One giant pet peeve I have when it comes to the travel industry and content floating around social media about travel is when people try to distinguish between travellers vs tourists. I have a problem with people who judge other people and the way they travel because I think it just makes you look intolerant and ignorant, so I’m going to come right out and say it:
Traveller vs Tourist is a stupid debate
I had a look at the Dictionary to clarify the definitions of traveller and tourist:
- Traveller: a person who moves from one place to another
- Tourist: a person who travels, often for pleasure
Setting aside the group of people who travel because they have to whether for work or other reasons, anyone who is taking any sort of vacation is travelling for pleasure, and thus is considered a tourist. If someone tries to deny that they are a tourist because their style of travel is somehow better and more meaningful for [REASONS], I would consider finding someone less uppity to talk to because who knows what else this person might want to split hairs about in conversation.
I am well aware that even as I argue that there shouldn’t be a distinction, this very blog is called The Occasional Traveller and not The Occasional Tourist. Traveller conjures up romantic notions of meaningful travel, local immersion, authentic experiences, while Tourist brings to mind overcrowded attractions, people who follow the pack, surface-level interactions. My background is in communications, I knew what I wanted to say about my own travel style.
So I did a little bit more googling, but it turns out that according to the Internet, everyone hates you no matter what you call yourself, so how’s that for equality.
There is no right way to travel
I firmly believe that you should travel in whatever way feels most comfortable to you, no matter if people don’t consider it ‘real travel’. Travel to me is about forging your own journey, and we all have different things we want out of it. You don’t have to force yourself to backpack or hitchhike on your own for some so-called ‘authentic’ experience if you don’t enjoy it. If you rather take selfies than photos of a mountain for your trip memories, go right ahead. Stick with your friends and family when you travel if you prefer – solo travel isn’t the only way to travel.
Typical touristy things are not necessarily bad, and if they fit what you enjoy, then go ahead and indulge yourself – having a fixed schedule is convenient and following a guidebook makes you a more efficient traveller. Staying in hotels can mean you relax more without worrying about imposing on someone else’s goodwill. Tick off 10 countries in a 2-week journey if you rather see variety than stay in one fixed place because someone said that was the proper way to travel.
The most important thing here is you do you, and be unapologetic about it. As long as it’s not illegal or harmful in anyway, I don’t see why anyone has the right to take issue with your travel style.
So go forth and plan that next trip, ignore any naysayers and find your own travel path, traipse to the beat of your own drum. Happy travels to you!