Over the past few months of backpacking I’ve met so many people who I’ve talked to, laughed with and drank with, which has led me to develop this incredibly scientific theory: When it comes to travelling, either you’re a shark or you’re a sloth.
A shark – the animal – constantly needs to keep moving forward to keep oxygen-rich waters flowing over their gills, or they die. Similarly, the shark-type traveller is constantly moving forward, and moving quickly. They tend to be very focused on hitting up the 2 or 3 things they want to do in any particular city or place, and then heading off to the next one. Basically, they don’t really stick around and are constantly in search of the next big high. Being forced to wait around a city for a boat, a delayed flight, or a closed border crossing is a shark’s idea of hell.
Your best partying travel stories are likely to happen with sharks; they’re addicting to be around and are always going full throttle. However, sharks also know when to leave the party. When you meet an awesome group of people and travel together for a while, it can be hard to decide when to disband. Sharks know it’s better to be the first one to leave, than the last one left behind. They leave when everything is at a high and take that energy to the next stop – and the next stop, and the next stop – until they inevitably crash for 24 hours straight and then do it all over again.
A shark usually has a strong feeling of FOMO; they want to do it all, and they want to do it now. The potential downside is falling into the trap of “checking it off the list”. You can end up seeing a lot of things at a really superficial level without getting a deeper feel or understanding of the place you’re in. It boils down to whether you want to see a little of a lot – or a lot of a little.
A sloth – the animal – moves in odd and peculiar ways and is extremely good at blending into their surroundings. Similarly, the sloth-type traveller is more likely to hit up the lesser known towns to see what they’re about than the “must-see” spots, and values staying somewhere longer to get the feeling of being a local. A sloth has no problem sticking around somewhere for an extra 4 days if it means catching a cool festival or concert. Constantly switching hostels every other night is a sloth’s idea of hell.
Your most memorable, life-changing, I-can’t-believe-I-just-told-that-to-a-stranger, conversations are most likely to happen with sloths. They have a calm, come-what-may, attitude that leads to a comfort you didn’t think was possible with someone you just met. You might meet them at the beach bonfire or rooftop patio and the next thing you know you’re having an awesome breakthrough about why you decided to run away and travel in the first place, or why you let people take advantage of your kindness, or finally figure out what you want to do with your life once you get home.
If something requires a split-second gutsy decision, (there’s a plane leaving for Rio in 5 minutes!) there’s a good chance a sloth will miss out. They travel at their own the pace, and FOMO doesn’t affect them because they find the beauty in wherever they happen to be at that moment. However, sloths benefit from having certain major activities booked in advance, or having to meet a friend from home, to help move them along – otherwise they’d probably still be in their first or second country 4 months in (but they’d know the local grocer by first name, and were probably invited over for dinner.)
So, which one are you? A mix of both? #Slark #Shoth