Why I became a “traveler” instead of a “tourist”!

by Aug 15, 2014English, Travel

“Tourist”: a word that has many connotations: “a person who travels for pleasure, usually sightseeing and staying in hotels” or “a person on an excursion or sightseeing tour”.** As I travel, I do so in contrast to tourism and would instead describe myself a ‘traveler’.

I try to avoid tourists. In fact, I even avoid staying in the same accommodation as them. For this reason I choose to stay in apartments and not in hotels and especially hostels. We are not there for the same purpose. A tourist is there to be brought on a tour while a traveler will create a tour where none existed. Thus, tourists follow a well-worn path while travelers will avoid it and pave a new one.

For example, below is a map of a recent trip through Romania, Moldova and Ukraine where tourists fear to tread. The trip was a fantastic adventure, filled with genuinely local experiences. While tourists seek out other tourists, travelers seek new experiences with locals.

Map Trip Ukraine Moldova Romania
tourists Athens

Tourists crowding around the Parthenon in Athens, Greece*

Athens view parthenon

How I viewed the Parthenon thanks to a local friend

So why ‘traveler’ over ‘tourist’?

The following infographic sums up for me the differences between the two and why ‘traveling’ is more rewarding than ‘tourism’:

Traveler Benefits slide
Comparison of Traveler vs Tourist
Moldovan girls

Hanging with local friends in Chisinau, Moldova while learning Russian and Romanian

So do you feel that you are a ‘tourist’ or a ‘traveler’? Please let me know your thoughts about the advantages and disadvantages of ‘tourism’ and ‘traveling’ below in the comments.

*Photo courtesy of: Adam Carr, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Parthenon.Tourists.jpg
**Source: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/tourist

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