Tourist vs. traveller

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The whole ‘tourist vs. traveller’ thing isn’t exactly a new topic. Google taught me that many articles were written about the supposed differences or sameness of both terms. The definition of both terms isn’t that different either. I’m not going to read all those articles or regurgitate what others have written. But maybe I am still writing what others have written, but I won’t know it because I haven’t read it. Still with me? 😛

One can argue both terms and I personally think, that is totally fine. We don’t need to label everything, nor should we feel the need to have to choose between the two. It’s not that big of a deal anyway. It’s just something that I’ve been thinking about since I had some friends from abroad staying over and we did one of the most touristy things in the country: visit the Keukenhof! I can only speak from personal experience anyway.

I caught myself thinking that I don’t want to be seen as a tourist. Then again, why does it matter? Maybe there is no difference between the two terms at all. One isn’t better than the other. I’ve experienced that for me the biggest difference lies in two things:

How I organise my trip
Do I arrange everything myself or do I just book a package deal and just show up. Sometimes I’d want the former, (New Zealand) sometimes the latter (my trip to Kefalonia), but most often it’s a combination of the two. And it’s okay.

How long I have for the trip
When I’m on a short trip, I’d want to make the most of my time in that certain place. When I’m on a long trip, I have more time to take my time. I can ‘waste a day away’ if I feel so inclined. One could argue that you can do that on short trips as well, but this is just my experience. I’d have more time to do local things as well and go off recommendations from locals.

So when do I feel like a traveller?

  • When I travel for longer periods of time. I’ve travelled for 3 to 5 months at a time, but also longer holidays -e.g. a month- still feel like a travel rather than a touristy trip.
  • When I manage to chat with locals and get a feel of local life.
  • When I’ve travelled somewhere before or long enough so that I know what I’m doing, like New Zealand. Otherwise, just pretend to know what you’re doing, haha!
  • When I get to relax and don’t have to run from tour to museum to beautiful building. It’s so nice to have down time in between where I do nothing or very little and just get to enjoy my day.
  • When there are heaps of people travelling solo. I travel solo most of the time, which is fine and I’d rather travel solo than not at all. I find that on the more touristy trips, like to Kefalonia, things are more catered towards couples or families, as that seems to be the most common.

And when do I feel like a tourist?

  • When I think I’m being charged more than I should. ‘Special price for you’…yeah right! Vendors have a nose for tourists! Things should just have a certain price and not vary depending on who is buying or who is not experienced in haggling down a price.
  • When people bug me and try to sell me things as I walk around minding my own business. This annoys me back home as well, by the way. The difference on a holiday is that I might not know the intricacies of certain customs or behaviours.
  • When people working in restaurants try to lure me into eating at theirs’, while not bothering people who look ‘local enough’. I’m quite capable in deciding where I want to eat, thank you very much.
  • When I book a package deal or a tour and all I have to do is show up, sit and walk. And you know what? I like that too!
  • When it feels unfair to be spending a lot of money. I remember this feeling from our family holiday to Hungary in 1993, only two years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, which had divided Western Europe and Eastern Europe until 1991. Tourists were seen as rich people and it felt really uncomfortable when you know you’re not. We weren’t people flaunting our money, we were ‘Family Average’. I just don’t want to take advantage of anyone or be taken advantage of because I seem like a rich Western tourist.

Basically, this whole tourist and traveller thing doesn’t matter. I just wanted to share some thoughts I have on the subject and illustrate them with some personal experiences. I hope you like this post, as it’s a little different from my usual content. I think it still fits within the general gist of my blog, which is TRAVEL!

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Published by Alive and Trekking

Dreamer. Adventurer. Traveller. Geek. Idealist. Nature. New Zealand, Nordic countries and the Arctic.

2 thoughts on “Tourist vs. traveller

  1. I like your distinctions, and I tend to want to be more ‘traveling’ than ‘touring’ — or maybe, more ‘being with’ than ‘touring’ (since I really like returning to the same place more than once and I enjoy just taking in wherever I’m visiting, doing the ‘local’ stuff and not necessarily doing the ‘check list’ of all the places one should or is enticed to visit so they can say they’d seen. … Naturally, sometimes I am a tourist … and WANT to see the ‘tourist’ sites, but more often than not, I prefer the experience over the touring, if that makes sense at all …
    Happy traveling (still not sure where I’ll be traveling to this summer … will likely to end up being one more of my impromptue–book today, go tomorrow shorties …
    🙂 Na’ama

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great article and I totally agree. For us it’s about taking the time to see all of a place instead of rushing and missing the little things. When I wrote my first ever post on my blog it was about being travellers, not tourists. We prefer independent travel, but sometimes it’s not safe or practical. Then we’ll do a day tour. And in the long run, it’s all about the journey, not how you go about it.

    Liked by 1 person

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