is important and when you travel with a Type A personality you’ll never go hungry.
We don’t waste time
Another item to go on the list of things Type A people hate is waiting in line. I hate lines and doing some research it turns out that this is a key trait of Type As. We don’t like anything that slows us down, that prevents us from getting things done and wasting time in a line is but one more example of that. When I travel I either plan my activities to minimize time waiting in line or pay more for quicker access to key sights and attractions. Stick with me, no line will keep us down!
We imagine every worst-case scenario
Type As like to consider everything that could possible go wrong and then plan for it. On a trip to Iceland last year, I agonized, AGONIZED over the weather. The forecast wasn’t good and I was worried that it would be really hard to get around. Then I worried I had selected the wrong part of the country to spend my time in, sort of wishing I had gone with Option A instead of B. Then I worried about worrying; yes, this is actually true. Usually this predilection to worrying about everything helps us out, it means that we’re prepared no matter what the travel gods may throw at us. If I don’t have a worst-case scenario to think about, I think about other people’s problems as a sort of public service I suppose.
While the quirky (and sometimes annoying) personality traits of a hard core Type A like myself has a lot of benefits, it also holds us back at times and I realize this.
Because I have an intense need to plan every second of every day on a trip, this therefore means that there tends to be little spontaneity in my travels. This is a problem and I understand it, at least on an intellectual level. The best travel moments aren’t planned, they happen where and when we least expect them. By planning out an entire trip, I’m limiting the possibility of these events from happening in the first place. But it’s hard. It’s hard to let go and to run the risk of not doing or seeing something IMPORTANT. It doesn’t make sense, I get it, it’s an emotional response on my part. I get twitchy and anxious without having a plan of action so lately I’ve decided to be both an overplanner and a spontaneous traveler. Before leaving home I’ll go ahead and make up that plan of action, but then once I start the trip I tend to ignore large parts of it. This slightly off-kilter way of traveling fools my brain, allows me to relax a little and have those special unplanned travel moments.
We love traveling with other people, so much so that we worry constantly about whether or not they’re having a good time. Did they really like that museum or are they just saying that to be polite? They agreed a little too quickly to that dinner suggestion, they probably want something else. We Type A folks care SO much about our traveling companions that we analyze and re-analyze everything they do and say just to make sure they’re having a nice time. Needless to say this has resulted in more than one argument between my partner and I as we’ve traveled the world, I usually refuse to accept anything he says and instead imagine his thoughts and feelings for him. So if you find yourself traveling with someone like me, have some patience and be sure to constantly say how much fun you’re having.
We WANT to live in the moment
Believe me, it’s not that we don’t want to enjoy travel experiences as they happen, it’s just hard to shut off our brains sometimes and just absorb the situation. That’s why when I do find that special place or activity that gives me the chance to not get lost in my own thoughts, but rather get lost in the experience it suddenly becomes THE BEST THING EVER. We’re also somewhat prone to overstatement and make attachments quickly, so those nice places become life-changing, forever endearing destinations. I think that’s one reason why I seek out amazing experiences more than anything else. Walking around old buildings is fine, but I need to DO something, I need to concentrate on something other than my own inner-monologue in order to truly have a great time.
Reading back through these, I realize that I make myself and other Type A personality types seem to be somewhat insane; perhaps candidates for medication or admittance into the nearest sanatorium. But we’re not nuts, many people are like us to some level and most of us will exhibit these traits throughout the course of our travels. I exaggerated a lot to make my points, but hopefully this post will help all Type As re-think (ironically enough) how they travel and enjoy a more relaxing, and less thought provoking experience in the future.
What are some other traits of the traveling Type A?