I don’t consider myself a well traveled man by any means… yet, but I have found that in my travels there tends to be a difference between travelers and tourists.
You’re thinking, “But it means the same thing.”
Not the same, they could be like sister words. Well… more like second cousins maybe. ha
So what is the difference you ask? First, let me list the actual definition of the two words. Afterward, I’ll list my opinionated definition with a blurb to better define the terms.
Traveler – 1.) a person or thing that travels 2.) a person who travels or has traveled in distant places or foreign lands
Tourist– 1.) a person who is traveling, especially for pleasure.
Traveler – 1.) a person who can travel light and be open to changes and adventure 2.) a person who looks to learn about a culture while traveling
Tourist – 1.) a person who travels for pleasure with no intent to change lifestyle or learn about another culture
I’ve had this conversation with multiple travelers and how it can be frustrating running into tourists. I know that travelers and tourists both go to the same locations but it’s how they handle themselves that I feel really defines them.
When I travel I want to get a sense of the people and culture of the place I’m visiting. Along with that I try to be mindful of the customs of where I go. I may not have any idea of what I’m going to do when I arrive but I will be well read and versed on things to do as well as ways to comfortably mesh in with the locals.
I would say most travelers that I encounter tend to travel light and modest. They don’t tend to draw attention to themselves by an overwhelming amount of luggage or flamboyant apparel.
When I’ve come across tourists they travel to live as if they were at home. Many times with multiple bags or one large suitcase, filled with x number of outfits and pairs of shoes. I have also met a lot of people in the transition phase where they begin cutting back on materials with every new trip.
When it comes to attractions, a traveler tends to be an admirer and lover of the place where many times, tourists go to say they went. Of course they go for the attraction but tend to hold it as a feat more so than an appreciation of something awe-inspiring.
I know I generalize a lot and not everybody is one or the other but these are just some blaring things that I have noticed. I’m not trying to put myself on a pedestal either. I’ll admit, I started off with a tourist mindset and have grown to really love and embrace the places I go, people I meet and places I see. Over time I’ve drastically cut back on what I take and improved on my chameleon travel mode.
I feel like this a fun and debatable topic, so please comment below. Let me know what you think. Is this a fair observation? Am I missing anything? Any differences you would care to add between the two?
P.S. I’m not saying a traveler can’t be a tourist or a tourist can’t be a traveler. Just so we’re clear. It ultimately comes down to having respect for the people/places/things that we encounter during our travels, however we travel.