Last weekend I travelled back to the UK from the Netherlands for a family gathering and being the nonchalant travel professional that I am, I was running (very, very) late. As I walked (ahem, raced) through Schiphol’s main entrance I realised I had only eleven minutes to make it to my gate before it closed, including the dreaded walk through security. I got there in eight minutes.

Knowing how to navigate airports, master a stress-free stroll through security and run at 10mph through terminal buildings (in heels, of course) is only thanks to years and years and years of travelling. As I queued to board the plane, berating myself for not taking advantage of those three minutes by buying a coffee, I realised there are many signs that tell me I’m now a traveller for life and so I decided to list some of them.

With a little help from my fellow Travelettes, here are seventy-seven signs that tell you that you are a true blue, bonafide, “eating noodles for breakfast” traveller… So, how many do you relate to?

You know you’re a traveller…

  1. When you begin at least two sentences a day with “When I was in… “
  2. When you own a pair of Thai fisherman pants.
  3. When there are at least ten different songs that take you back to ten different places with a tear in your eye and a smile on your face.
  4. When you know the value of walking in the sea on your own.Lake-Wakatipu
  5. When your boss doesn’t ask why you want time off, he/she just says “Where are you going this time?”.
  6. When you know exactly where the “Travel” section is in your local bookstore.
  7. When you don’t need a scale to measure your luggage… and you always know when it’s too heavy.
  8. When you know the value of having a stash of clothes pegs, sealable sandwich bags and a head torch in your backpack.
  9. When you find yourself thinking in a mishmash of foreign languages.
  10. When you see nothing weird about getting your passport out just to flick through the pages and count the stamps, even on your own.519948326_4ae4bca4d8_z
  11. When you have or have at least considered at length a travel related tattoo (that you would need to travel back to Thailand to get, of course).
  12. When you have a collection of SIM cards from around the world and you keep hold of them, just in case…
  13. When you can say thank you in more than ten different languages – go on try!
  14. When navigating your way around a new country or city by public transport excites you as much as it scares you.
  15. When you are perfectly content with a beach and sunset (and cocktail of choice) for
  16. When people regularly write on your Facebook wall, “Where are you at the moment?”
  17. When you feel a bit weird about lending someone else your backpack/suitcase… what if you need it again soon?
  18. When your friends always ask you for holiday advice.
  19. When you have Travelettes saved in your bookmarks (good girl!).
  20. When you hire a bike in Amsterdam, hop on the tube in London and jump in a yellow cab in New York… just like the locals do.6035496757_aaf119dc02_z
  21. When you can relate to most of these 100 little things I’ve learned from travel and 100 things I’ve learned from backpacking.
  22. When there are some books you just can’t give away because you read them during a life-changing journey.
  23. When you have bravely tried durian.
  24. When you have friends from all over the world but you didn’t meet them in their (or your) country of origin.
  25. When you can tell the difference between Singha and Chang and you definitely prefer one to the other (I’m a Singha girl!).
  26. When you find throwing out the pair of flip flops that got your round South America a very emotional event.2769724044_c4f42b4cf6_z
  27. When you can tell the different between the sun in Europe, Asia and Australia.
  28. When you own more than five bikinis.
  29. When your toiletries bag isn’t the size of a suitcase; there are very few places you can’t buy shampoo these days.
  30. When you can do currency exchanges in your head and it doesn’t hurt. Well, not all the time.
  31. When you stay in on a Friday and Saturday night because you’re saving for your next trip and you don’t even mind looking at everyone’s drunk photos afterwards. Hey, remember, hangovers are happier when you’re travelling, kinda.
  32. When you have an impressive collection of photos of you doing one particular pose in a number of different locations across the world.9615486456_21b524027e_z
  33. When your Mum/Grandma/best friend has a stack of your postcards on their mantelpiece.
  34. When your New Years’ Resolutions include country names.
  35. When you keep airplane boarding pass stubs.
  36. When you don’t even own an iron.
  37. When you have a Thelma to your Louise.9612249331_0564f44066_z
