We all dream of spending our days traveling around the world and seeing some of the best sights out there. While some of us are happy to spend our times sitting on the beach sipping those margaritas, others like to dirt it up and get our hands messy while we immerse ourselves in new cultures.
We throw these terms around a lot: tourist and traveler.
Generally, travelers are seen as romantic and free-thinking spirits who will carry nothing but a passport and a backpack. Tourists will join an organized group and stick to the major attractions.
What are the main differences between these two methods of vacationing, and is there a preferred option? We break them down here.
Tourist: Will See The Sites
It’s no surprise that people will want to see some of the most famous sites when traveling to different countries and cultures. Why venture to Paris and not see the Eiffel Tower? Each major city will have its fair share of museums and galleries that show off the unique history and value of the particular country. It would be a shame not to make the effort and arrange a time to explore as much as you can while you are away.
Traveler: Will Meet The Locals
Travelers usually spend more time walking around the city and speaking to people who aren’t affiliated with any tour program or initiative. What better way to get an idea for a city or country than by speaking with people who live there? It can be incredibly insightful to gain information from the horse’s mouth (if you will). Some of the best adventures will be with people you meet along the way and friends you make for life because of it.
Tourist: Will Study The Guidebooks
You’ll rarely see a tourist without the latest edition of The Lonely Planet. These are incredibly useful to help you plan an effective itinerary for your trip. Nowadays, there is an abundance of WiFi spots to help you go online while you travel, but it is not recommended to rely on it. Having a pocketbook of the essentials, like restaurants or hotels, will help you plan on the go and find travel routes. Make sure you have the newest edition for all the latest additions!
Traveler: Will Get Lost
Travelers are likely to follow their nose and see where it takes them once they arrive in a new city. There are many benefits to this: you end up seeing things you wouldn’t necessarily see and have the chance to make your own adventures while away. It’s not advised to not plan anything, however, since it’s easy to bypass some absolute must-sees if you continue to wing it. Would you want to miss seeing Big Ben in London?
Tourist: Will Speak English
A huge advantage of knowing English is that it is widely considered the global language. As the most spoken second language in the world, it’s never hard to find someone to communicate with. This is incredibly useful when it comes to dealing with emergencies that might arise when you are away, or if there are any dietary requirements you abide by when you eat. It’s a great safety net and might just save your life. You are more likely to come into language barriers in Europe or Asia.
Traveler: Will Learn A New Language
We get it, languages aren’t for everyone. Some people can listen to someone speak for a few moments and instantly pick up bits of the local language, whereas some of us struggle to get by. Travelers are more likely to try and pick up the language they hear – even if it’s just a few phrases. Knowing how to say ‘one beer please’ is valuable in any language, so it will never hurt to learn it! Learning the native tongue for ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ can go a long way.
Tourist: Will Pack Accordingly
One of the biggest challenges before a trip is knowing what to take beforehand. Depending on where you travel to you can always pick up more of the essentials if needed, but this might not always be the case. If you are camping in a remote place, tourists will have the bug spray! If you are in a city, the chances are you can always collect what you need. Of course, you should always leave enough space in your back to go shopping on the way.
Traveler: Will Act On Impulses
Travelers should be encouraged to act on any creative impulses they may have. Adventures don’t happen unless you’re more open to new opportunities. This could lead to a myriad of new experiences: fine dining with locals, skydiving off the coastal cliffs, or an increase in local purchases. Never be afraid to act out any desire you may have – you’re on holiday, live a little! When opening up to foreign opportunities you’ll make memories that will last a lifetime.
Tourist: Will Find The Best Deals
Good planning for a trip means you’ll be prepared for almost anything that comes your way. Tourists usually are a lot more accustomed to conducting the appropriate research which leads to better deals. This can be either in financial costs or enhanced experience. Either way, better deals lead to better experiences and an overall more worthwhile vacation. A little planning can go a long way – and tourists might just get the edge on this over travelers. Look into it more next time!
Traveler: Will Support Local Business
The advantage of straying away from tour books and hotel recommendations is that you naturally steer away from the expensive tourist traps. Many guides and concierges are in partnerships with businesses which hash out the same deals to hundreds of people for a fixed price. Alternatively, you don’t want to be someone who sticks to mass chained corporate companies when traveling. Make an effort to support small, local cafes and markets – the prices will be lower and the experiences more authentic.
