Y’know, maybe it’s because I turn 30 soon, but I think a lot about how my personality changed throughout the years. My 20s? Was a decade of extreme growth, fueled by triumphs and failures. The roller coaster ride still makes me breathless. Undoubtedly, thanks to my first fateful solo trip at 26, travel left its mark on my mannerisms forever.
I wanted to discuss my travel style for awhile, but didn’t know how to approach the subject. Then I thought, “Hey, I love books. My readers love books. Why not combine the two ideas?” Brilliant!
Creating a list of five literary characters who mirror my travel style was a challenge. I even sorted through my (dead) Goodreads account to find possible candidates. Eventually, I whittled my options to these crazy classic powerhouses – all who best demonstrate my “all over the place” travel personality.
Alice from Alice in Wonderland
Aw, I always loved the Disney film of this classic book. My grandmother says I’m similar to Alice, and I agree with her.
Alice’s naïveté and curiosity leads her into bizarre situations. Like this popular character, I’m very inquisitive, always seeking opportunities at home and abroad, and as a result, my own curiosity guides me to new places, creating lots of great stories.
In addition, I’m still “childlike” in Alice’s cheeky way. I don’t feel thirty, not even close, and I ponder if I’ll ever reach adulthood. Let’s not even talk about my immaturity. But the good news is my youthful wonder only enhances my travels. For example, when I revisited Budapest in December, the stunning Parliament Building and Chain Bridge stole my heart and imagination just like my first visit. Precious.
Read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass here.
Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series
Bilbo Baggins goes on the adventure of a lifetime in The Hobbit. But did he want to join Gandalf and the dwarves? Pffft, no way. Hobbits don’t do adventures.
I love lounging at home. Sipping tea and watching Netflix is a dream come true. Just yesterday, I cringed walking in the rain to buy milk. In a lot of ways, I’m a reluctant adventurer. It takes a ton of self-motivation and pep talks for me to finally book a plane ticket.
I’ve cancelled and un-cancelled so many trips it’s surprising Chase Sapphire’s reward program keeps me as a customer.
But, even though I whimper at leaving my cozy bedroom, I still grab my suitcase, trek to the airport, and experience the world’s glory. Life’s too short.
Let’s face it. We can learn so many lessons about life from The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Read these books if you have time.
Jane Bennett from Pride and Prejudice
Argh, like every other reader on the internet, I wish I could say I’m Elizabeth Bennett’s blond twin who happens to live in New Jersey. Pretty, witty, intelligent. Elizabeth’s perfection. Jennifer Ehle’s portrayal in the 1995 BBC adaption is my vision of the perfect woman. Don’t judge me.
However, I’d totally be lying if I claimed I was the epitome of Elizabeth freakin’ Bennett after a stressful flight or sleepless night.
Instead I’m much more like Jane. I want everyone – guides, other travelers, locals – to like me. I don’t want to be an “Ugly American.” As a result, I act extra polished and polite to everyone I encounter on the road. Sweet Jane never complained despite her nutso family and broken heart.
Plus Jane was the stunner of the Bennett family, wasn’t she? I never travel without a few select beauty products myself, haha.
Read Pride and Prejudice here.
Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby
Okay, now we’re breaking into my “not so awesome” travel qualities. Hey, I never claimed I was perfect. I also know my 12th grade-self is despairing because I’m actually comparing myself to Mr. Gatsby, a character I hated in my senior year of high school English.
Like Gatsby, I linger too much on the past. Lost loves, foolish college choices, out of touch friends, minor embarrassments. I don’t think I’m unusual for a millennial either. How many of us long for the 1990s to return and save us from our jobs and bills? Just look at Buzzfeed. You’ll immediately see what I mean.
To make matters even worse, part of me wishes to re-build and re-live the past. I’d re-start my life as an innocent eighteen year-old bound for Rutgers in a heartbeat.
And my clinging to the past? Extends to travel. For example, I’m nervous about returning to Scotland and Portugal (one day), because I know I’ll try to reenact everything that made those trips so magical and inevitably fail. Damn my unrelenting nostalgia!
Read The Great Gatsby here.
Dorian Gray from The Picture of Dorian Gray
Wait. Are my travel mannerisms getting even worse? You bet, wayfarers, you bet.
Travel has made me a better person. No doubt. Yet the spirit of adventure will occasionally offer excuses to overindulge, leading to make poor choices I wouldn’t necessarily make at home in New Jersey. Exploring an unfamiliar city, especially solo, is thrilling. I feel powerful as a lone female traveler. Brave, daring, even reckless. The consequences aren’t always safe or smart.
Nonetheless, although I’ve never driven potential romances to suicide like Dorian, travel excites me and my good judgment doesn’t always stand a chance against my adrenaline.
“Oh, I’m all the way in Vilnius (or Riga, or Reykjavik, or San Francisco, or Edinburgh). No one’ll ever find out” goes through my mind way more often than I’d like to admit.
Yeah. I hope my portrait isn’t too ugly.
Read The Picture of Dorian Gray here.
Who are some of your favorite characters from classic literature? Do any of them mirror your travel style? Share in the comments.
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