About Carl Jung, Travel, and Personalities
Explorers, adventurers, globetrotters, travelers, passengers, tourists… If you’re reading this, it’s very likely that you’ve already taken our travel personality test. Now, we’re going to tell you some aspects that we think are really fascinating about how travel and psychology are intertwined.
Isn’t traveling a wonderful thing?
We would all agree that, beyond rest and fun, a trip brings great psychological benefits. Travel opens our mind and broadens our horizons. It helps us to better tolerate our differences and to empathize with others. It not only breaks up our routine; it allows us to face insecurities and ask important questions.
Travel: a School of Life
We asked a couple of psychologists to tell us more about how travel affects our health and wellbeing, including Valentina Ferrario, who has a degree in psychology from the National University of Córdoba in Argentina (she’s also an avid traveler!).
“I believe that traveling is a great school of flexibility and adaptation,” she says. “By traveling, we get to know different ways of inhabiting the world. We see new possibilities, we hear stories different from our own, and that experience broadens our frame of reference considerably”.
On the other hand, we have Dr. L, an American with a PhD in Clinical Psychology whose academic knowledge of human behavior, decision-making, and even leisure activities has dovetailed nicely with his passion for travel. “Research shows that travel is beneficial to physical health, fosters a sense of awareness and allows for personal growth through the development of perspective, faith and cultural awareness,” he tells us.
“Travel opens our mind and broadens our horizons. It helps us to better tolerate our differences and to empathize with others”
So it’s confirmed: travel is good for our mental health. Yet, we have many other questions:
- Does your personality define the way you travel, or does the way you travel define your personality?
- Might your personality vary significantly when you travel?
- How can travel shape your personality?
- Do certain personalities match well with certain destinations or travel styles?
One step at a time
Indeed, travel is a verb that can be conjugated in many different ways, and it’s a concept that can mean different things to different types of people. After all, there’s no single way of traveling, just as there’s no single kind of traveler. Each of us has our own way of approaching different situations that arise before, during or even after a trip. These unique particularities define our traveling personality.
What is personality?
Personality is commonly defined as a pattern of attitudes, thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung was one of the key early figures to research and describe specific personality types. He first divided them into introverts and extroverts. From there, he constructed the 8 personality types commonly used today. After researching his work, we’ve come up with six types of our own that reflect the world of travel: explorer, adventurer, globetrotter, traveler, passenger and tourist.
“It can be helpful to think of personality as the lens through which you view experiences and make decisions,” Dr. L tells us. “It can absolutely influence how you travel, including where you go, where you stay, and how you interact with people and the environment at your travel destination. That said, I don’t think it always has to be one way or the other. In fact, it’s often a two-way street where personality guides your travel-related decisions and, at the same time, your travel experiences modify aspects of your personality.” Interesting, isn’t it?
“Personality guides your travel-related decisions and, at the same time, your travel experiences modify aspects of your personality.”
Did we get it right?
To create our test we went through a lengthy process of choosing questions, answers and — above all — finding the logic that would link the answers with different personality types. Does the way you learn about travel, what you carry in your backpack, or how you interact with people condition your personality? Well, to some extent, yes. But personalities, like the world and life itself, are not always so black and white.
“The interesting thing about traveling is that we can never foresee or anticipate 100% of the experience,” says Valentina. “Many times we imagine that a certain city or place is ideal for a certain person, but when they arrive, they find that they prefer something else. Traveling allows us to explore, to get to know and even change not only the external world but also the internal one.“
Thus, the logic of a personality test can be complicated, especially since it assumes fixed answers to a set of psychological characteristics that are, of course, much more dynamic.
We asked Dr. L his thoughts on the subject: “Travel can help shape your personality by allowing you the freedom to try new things,” he says. “Exposure to new cultures, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors tends to improve perspective and promote the development of personal relationships. For all the wonderful relaxation that leisure travel can bring, you can also find yourself in stressful situations that demand immediate problem-solving and flexibility (hello, lost luggage on the plane… I’m talking to you!). It’s hard to get those valuable, personality-building experiences without traveling.“
“Personality guides your travel-related decisions and, at the same time, your travel experiences modify aspects of your personality”
“I think certain personalities may fit with certain destinations or travel styles,” comments our expert Dr L. “People with a personality focused on dependency and an excessive need for approval from others may choose places just to please others or that highlight accomplishments they believe will be accepted by others. For others, green travel and slow travel options allow for more culturally immersive experiences that serve their very intentional goal of broadening their personality through new perspectives.“
Let’s go back to the psychology
This academic discipline tells us that personality includes our way of thinking, feeling, communicating, emoting and living our lives. We can say that it’s the inner organization that determines the way we act in different circumstances. It’s a pattern that characterizes a person and that has a certain persistence and stability throughout their life – so much so, that there is a high degree of predictability in the way they’ll behave. It’s this predictability that’s allowed us to establish the logic linking the answers with the test results. Yet, far from being permanent, personalities are certainly fluid and malleable.
“I believe that certain personalities can fit with certain destinations or travel styles.”
“In general, personality is considered a relatively stable trait, meaning that it doesn’t change simply on a whim. That’s not to say that you can’t shape your personality over time,” says Dr L. “This is where travel becomes important, as it allows you opportunities for cultural immersion that can broaden your perspectives and even change the way you think about the world around you.“
For that very reason, you probably recognize yourself in many traits, but you don’t have to recognize yourself in all of them. It’s the combination of them that makes you unique. If we were all the same, humanity would be made up of a small variety of people. Life — and travel — would be rather dull.
“Thinking about the stories of travelers, I can say that there is a clear crossover between ways of traveling and ways of living life; they enrich each other,” Valentina tells us. “The change goes in both directions. Traveling — like any experience in life — transforms us.“