“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they are going. – Paul Theroux” We all have often gotten into the debate about whether someone is a traveler or a tourist. The debate is endless and there’s no point arguing over it. However, over the last 10 years of our travels, we have observed some distinguishing factors between the two. Please note that this is based on what we have experienced and not an attempt to judge any type but simply highlighting the differences.
Tourists stick out, travelers blend in
Tourists go about taking pictures and one big sign is the scores of selfies they click. Every popular spot, every view-point, every monument is crowded with people to the last inch, with their selfy sticks jutting out of the crowd. Trying their best to get one good shot. They are the ones complaining about too many people around. Travelers on the other hand are not conspicuous. They blend in and act like the locals trying to absorb the local culture. Their focus is more on memories and experiences rather than selfies.
Travelers know where they are going and dress accordingly as well.
Tourists need comfort; travelers need adventure
At one point in time, I needed a proper hotel room with a bed, AC, TV, and housekeeping. I would fret at the slightest discomfort and make a scene if I wasn’t served food on time. But the more I traveled, I realize that these actually don’t contribute to my experience. Instead, they often become barriers in me having a great time. If I could only leave behind my inhibitions, my desires, my needs and travel free, I would have a memorable trip. And with time, I let go of these needs and today I can adapt to any room, any food, any place, any person and any situation. That helps me focus more on the things that matter and less on other stuff.
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Tourist checks in; traveler connects
A typical tourist wants to check into Facebook, foursquare wanting to show off their vacations. They like to cross of destinations from their list or build a list of exotic destinations they have been to. A Traveller, on the other hand, focusses on connecting with the place and the people for he/she will return someday.
They want to be in sync with the place, connect with it to indulge in the emotions that surround these destinations.
Tourists extract; travelers contribute
This is a big one. What we have noticed is that responsible travelers often appreciate the places they go to and respect the nature/beauty around them. You generally don’t see them throwing garbage, scribbling names on monuments or screaming their lungs out on a hilltop. Travelers seem to respect the tranquility of a place and respect others around them. I have come across people who pick garbage from jungles, hilltops because they feel for the nature around them. They are the ones who understand what ecotourism is and respect the unwritten laws of the place.
Tourists, on most occasions, are the ones drinking and throwing bottles around, even in jungles where wildlife often gets hurt due to this. You often see them professing their love on the walls of our historical monuments or picnicking around and leaving paper plates behind. Their focus seems more to make the most of the place, how to get the possible value for money or to experience the freedom to do things that they can’t at home
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Tourists have groups; travelers can go solo
We being travelers can go anywhere even if it has to be alone. We look for opportunities to travel, connect with people, look for unknown destinations and feel the moment. For this purpose, we often do not require any companion as the journey itself is our companion. But a tourist often seeks comfort and engagement in the company they move around with. They need to have their friends/family with them otherwise they the whole trip becomes a bit mundane
Tourists see; travelers experience
More than often we see people reaching a destination, taking pictures, eating good food and leaving. As if they are on a mission to cross off destinations from a list. People like us, travelers, however, focus more on experiences, emotions of the place rather than the number of destinations they have been to. They are the ones who will come back with stories to share and can engage an audience in deep conversations about their journeys.
Leave your comments and let us know what your experiences are!
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