Indonisia BeachIn order for you to understand what I’m talking about in some of my posts, it’s best that I explain a few terms. Trying to categorize travelers is extremely subjective. You could divide them into groups based on attitude, experience, purpose, or any number of other options. In my mind, I loosely identify travelers as follows:

Dreamers: I suppose that we all start out this way. A Dreamer could still be in school, working a new job, or reaching the end of a long career. They might start with the idea that taking a real vacation would be a nice change from the standard practice of using their time off to visit family for the holidays. This is what I always seemed to do, and always felt like going on any other type of vacation was just being selfish. It took me a long time to get over this self-imposed expectation. I’ve met others that tell me they’ve gone through years of the same thing.

A Dreamer may be living some place cold and longing for a tropical getaway. They could be living where it’s crowded and want to find seclusion, or are living a secluded life and long for the hustle, bustle, and excitement of a big city. No matter their situation, they dream of travel to somewhere better.

But the dreamer is not always a traveler in their mind only. They could also be someone who has finally managed to get away for a little while. They have experienced that place they had only dreamed of before. But now they want more of it. They want to figure out how to make their new experience last longer, happen more often, or even to become a permanent way of life. So the dream continues.

A dreamer, in this sense, is someone who wants their current travel situation to be different than what they have. It’s where we all started out, and occasionally end up again... and again.

Lombok IndonesiaI've been traveling for a few years now and have noticed that during that time I've gone through several changes due to the psychological effects it has had on me. I've had a few discussions with other travelers who've shared their experiences as well. Additionally, I've done a little bit of reading about studies and more experiences. I've noticed some consistencies and inconsistencies in effects. So I thought I'd share what I've seen in the hopes that you'll at least be prepared for some of the emotional challenges and benefits of travel.

I experienced a lot of different emotions in anticipation to beginning my travels. There was the suspense and anticipation of experiencing places I'd only previously known of through television and what I'd read. Knowing almost nothing about the cultures of the countries caused some anxiety. I overcompensated for this in two ways. I tried to research every possible aspect of each location I planned on visiting. I found myself overdoing this. There's benefit to having a general idea of what to expect, where to go and what to see. But I was basically trying to become an expert on places I'd never even seen before and had no real experience of. This caused me to feel like I was still missing something and needed to keep searching for updated and more complete information. I didn't consider that what I was still missing was the first hand knowledge. The other way I overcompensated was in packing far too much stuff. I purchased a 65 liter mountaineering style backpack, and filled it with 50 pounds (23 kg) of things I needed very little of. You can read more about that, and how I've learned and changed, in other articles here on our site.

passport stampsEach destination has its own set of requirements for entry, and those requirements can be different depending on what country issued your passport. There are six different categories: 1) Visa Free, 2) Visa On Arrival, 3) Electronic Registration, 4) A visa is required if you are entering the country for business, but not as a tourist, 5) A visa is required for entry as a tourist, and 6) No visa will be issued due to being barred from entry.

Unless we have an extremely strong desire to visit a country, we tend to avoid going places that either aren't visa free or that don't issue a visa on arrival. Because we are a mixed nationality couple, my wife and I also need to be sure to understand the maximum allowable stay for each country. For example, as a US passport holder I'm able to enter Taiwan visa free for a stay of up to 90 days. However my wife can only stay visa free for 14 days with her passport issued by the Philippines. On the other hand, if we decided to visit Rwanda then her passport would allow her to enter visa free for up to 90 days, and I'd get a visa on arrival valid for 30 days.