Talk about a melting pot, the airport is a great mix of everything, good and bad.
There are great restaurants, clothing stores, jewelry shops, food carts, book stores and even salons and spas in some airports.
These all have terrible prices, of course, but they can all make your travel more comfortable. Airports make sure you are not lacking anything you may need during your travels, whether one way or round trip.
While airports do control the conveniences they put in place for travelers, they cannot control the personalities of the travelers themselves. And boy, those personalities can be extremely varied. If you like to people watch, the airport is the place to go. Analyzing the actions of people can tell you a lot about their mental state at the time of their travel. For instance, if a woman is sitting alone and crying, she is most likely sad. If a woman is crying while running frantically towards the boarding gate, she is most likely scared of missing her flight.
The personalities you meet at the airport do not necessarily represent that person’s normal personality in their “real life”.
Many times the personalities of people change while they are traveling.
People who are stressed out at work turn into gracious and excited vacationers. Some people who are relaxed in their everyday lives become stressed out maniacs when traveling.
The most common types of personalities to be discussed in this post are the ones who have common traits with popular mental health disorders.
These include the depressed travelers, the narcissist travelers, the histrionic travelers, the avoidant travelers, the paranoid travelers, the dependent travelers and the manic travelers.
The Depressed Traveler
The depressed traveler can arrive in many forms at the airport.
They may be traveling due to a death in the family and are headed to a funeral. They may be leaving loved ones and are sad because they are saying goodbye for a while. These types will have ups and downs during their travels. Those who are saying goodbye are sad at first but as their travel goes on they start reframing their thinking patterns to adjust back to the life they are headed back to. They get composure and eventually stop being so sad, knowing they will see their loved ones again soon.
The depressed traveler headed to a funeral may appear sad the entire trip but can most likely communicate their needs, hold conversations and even explain to others why they are feeling sad. The sympathy they garner from others actually aids in their healing.
The depressed traveler may also be just plain depressed and dealing with a mental health disorder.
This type of traveler’s mental health may not be as recognizable as outward crying. Depression among travelers may show up in forms such as the person appearing fatigued, poor hygiene, trouble concentrating or seeming distracted. Other behaviors to look out for with the depressed traveler is irritability, acting as if they are in pain, and if they do talk to you, they have a hopeless outlook on their travels or on life in general. Be sure to not let the depressed traveler bring you down with them.
The Narcissist Traveler
The narcissist is actually pretty easy to identify at the airport.
They can stand out from the rest of the crowd without even trying. They are boisterous and really only care about their own needs being met.
The narcissist traveler is right, even when they are wrong.
And when they are wrong, they show little remorse for being wrong.
They know more than the pilot and the flight attendants, who by the way, were put on this earth to serve them only. Beware of this traveler because if the plane is going down and they have an escape route, they won’t share it. You will have to just stand up to the bully in this situation.
One sign of a narcissist is that they tend to contradict themselves, even in the same sentence.
For instance, a narcissist may tell you he loves to travel and then a few minutes later tell you he hates everything about traveling. He or she may tell you they are the top sales person in their company and then in the next sentence talk about their recent demotion.
You may get whoop lash trying to keep up with and make sense of the conversation. Don’t try. Just enjoy it because overall, talking with a narcissist can be quite entertaining. At least they will think so.
The Histrionic Traveler
You see her waiting at the gate before you even reach the gate.
She is dressed up like she is going to a nightclub. All heads are turning to look at her and that’s exactly what she desires. She is not just dressed up; she is made up from head to toe. Her hair, nails and makeup were professionally done before the flight. She has expensive luggage that matches her expensive clothing, which is most of the time seductive.
Her physical appearance means everything to her.
The histrionic traveler wants to be the center of attention and she usually gets her way. Smacking her gum she leans way over to talk to the gentleman passengers, who are always eager to assist her with her needs, despite the evil eyes glaring at them from their wives. She rewards them with a pat on the thigh or some other inappropriate touch or comment, which she finds nothing wrong in doing. She can laugh loudly and cry crocodile tears all in the same five minute time frame, mostly because she is shallow and her emotions only aid in her goal of getting attention.
The histrionic traveler is most likely trying to impress others but she is doing exactly the opposite.
Well, at least with all the other women travelers who see straight through her act.
She is not a bad person and definitely not a bad traveler; she just needs an extra bit of attention to make her feel good about herself.
The Avoidant Traveler
The avoidant traveler is much different than someone who just hates being around people.
