We don’t always take the bait from emails, but this one caught our eye: Can taking the Myers-Briggs personality test help you figure out how you should travel? An ISTJ personality type (stands for “introverted, sensing, thinking, judging”), for example, is known for an attention to detail and interest in doing things correctly—but does that mean such a person needs a well-planned itinerary to enjoy a trip? Meanwhile, ENFPs (extroverted, intuitive, feeling, perceiving) tend to be social and like meeting new people—so will they enjoy themselves most in a big city like Rio de Janeiro? We dug a little deeper and polled some AFAR editors to see what Myers-Briggs types can really show about travel.
What is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator?
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, or MBTI, is a self-examination questionnaire designed to identify your personality type, strengths, and preferences. The test measures four different areas of personality—how you direct and receive energy, how you take in information, how you make decisions, and how you approach the outside world. Your results will place you in 1 of 16 categories named using a scramble of letters that stand for different facets of your personality. Most people focus on the first letter—I or E—which indicates whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, but the full profile is much more nuanced.
AFAR editors and their MBTIs
To find out if our personality types really matched up with our travel styles, we took free online tests from 16Personalities, then we sifted through a number of articles that claim to be able to use our results to predict how and where we should travel. We looked at a few of the top hits on Google—from Bustle, Jetsetter, Clozette—and a detailed guide created with help from psychologists and personality test experts published, surprisingly, on the Kalon Surf School blog.
Michelle Baran, Travel News Editor
Type: ISFJ (introverted, sensing, feeling, judging)
Where she should travel: Both Clozette and Jetsetter point out that ISFJs have balanced personalities and are receptive to change, and their destination recommendations are similar—Istanbul and Budapest, both cities with thriving culture and a good mix of ancient and modern. But Bustle and Kalon both focus more on how, according to 16Personalities, ISFJs are “introverted but have well-developed people skills” and are committed to making the world a better place. These two sources suggested camping with a small group of friends and plenty of downtime and photo opportunities.
Was it accurate? “According to the suggested travel for ISFJs, I should be up for an organized camping trip with a small group of friends. Not too far off base at all! I’m actually in the process of planning a potential trip with my two best friends and their families for 2020, and one of the options we’re looking into is doing something like the Airstream lodge Autocamp in Yosemite. Not true camping per se, but it hits on a lot of the same notes. But I did kind of wince when the Kalon guide said, ‘You also tend to take lots of pictures and buy lots of souvenirs.’ I definitely do neither of these things.”
Lyndsey Matthews, Destination News Editor
Where she should travel: Same as above
Was it accurate? For Matthews, the part about being a social introvert and the suggestion from Bustle and Kalon to plan time to unwind between activities rang true. And unlike Baran, she does like taking pictures and buying souvenirs to remember her travels. “I wouldn’t say it’s an obsession, but I do enjoy this part of traveling. As much as I like being alone/traveling solo though, I do like interacting with humans and putting the camera down.”
Sara Button, Assistant Editor
Type: ESFJ (extroverted, sensing, feeling, judging)
Where she should travel: Recommendations for ESFJ were all over the map. Both Bustle and Kalon recommended trips with large groups of people to far-flung places; Bustle recommended a festival, and Kalon recommended a family trip to somewhere like Paris or Santorini because ESFJs’ first priority is family or chosen family. But Jetsetter recommended a trip to Los Angeles, because ESFJs are “known for their popularity, service to others, and great fashion sense,” and Clozette recommended Ipoh, Malaysia, since ESFJs love learning and connecting with other cultures.
Was it accurate? “Last time I tested as an ESFJ, I was 99 percent Extrovert, so it definitely tracks that my dream trip would be with family and chosen family (in fact, I’ve gone on some very successful trips with both groups!). I’m not so sure a group trip somewhere crazy far-flung sounds very pleasant to me, but I do like the idea of traveling somewhere that has plenty to do and see, which also allow folks to split up and do their own thing for awhile. Big cities like Paris certainly appeal, and if I were to go to Santorini with a group, I’d want to go in shoulder season to avoid the mega crowds and have a more local experience. But I have tested in the past as an ENFJ, and now I’m reading the ENFP description and feel like I align quite well with that, too!”
Nicole Antonio, Managing Editor
Where should she go? All four of our sources agreed on how/where the INTJ should travel: Because of a thirst for knowledge and a desire for a deeper understanding of the world, INTJs should go to places like Tropea, Italy, or Petra, Jordan, where they can learn. They should also opt for solo trips instead of guided excursions because they don’t like waiting around on others. Similarly, INFJs are inquisitive, and all four sites recommend they find a way to slow down and relax on vacation. But Kalon and Bustle recommend feeding the INFJ’s need to serve others with a volunteer trip or an immersive homestay.
Was it accurate? “I’m a longtime INTJ who sometimes tests as an INFJ, so it makes sense that half of each trip result feels right for me: yes to solo trips and relaxing destinations, no to historical locations and volunteering. (That makes me sound like an uncultured monster, but there’s a reason INTJs are stereotyped as evil masterminds.) I plan everything (including time to unwind) and enjoy interacting with people in small doses.”
While the popular articles often disagreed about which aspects of a personality type determine how a person should travel, by and large, we found that a lot of the predictions did match up to our travel styles. Our detail-oriented INTJ likes to plan her trips in advance, and one of our social ISFJs needs to give her introverted side some downtime on a trip. But quite a few of the destination suggestions missed the mark completely. Maybe we should consult the stars instead?