Tourist: Will Find Time To Relax
Some people book a trip overseas just for the sole purpose to switch off and find time to catch up on personal time. This can include reading a book, getting a tan, or successfully hitting eight hours of sleep one night! Tourists might make more of an investment in their hotel choice if it includes a nice balcony or pool area and might also dedicate more time to simply enjoy the zen of leaving your home behind – something we all could benefit from every so often.
Traveler: Will Eat Anything
Nothing is more exotic than having a local dish placed in front of you without quite knowing what’s in it! The amazing part of traveling is the joy people get from eating and drinking together over a new dish. It’s always important to consider choosing something you’ve never eaten before prepared by people who eat it every day. It is a huge shame when people travel overseas and resort to eating their favorite dish from home. You can have a Spaghetti Bolognese anywhere – don’t have one in Thailand!
Tourist: Will Respect Local Culture And Politics
We live in charged times, to say the least. The chances are there are people in the world who disagree with you, or your country’s politics and culture. The East and West are different and it is imperative to respect the land you are visiting. You are lucky to visit a place with a rich history and a culture that is different to your own so you should always honor it. Take the chance to experience a new way of living, and maybe open your mind to new ways of thinking while you’re there!
Traveler: Will Travel Alone
Nothing is more liberating than being in a city and left to your own devices. We live lives that are often dictated by decisions not made by us, and traveling alone is the best way to shake things up. When you travel in a group you are often restricted in what you can achieve. When you’re alone, you make the plan. Want to sleep all day? Want to walk around or sit in a cafe? When you’re alone, you find things out about yourself you didn’t know were there. No one has ever regretted it.
Tourist: Will Remain True To Themselves
Tourists are usually very self-aware to the fact that they are visitors in another country. While this brings with it important aspects like respect and kindness, it can also lead to more embarrassing moments. The tourist mindset is a brave thing to embrace: loud English speaking while wearing your college sweater and overtipping. People can usually already tell that you are not a local so tourists are more likely to embrace it. No one likes the traveler who claims an emotional connection to Buddhism after walking down Khaosan Road once.
Traveler: Will Keep An Open Mind
Plenty of food, culture, politics, religion, and lifestyles to explore out there – keep an open mind! This is far more important than the tourist photos or local dishes; it is a state of mind to remain open to anything that you might benefit from. This point encompasses many of the previous points. Be open to ideas and new experiences that will enrich your vacation in more ways than you even know. As long as you remain safe, never be afraid to go to new places.
Tourist: Will Have An Instagram Feed
You’re likely to know that your friend from high school is in Italy because she’s posted a picture of her holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Your colleague just placed his finger at the top of an Egyptian pyramid after waiting in line for 15 minutes. These are the people who live for the likes and not for the smiles along the way. The shame in this is that there isn’t anything unique or special about the trip. Tourist will make sure to get the photo but not much else. Travelers may not get the photo at all.
Traveler: Will Try A Homestay
Hotels are quickly being disrupted by Airbnb stays, which in turn are quickly shifting to homestays. This new way of visiting a new country includes staying with a local in their home, who in turn shows you an authentic experience seldom offered by larger hotel groups. With a homestay, travelers can break bread with their new local friends and enjoy nights out on the town in underrated and unique places not disturbed by other tourists. It’s more chaotic, but it’s the traveler way!
Tourist: Will Get Vaccinations
This is really a tip that should be followed by tourists and travelers, due to the health risks if not followed. Tourists are likely to get all the necessary shots before a planned trip – something a traveler can overlook if they are flying somewhere on an impulse. This remains particularly important if westerners are traveling east to places like India or Thailand. Consult your doctor if you think you need a shot. You don’t want to get sick while you are away, so check it out/
Traveler: Will Get Dirty
With no hotel, no suitcase, and no plan – travelers are out to get dirty. Sleeping on sofas and riding on overnight trains can take its toll on the traveler’s body – often leading to a bit more dirt than desired. Travelers won’t rely on the sweetness of a hotel which can be a humbling and exciting experience. There’s no better way to experience a new city or culture by diving straight into the deep end. Life is messy, so why not add a little punch to your vacation?