You may find these scenes familiar: He subtly tucks the train ticket stubs into the folds of his wallet. She carefully opens her notebook to pen down some thoughts, after a visit to the museum. While a group of tourists raise their cameras in unison, his eyes stays focused on a sculpture, deep in thought. She asks if you could return to the same street for the third time over a five-day trip, to look at something.
Alas, you are travelling with The Sentimental Traveller.
To the Sentimental Traveller, finding meaning in people and places is important. The Sentimental Traveller is immune to the pursuits of an average tourist. Attempts to visit as many shops and cafes as possible is bound to turn him off. And the continued requests to take selfies irks her ever so badly.
Here are 10 tell tale signs of a sentimental traveller – these could be traits of your favourite travel companion or perhaps, even yourself.
1. You keep a travel journal, diary or blog
Reflecting about a trip – what and how it happened is important to you. These are not transactional details of the restaurants you dined and the hotels you’ve stayed at. Instead, these notes could be on something simple which had made you reflect earlier, feelings that a particular art piece evoked in you, or what your travelling companion shared which make you think a little more.
2. You revisit old photos and ticket stubs from time to time.
This happens even after the trip is well over. In this digital age, this means searching for old external hard disks, plugging them into the computer to revisit old memories. Or it could mean looking through old Facebook albums, and smiling to yourself when you think about the good times.
3. You want to visit the places you have been to, over and over again.
With the same person or people. You want to recreate past trips – if possible, under the same circumstances. New places don’t really excite you that much. You want to visit the same place again, to take a walk down memory lane and learn how it has changed.
4. You buy things which remind you of a place
I would consider myself to be rather well-travelled and I refrain from buying souvenirs, especially for myself as they take up space in my backpack. However, I saw the meaning of buying gifts for oneself while travelling. A friend bought me a music bowl in Nepal which I found to be rather charming, but I couldn’t bear the spend the money. Several years later, I found the bowl and memories of Nepal came back to me. Of the epic overland trip which I made from India to Nepal, and the exhilaration of paragliding over the rolling Nepalese hills.
5. You visit a place in a city three times, over a five-day trip.
This is a true story. My Friend H had visited Insa-dong on our first day in Seoul. On the second day, she returned to the same shop to buy the souvenirs which she had her eye on. Unfortunately the shop was closed. Nonetheless, she
demanded requested that we make our way back on the third day to get the souvenirs.
6. You’d rather take a train, than a plane if you had the time
If I had limitless money and could survive without a job, I would take the train as much as I could, to my destination despite the long hours. To me, the journey to a destination is as important as the destination itself.
7. You don’t take pictures that much. Chunky DSLRs ain’t your thing.
Rather than whipping out your camera at every historic monument that comes your way, you’d rather use your eyes to capture that memory. You find chunky DSLRs cumbersome, an unnecessary obstruction between your eyes and the sight before you.
8. You could spend a week in a place and not feel bored
You dislike rushed trips – prancing from place to place with only one direction in mind (forgive the pun) – to see as much as you possibly can. If you could, you would like to have a quiet coffee or beer in the middle of town, watching the ebb and flow of human traffic while taking in the city.
9. The things that make you love a place, are wildly different from others
People fall in love with cities, towns and beaches for all sorts of reasons – good food, nightlife and natural beauty. But the reason why you love Seoul could be drastically different from others. Maybe Seoul isn’t just about having kimchi and army stew, it isn’t just about the shopping, but it is the Korean culture and history that you’re really into. For me, India isn’t about the grand monuments or the rich history. It’s about her people, and quite strangely, I find the order in midst of all the chaos rather enchanting.
10. It’s hard for you to describe why you love a place so much
As with many things about love, it’s hard to use precise words to describe how you feel. It’s even more difficult to tell your travelling companion why you have to go to some place, because you don’t know how to verbalise it. You just know that once you get there, it will be beautiful. And if you missed that chance, you may never have it again.
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To travel with a Sentimental Traveller, be sensitive. The Sentimental Traveller tends not to be vocal with his thoughts, because he doesn’t want to inconvenience you. Ask him for his preferences, when in doubt. Asking ‘Why do you need to go there’ is a question which is best figured out on your own. Sometimes, we end up doing things with no rhyme or reason for the people we care about. And I guess, while the Sentimental Traveller never clearly articulates it, he or she truly appreciates your company.