People tend to use the words “tourist” and “traveller” interchangeably and understandably so. Both terms involve travel. So what’s the big deal? Well, there actually is a difference. There might be a fine line between the two… but there is a difference.
Deciphering the difference between those two words is almost like how people use the words “leader” and “manager” interchangeably. Both titles involve working with people but a good way to understand the difference between the two is that a leader coaches, whereas a manager directs.
In the world of travel, whether you identify more as a traveller or a tourist, one title is not necessarily better than the other by any means but sometimes defining yourself during your travels can help you truly enjoy and get the most out of your trip wherever you’re going.
Huffington Post goes deeper into explaining the signs of how to tell whether you’re a traveller or tourist.
Tourist and Traveller Explained
Tourists typically stick out like a sore thumb among locals. To better explain it, tourists are the basics of travel. Some characteristics of a traveller include:
- They’re constantly carrying a camera and taking pictures of EVERYTHING!
- They also carry some kind of map or guide book.
- Typically travel to the bigger, more well-known cities.
Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of these characteristics, it’s just those characteristics are what separates the two titles. Tourists also tend to stick to their comfort zones, meaning they pick locations that have restaurants, stores, and other amenities that are similar to what they have at home.
Tourist Scenario: Las Vegas
Let’s say a tourist is long overdue for a vacation (vacation is the term tourists use) and they decide to go to Las Vegas. Can you guess where a tourist will go? Directly to The Strip! A tourist is going to want to do EVERYTHING on The Strip.
If you’re a tourist, you’re going to be looking for all the free day parties, see all the shows, and try to strike it rich at every casino… which is fine and great! The thing about Las Vegas is that people tend to get blinded by the bright lights of the city and forget about all the other attractions and natural wonders outside of The Strip.
A traveller is the complete and polar opposite of a tourist. A traveller is someone who uses travel as a lifestyle. It’s very common for travellers to have travel blogs and vlogs. Travellers tend to get out of their comfort zones and want to be completely immersed in the local culture of where they’re traveling to. Not to mention, travellers are going to take the road less traveled instead of going to the bigger, more popular cities.
The traveller will want to dine at non-chain establishments… some of those establishments have been called “hole in the wall” spots and it’s these spots that are where the locals eat. To be simply put, a traveller goes on trips to learn and for the overall experience; a tourist typically goes on a trip for relaxation or “a break” away from the rigors of everyday life.
Traveller Scenario: Las Vegas
Let’s say a traveller is long overdue for a journey (journey is the term travellers use) and they decide to go to Las Vegas. Can you guess where a traveller will go? Directly away from The Strip! A traveller is going to want to do everything AWAY from The Strip.
As mentioned earlier, the traveller will want to take the road less travelled by exploring the parts of the city no one really talks about except for maybe the locals… and you know how travellers love the locals!
If you’re an outdoorsy traveller then you will love visiting Red Rock Canyon and Mount Charleston… these two locations will definitely get you away from the hustle and bustle of The Strip! If you’re more of a foodie but live a life of “eating to live” rather than “living to eat” (like the Vegas buffets promote), a traveller would really enjoy a different type of dining experience at The Black Sheep or Chinatown.
If You Identify As a Tourist…
Again, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with identifying as a tourist but maybe, to not seem so stereotypical, there are some adjustments or improvements (if you will) that you can make to have a more memorable and enjoyable vacation.
Improvement: Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
Getting out of your comfort zone is what will truly take your trips to another level. All you have to do is interact a little bit more with the locals and see how much you learn!
If You Identify As a Traveller…
If you identify as a traveller, then you’re already interacting with the locals, but there is one improvement you can work on.
Improvement: Work on Your Avoidance
Working on your avoidance means not turning your nose up at tourists and avoiding the tourist attractions. Now, not all travellers need to do this but for those who do, just remember that just because a particular destination or attraction is filled with tourists, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit or see it. Don’t be a travel snob!