In fact, they don’t mind being around people except for the fact they think all other people will reject them in some way. They are avoidant out of fear. They fear what people will think of them. They fear being humiliated in public. Therefore, they stay away from those situations when possible. If they are traveling, they are probably praying there are no quick changes to their trip schedules. They like routines and very rigid agendas.
At the airport the avoidant traveler may be the person sitting in the corner of the waiting area, on the floor, with headphones in and who only looks up to make sure the flight schedule has not changed. If you are sitting next to this person they are probably hoping you won’t speak to them. You definitely won’t become their friend because there is not enough time for you to pass their loyalty test, which is why they have few major relationships in their normal lives.
They only let a few very trusted people into their inner circle.
The best thing you can do for an avoidant traveler is to let them be avoidant.
Otherwise, find ways to gain their trust and don’t push them to be open when they don’t want to be. Just smile and be kind, as they are.
The Paranoid Traveler
The paranoid traveler can be humorous at first, you think their paranoia is their way of being funny or making a joke.
That is, until you realize it is not funny and that their suspicious thoughts and remarks are actually a disorder for them. They are not paranoid in the sense that they are freaked out because they believe the plane is going to explode mid-flight. The paranoia is a bit more personalized.
The paranoid traveler will feel like the flight attendants have information about them that they are going to use against them at a later time. If he gets the back seat on the plane it’s because the pilot knew he was put in detention in high school. This person seems defensive all the time, ready to counter-attack anyone who says something about them. When talking to this person they may reveal their doubts about their spouse’s loyalty or they are convinced they are about to get fired at work.
You will get exhausted talking to this traveler if your goal is to convince them their fears are wrong. Instead, you may just want to be a good listener and keep in mind that their paranoia is just that, their paranoia and not yours. Don’t be influenced.
The Dependent Traveler
The dependent traveler is not really scared of flying or traveling.
They are, however, scared of traveling without assistance from someone else to make all of their decisions for them. This person can be annoying, especially if you are in a hurry, due to their constant seeking of support from you or others, even strangers.
The dependent traveler is very clingy and very needy.
If you are standing next to them in line at an airport restaurant, they will want you to help them decide what to order. If you are next to them in line to board the plane, they will want you to double check their ticket five times to make sure they are in the correct order. The dependent traveler would rather be mistreated by you or the flight crew than be made to feel left alone during their travels. Their self-esteem is very low; it is as if they do not exist on their own. While they are very sweet people, they are also very time-consuming.
This can be hard to handle while traveling.
Try and hook them up with the staff of the airport, at least they can make some money while helping this traveler.
The Manic Traveler
The manic traveler is one who suffers with bipolar disorder.
They have cycles of low moods and high moods. Their moods swing back and forth and each can be detrimental to their health. When you see a manic traveler your first thought may be that you wish you had just a small bit of their energy.
They are high strung to say the least.
The manic traveler is actually a very risky traveler. They partake in behaviors that could very well cause them to miss their flight or worse, get thrown off their flight. They can be found in the bar right up until last call for boarding. They run wildly onto the plane, laughing about how they almost missed it. They order drinks before the in-flight bar is open and they can easily distract everyone sitting near them.
They are not afraid to get into a physical alteration and may even start one on their own.
If you are on the overnight flight with the manic traveler, don’t expect to get much rest. They don’t need sleep. Their thoughts are racing, their body is racing and you may even find them in the airplane bathroom cleaning if they get bored. In extreme manic cases, they may try to enter the pilot area thinking they too can fly the plane. Medication may be what is needed to calm this person down, especially if they are acting in a dangerous manner. Even though they may need medicine, good luck trying to get them to take it. Mania feels good so why would they want to get rid of it?
There is nothing you can do to prepare for the types of travelers you will meet at the airport.
You don’t know them ahead of time to make sure they have taken their meds and gotten therapy before they travel. You don’t have their therapist on speed dial.
What you can do to make travel better for everyone is to recognize if YOU are one of these types of travelers.
Are you a depressed, narcissist, histrionic, avoidant, dependent, paranoid or manic type of traveler? Be honest with yourself. Which traits fit your personality? Figure this out and make travel arrangements that either compliment your mental health or control it. The best thing you can do is to think of all the other travelers you will encounter.
By taking control of your travel personality disorder, you will in turn make travel better for yourself and for others. Do this and enjoy life, both domestically and internationally.