There’s undoubtedly more than one way to travel. From budget backpackers (like yours truly) to business travel, religious retreats, luxury vacations and more – the spectrum is quite broad. What’s great about that is you can travel in whatever style suits you best.
In the travel world, the difference between travellers and tourists is largely discussed and debated. Many people are quick to hate on those who dub themselves as travellers but fall more along the lines of a tourist. The problem with this scenario is that there isn’t really a specific line that defines who is a traveller vs who is a tourist.
From my experience, all travellers start out as tourists. Unless you grow up living a nomadic lifestyle, there’s a good chance that your first few experiences with travel will be as a classic tourist. Weather your first experience in a new place was on a family vacation, with friends or by yourself, it’s hard to know the difference between travelling as a tourist or otherwise. It’s only after numerous solo trips that I’ve found a better understanding of the different ways people travel.
Being seen as a tourist is seen as ‘negative’ in the eyes of many – but why is that? Tourists are known by many stereotypes …
Tourists Stereotypes consist of:
- Being uncultured
- Taking part in organized tours
- Only staying in nice hotels/resorts
- Only visiting the most well-known attractions
- Not attempting to learn the local language
- Buying overpriced souvenirs
- Relying on maps to get around
- Holding onto their selfie sticks for dear life
The list goes on and on …
When you start travelling more as a ‘traveller’ and less as a typical tourist, you start to see what people are missing out on. With that being said though, I’ve by no means lost all of the tourist within me.
I sure as hell checked out the Nine Arch Bridge when I was in Sri Lanka (See 2 Week Itinerary here), did the Tongariro Crossing hike in New Zealand and walked down the beautifully graffitied Hosier Lane in Melbourne, Australia – because WHY NOT?
The more I’ve travelled and engaged with other backpackers, the more authentic and unique experiences I’ve had. For example, when I was in Sri Lanka I took the local buses and had life changing discussions with the locals. When I look back on my first solo trip to Iceland, I NEVER would have done something like this. I was new to travelling by myself and without a SIM card to help with directions, the fear of getting lost deterred me from hopping on the local transportation to get around.
So my burning question is:
Why can’t we have our cake and eat it too?
No type of travel is perfect in any respect. Whether you plan everything down to the hour of each day or don’t even have accommodation booked for the night – travel is travel. You’re experiencing the world on your terms and doing what’s comfortable for you. So if it takes you a little time to go from tourist to traveller, who cares? The more you travel, the more people you’ll meet who will open up your eyes to the possibilities around you and challenge you to challenge yourself. So ignore any travel snobs you meet along the way and do what works for you!
Until next time!