The Five Different Travelling Subcultures, Where Do You Slot In?


A subculture is a group of people within society who share a series of common traits which define them as distinct from the majority of mainstream society. Throughout history, we can resonate with many well-known subcultures such as ‘the goth’, ‘the skater’, ‘the jock’, and ‘the rocker’ to name a few. Although it originated in the 1940s, ‘the hipster’ seems to be a subculture that has become well-recognised lately.

My curiosity around the idea of ‘the traveller’ as a subculture was ignited when I was exposed to a discussion about different fashion styles with a ‘hipster’. She loosely identified people’s fashion style as varying from the ‘vintage look’ to the ‘sporty look’. When I asked her how she would describe my ‘look’, she hesitated and was unable to identify one ‘look’ per say; after much banter, she settled with the idea of the ‘back-packer look’. Outwardly, a subculture is quite often identified by society according to the symbolism attached to an individual’s clothing, music preference, or local hangout. Inwardly, a subculture can be recognised by an identifiable set of ideas, values and ways of life, which drive the individual to make the choices they make in their lives.

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‘The travelling’ subculture is comprised by many different types of people, but what makes them form part of this subculture is based on the way of life and the shared values they live by.

We recognise five of these inward qualities attributed to ‘the travelling’ subculture.


‘The traveller’ has learnt that they do not need a lot to make them happy; the essential material goods that are most important to them are all they need. Without sounding too cheesy, things that money cannot buy is what really makes them tick.

First-hand life experiences   

To experience life first hand is to totally emerge oneself in the natural world experiencing its unpredictability and unique flow first-hand. Any natural outdoor activities such as hiking a mountain, surfing a wave, swimming in a fast river, running through a wild forest or playing in the snow are examples of what it means to experience life first-hand for ‘the traveller’.

Contagious Generosity

On the road, your family becomes other travellers: the strangers you have just met who you form instant connections with. This leads to a contagious generosity between strangers where sharing of food, clothes, stories, ideas and life lessons becomes the norm.

Restless Nomads

‘The traveller’ is driven by an insatiable desire to be lost and found both at the same time; they are most comfortable out of their comfort zone. The thrill of being on the road, not knowing what each day will bring is what fulfils their restless hearts. This desire can at times make them a glutton for adventure and new experiences; they are restless nomads who become frustrated with routine and predictability.

Passionately Curious

Anything that is new or different is an opportunity for ‘the traveller’ to learn and grow. ‘The traveller’ is drawn to the unknown and the mysterious like a moth to a flame, totally mesmerised by their curiosity and passion for discovering the world and all the lessons it has to offer.

source: southafrica

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