I love reading travel magazine and blogs, learning new places and getting tips from the experts. Lately, however, there seems to be a lot of emphasis on being a ‘traveler’ when you journey rather than a ‘tourist’. What is the difference? And what’s all the hype about the so-called ‘traveler’?
First, traveler is an eight letter word, and tourist is a seven letter word; tourist doesn’t have a or e in it, and traveler doesn’t have o or i.
(taken from Robert Couse-Baker/flickr) – the image conjured up when tourist is mentioned
Despite the two words being a synonym of each other, it appears that tourists are reserved for the stereotypical visitors who target all the famous sights and museums on a whistle stop tour. They generally stay within well-visited area and by default miss the culture and hidden gems the city has to offer. They can be further subdivided into those who have their nose buried in the guidebook and refuses to venture outside the map provided and those who have absolutely no idea what they are looking at but happy to cross the well-recognized sight they see off their bucket list. Basically, people who either act like a know-it-all or who just doesn’t care about what they are seeing.
(taken from Jens Schott Knudsen/flickr) – the hype and misconception making travelers seems cool
Travelers? Well they are the savvy people who come to experience things, those who take calculated adventures and became in tune with the locals, essentially the people you see on Instagram or travel magazines parading their adventures to the world. Truth be told, I was impressed beyond words the first few times I read stories like this; but after a while I began to realise that some of them are just riding on the bandwagon of amazing travel writers and bloggers out there and marketing themselves to the public as travel gurus to gain a following.
Now before you go and jump into the conclusion that all travel bloggers and writers are phonies, there are plenty out there who means what they say; I have read countless beautiful and inspirational stories that urges people to see the world and learn from it. However, I have a hard time stomaching articles by people who travel in luxury and branding themselves as being spiritual and holistic, overusing words such as inspiring, follow your heart, in tune with nature whilst taking glamorous photos of themselves with a cocktail. Right.
If jumping in front of a sight is your thing – do it. I know I did!
Before I get carried away with my rant let’s get back to the topic at hand. Travelers and tourists. My advice is that don’t let the silly categories dictates you. Not everyone has the time or the energy to learn all about a city, its cultures, language and embark on a fully immersive journey there. You can spend your whole life trying and you wouldn’t be able to get half way across the world. Your live is made up of choices, and this is one of them. Unless your dream is to become an explorer, there bounds to be a particular place(s) that send your heart into flutters every time it’s mention on print or by someone. Those are the ones that you want to truly immerse yourself into. For example, I am absolutely fascinated by the ancient Greek and Roman civilization, so when I went to Italy and Greece I soaked up all the information like a cactus in the desert. Whereas when I went to Prague, I was able to admire the city and its history, but I didn’t venture beyond the one paragraph summary offered in the guide book.
There’s no best way to travel, only the best way for you to travel. Some people are into backpacking, but that might not be your thing. There’s nothing wrong with only visiting the most famous sights, after all, they are what draws you to visit the city; there’s no wrong way to travel, as long as you are happy, then travel in whatever way you want – hop around, jump around, take a million photos, sit at a café, do your thing!