For a lot of people, recognizing personal weaknesses can be a challenge. It’s understandable, too, considering we’ve been taught to either hide our weaknesses, or downplay them. Have you ever heard of anyone who suggested informing potential employers of all of your major weaknesses, or anything you may be terrible at? The answer is probably a resounding no.
When we set out to travel, it also becomes slightly taboo to accept your weaknesses. Avid travellers will constantly boast about their adventurous side, their ability to adapt in any situation, and how nothing thwarts them from a great experience. While all of this may be true, every traveller has at least one travel weakness.
Although I would classify myself as a very adventurous traveller, I recognize at least one trait about myself that doesn’t translate well to a specific type of travelling. It has always been my opinion that knowing your weaknesses only allows you to solidify your strengths. So, what is that weakness that I hold?
I’m not a group traveller. When I say, “group”, I refer to groups of over 20 people. It’s guaranteed that I won’t remember everyone’s name, nor that I’ll remember their whole story. I’ll try my best to get to know everyone, but when I travel to a new place for my own leisure, my first goal is to experience the place that I’m in as well as its local culture. It can be ridiculously fun to do this in groups of 2-5 people, but in large groups, you start to limit yourself.
What do I mean by this? It’s my belief that travelling in large groups gives you a “in a bubble” experience. Travel groups such as Contiki have a great concept – allowing you to travel with big groups of other 20-somethings – but the larger your group is, the less chance you have of blending into your surroundings.
And this is where my weakness comes in: I love to blend in when I travel. I’ve always acknowledged that my ambiguous appearance has given me slightly greater potential of “just being a local” compared to some of my friends. I enjoy this, simply because it gives me the chance to figure things out where I am without automatically being treated as an “other”. I believe most people don’t realize this, but it is somewhat of an advantage when all you want to do is experience the culture you’re in. Now, there are still cultures where I’d definitely stand out, but for the most part, I can be a chameleon.
Thus, travelling in groups takes away from this. The last time I travelled in a very large group (with hundreds of others), I went to Cadiz. Cadiz is a city in the south of Spain, where the very popular Carnaval occurs every year. I had been to Cadiz before, and had really loved the town and its friendly locals. Needless to say, my second trip there wasn’t my favourite. I suddenly felt obviously foreign, and as though I was travelling with a pack of (embarrassing) North American stereotypes.
This remains to be my biggest travel weakness. Although I really enjoy group trips at times, I usually do prefer travelling with no more than 5 other people. It makes your trip easier to plan, makes the experience more intimate, and allows you to focus more on where you’re going. Of course, this isn’t always true – if you’re travelling with a large group of close family or friends, the amount of people can enhance the trip. However, when I really travel, I like to keep those numbers small.
So, while I know my “weakness”, I know what to avoid in the future. I know what my preferred travel experience is. I also know that I can’t always travel that way, but if it were up to me, I would.
Do you have any travel weaknesses? If so, what are they?