The average American worker has about 2-3 weeks of vacation time per year, so the decision of where to take a jaunt shouldn’t come lightly. Cost and convenience are big factors, but when it comes to making the right call, being a savvy traveler also means “knowing thyself.” First step to success when your happiness is limbo? Find your core personality trait.
One of the most widely accepted models in psychology that describes our personalities is the Big Five. “Other models exist, but this is the most popular,” said Dr. Joshua J. Jackson, associate professor at Washington University in St. Louis.
Extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness round out the list. “For each of the five traits, people have varying levels,” Jackson says. “The traits are thought to be continuous in that people can have a little to a lot for any particular trait.”
So what can each tell you about your ideal travel destination?
Extroverts are very social, like to start conversations and are the life of the party. “Australia has an incredible culture of backpackers and travelers and it’s one of those places where you’ll never feel alone,” says National Geographic Traveler of the Year Shannon O’Donnell.
“The travel culture is very sociable,” she says of Australia.”The lack of a language barrier means that many travelers will thoroughly enjoy exploring the country.” Extroverts are also very comfortable with big crowds. For the city-lover, O’Donnell recommends New York City and London for its buzz and high energy.
People with an agreeable personality trait are highly empathetic, generous, and interested in spending time exploring new cultures. O’Donnell says to head to the Republic of Georgia for its kind, hospitable people. “If you have a genuine curiosity, the Georgians gladly offer friendship and advice to enjoy your visit.”
For the generous people looking to spend some time helping others during their vacation, consider taking a few weeks to a month for a service project in Nepal. “Nepali culture is warm and open to visitors, which means that when coupled with the once-in-a-life-time chance to hike in the Himalayas, it’s a no-brainer.”
The conscientious traveler is very organized, prepared, and likes to follow a schedule. In this case, O’Donnell says that Western Europe is your destination for its “incredible transportation system” and efficiency. She recommends starting in Denmark and taking a train to Norway to check out its “pristine beauty.”
People who have a neuroticism personality trait are often worriers and anxious. No problem — there’s a trip for you. O’Donnell suggests booking an all-inclusive resort in Mexico or small group tour of Italy which helps, “smooth the edges of the travel experience” and lets travelers “focus on enjoying the new culture.”
Finally, the open traveler. This personality trait is adventurous, imaginative and enjoys learning new things. O’Donnell recommends heading to Southeast Asia, especially Thailand and Myanmar. She says there’s less infrastructure and development but “the people and culture are among the warmest in the world.”
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