  38. When you know that in many parts of the world a scooter is a family vehicle for four… or more.
  39. When you keep your toiletries and make up in a wash bag at home, even though you have space to unpack.
  40. When you know the airport codes for at least ten airports.
  41. When you always have a bottle of hand wash detergent.
  42. When you get slightly less annoyed with tourists in your home city compared to everyone else; you get why they are here.
  43. When you know that there are parts of the world where the ocean is so blue, a camera just can’t do it justice.367723186_2922bbf4a2_z
  44. When you’re relied upon in pub quizzes to answer questions about capital cities.
  45. When you apply sunscreen before you’ve even stepped outside, you know how sneaky that sun is and how painful sunburn can be.
  46. When you have a credit card that allows you to collect air miles.
  47. When an upgrade to business class would make you happier than a hundred birthdays.
  48. When you magically overcome a fear of needles to get your vaccinations.
  49. When you have a small jar of Tigerbalm that goes everywhere with you.
  50. When you have a Pinterest board that is nothing but maps.c4b89f0a14a00dd4e03e57aaa79ff4c0
  51. When you always know exactly where your passport is.
  52. When you have an irrational love of flags.
  53. When you have slept in at least five different airports around the world.
  54. When you have nodded sagely throughout the film L’Auberge Espagnole.
  55. When you have three or more trips already planned out, you’re just waiting to win the lottery.
  56. When you have playlists on your iPod that are just country names.
  57. When you know the difference between gelato and ice cream.LartedelGelato_DSC_6313-2_xs
  58. When you know that Post-Holiday Blues is a very serious affliction. (But here are 30 ways you can beat them!)
  59. When you can recall times when your tan lines get so white they glow in the dark.
  60. When you know there is probably a handful of hostel workers or travellers wearing some of the trail of clothes you’ve left behind to reduce the weight of your backpack as you travel.
  61. When you know that “tramping” in New Zealand, “rambling” in the UK and “bushwalking” in Australia all mean roughly the same thing.8489732471_847669824f_z
  62. When you’ve spent at least one evening in a foreign city with a box of wine and a group of people you’ve never met before.
  63. When you have a stash of forgotten written postcards to send home in your backpack that date back a month ago. (Sorry Mum!)
  64. When someone asks where you got your outfit from and you name about four different countries rather than shops.
  65. When you have to factor in time zones to every Skype call you plan.
  66. When you know how exhausting a day on the beach can be… 6756749499_fcaf361b2d_z
  67. When you know the correct pronunciation of “Pho”.
  68. When your suitcase is part of your interior design (because putting it away doesn’t make sense).
  69. When you keep plug adaptors organised by region, or you have a collection of “one converts all” adaptors.
  70. When you know you can live quite happily without a hair dryer, hair straighteners or hair spray.
  71. When you know to take a couple of painkillers before a long day of carrying your backpack.
  72. When you have perfected the art of killing a cockroach with just a keen eye and a Havaianas flip-flop.
  73. When the world has got in the way of a new love or you’ve attempted at least one long-distance relationship… but you have no regrets.
  74. When you’ve had at least one fight with a member of airline staff over the weight of your bags exceeding their limits.
  75. When you have an unconditional love for airports. Always have, always will.5709814344_51fc36d60c_z
  76. When you know the style potential of a pair of scissors in adapting a T-shirt into a dress, a cute vest top or even a bag.
  77. When you now feel obliged to share this list with at least five of the people you’ve travelled with in your lifetime and they don’t all live in the same country as you…
Photos: Girl walking on beach, Passport pages, Girl on bike in Amsterdam, Flip-flops, Gelato, Girl hiking in woods, Girl swimming in sea, Girl at airport


This post was written by Frankie Thompson who was a Travelette from 2012 – 2015. Originally from London, UK, Frankie was nomadic for several years before settling in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where she lives with her Australian partner and baby boy. She spends her time buying vintage dresses, riding a rusty old bike around the canals and writing books inspired by her travels. Frankie blogs about travel, writing and motherhood at As the Bird flies blog.