“Be a traveller, not a tourist”, so the saying goes.
Tourist? *sees you cringe*. Let’s be honest, these days no one likes being labelled a tourist. Everyone wants to be known as a traveller, even if they can only count on one hand the number of times they’ve been abroad.
But why? What defines a tourist vs traveller? And why did I name my blog after something so supposedly undesirable?
There are plenty of things I absolutely love about being a tourist, which is why I don’t mind calling myself one. The chance to experience being a tourist is a privilege not afforded to all, so it’s something I’ve personally never taken for granted.
However, I’ve never loved looking like a tourist so I always strive to blend in as best as possible wherever I go. As I always like to say, the thing to remember here is: No one likes an annoying tourist.
I’m about to explain why you shouldn’t get caught up with defining yourself as a tourist or traveller, there’s no need to be one or the other. Read on to find out why!
This article forms part of my top strategies for to how to be a responsible a tourist, detailing effective tips towards ethical tourism to benefit visitors and locals alike.
Differences between Tourist vs Traveller
Generally speaking, there are 7 main stereotypical differences between tourist vs traveller:
You see, with many of us splashing our travel adventures all over social media, truth be told I think travellers have become a bit snobby.
There, I said it.
What do these travellers have against staying in a nice hotel? Why is it mandatory to survive for months with only a backpack containing a small selection of clothing? It’s not cool to take photos in front of landmarks anymore unless you use a selfie stick?
Yes, we all value different things. But what’s to say things “travellers” value are automatically better than what “tourists” do?
The reality is: If we’ve travelled out of our hometown we’ve all been a tourist at some point. Being a visitor in a foreign place does that to a person whether we’d like to admit it or not!
I’m not sure why but many things tourists value are considered negative traits. This is why so many travel bloggers use words like “traveller, wanderer, vagabond” and the like. No one wants to be known as a “tourist”. Except me!
Downsides to being a “traveller”
If some “tourist” traits are considered negative, why not expose the many downsides to being a “traveller” that people just don’t like to talk about? I’ve explained the disadvantages of other traveller stereotypes here that many of us may mumble under our breath but dare not say out loud when we encounter these people during our travels.
After saying all that (and if I haven’t bored you to death), you might be wondering where I fit here and where you fit, too.
Why we shouldn’t mind calling ourselves a “tourist”
If you’ve found my blog maybe you also value the niceties of being a tourist as mentioned in the table above. If we’re going to all the effort to embark on a trip we want the entire experience to be enjoyable without having to skimp on everything, right?
But we also enjoy combining these touristy traits with personalised, authentic experiences that travellers have while digging deep into the history of the attractions we visit to fully appreciate them. What else sets us apart?
- We appreciate eating in nice restaurants on occasion as well as where locals do to give back to small businesses;
- We pride ourselves on having an organised itinerary yet the flexibility of being our own tour guide and exploring at our own pace (whilst meeting locals along the way);
- We avoid using services such as Airbnb as unregulated homestay accommodation has displaced local residents from their own cities;
- We enjoy participating in cultural experiences to keep traditions alive and learn more about the local way of life;
- We take public transport outside of peak hours where possible to get a genuine taste of local life;
- We don’t mind bringing suitcases so we have enough room for a range of clothing options and hand-crafted souvenirs to support local jobs (and if we’re Australian, chances are we will travel to a destination for a few weeks or more at a time because it takes such a long time to get anywhere in the world!);
- We love visiting the touristy sights (they’re famous for a reason!) as well as wandering off the beaten track to dilute our visitor footprints…
Are you ready to break the mould?
Tourist vs Traveller: Travel doesn’t have to be black or white
Therefore, I’m not your stereotypical tourist but an invisible one. I like to blend in with locals but enjoy the privacy of a hotel. Prefer having an organised itinerary but be my own tour guide. Enjoy eating where locals do and getting to know them. And maybe you do as well!
Summing up the Tourist vs Traveller debate: I don’t see why we are forced into being one or the other. As long as you’re travelling in a respectful way, there really shouldn’t a problem.
Travel doesn’t have to be black or white. There are overlaps, this is why I created my blog with the name I did.
So, let’s challenge these stereotypes and create a NEW way to refer to this hybrid explorer – An Invisible Tourist.
Invisible Tourist definition
Do you agree? What gets on your nerves about travel styles? Let me know in the comments below! If you’re an Invisible Tourist too, come and join our community over on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and TikTok. Hope to see you soon!
Until next time,
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