This may seem a strange travel tip but knowing what kind of tourist or traveler you are will help set your expectations and probably improve your travel adventures. Read the following list of three types of traveler to see where or where you find a match.
The Recreational Traveler: Usually looking to unwind, disengage and is not interested so much in local flavor or local customs and the culture. Might be one to simply sit on the beach and relax, read a book, play golf or just rest. Is not opposed to foreign locations but not interested in being immersed deeply in a new culture. May just want to recharge their batteries before another year in the office.
The Experiential Traveler: This traveler searches for meaning within other cultures. Inquisiting and inquiring, this traveler gets benefit the exterior of strange new worlds and seeks to get the most experience (learning) out of a destination as possible. Willing to risk in order to gain experience, this traveler will have deep desires to engage a different culture and find deeper meaning within it. No expatriate bars and restaurants for this type!
The Experimental Traveler: Not only willing to try new things but almost actively seeks them. May be looking for meaning outside their present existence and are willing to try (and perhaps fail) in travels to new destinations rather than not travel at all. A subset of the experimental traveler is the existential traveler. One who indeed finds meaning in a new culture and now wishes to engage in it long term even. May be back home pining for that favorite city or country, favorite beach or mountain trip and actively saves for another trip to the same spot or even a new destination as an experiment. They have already disengaged from their routine and have inwardly relocated to their desired place.
There is room for all expressions of tourist in the world of travel but what causes 'bad vacations' usually results from one not understanding what type of traveler they are. The recreational tourist may not want to go on a guided tour, walks or hikes into the mountains and will not be happy if forced to by a travel partner. Their partner in turn may not want to sit on the beach all day either. When traveling in pairs or groups, accommodations may have to be made for others so they can find the extent of their desires. While those traveling to foreign locations and NOT wanting to actively engage in a new culture may be short-changing themselves, it should not cause a whole trip to be ruined.
Knowing what type of traveler you are should make it easier to choose destinations and then enjoy the trip much more since you are setting up your trip for success rather than failure.