Have you ever asked yourself this question “Am I a traveler or a tourist”?
I mean at some point, you must have.
There are two identities of a person who travels for leisure: a tourist and a traveler. Let’s start with the tourist. A tourist is probably someone who goes to a destination, often a touristic destination. One that we all can imagine, with a camera hanging on the neck and wearing a T-shirt that screams I love New York! They usually come in abundance, roaring and enthusiastic. They follow an itinerary that has been pre-packaged for them. So, it is often that they do not have the time to truly explore a place - “Off we go to the Eiffel Tower, we have an hour here so make sure you grab one of those iconic Eiffel Tower keychains. Then, we will go to the Louvre Pyramid, we have an hour there! So be camera-ready, guys! Cuz we will stop by the Arc de Triomphe and you have two hours for shopping”! Does this sound familiar to you? If it does not, I’d suggest you take a Paris tour package and you will see what I mean.
Well, there is nothing wrong with that. Don’t get me wrong. I was once a tourist. Following a tour is pretty easy, I pay a sum and I get everything I want to see. It is convenient and I don’t have to plan anything. But it gets tiring, following a group of strangers that I have nothing in common, and everything is cut short! I have only an hour at the Louvre?! All my pictures gotta look perfect then! But, I have read so much about the Louvre and I want to explore every inch of it. To be honest, it was up to that point, I don’t want to be a tourist anymore. I want more!
I mean, don’t we all want more than that?
Here is a new pitch – a traveler. Wait, let me add in - an avid traveler.
Now, how does that sound? It sounds pretty adventurous, isn't it?
Basically, a traveler is a person who often travels. In other words, a traveler is a person who has experience in travelling. That’s a cookie point, I’d say! A traveler is also a person who holds New Age values and leads an unconventional lifestyle. I don’t know about you, but it sounds like a dream to me. Of course, this requires a change in certain ways of travelling. For instance, a tour package is off the hook. Which means, no more following a group of people and I get to decide what I want to see and how much time I get to spend at a destination. The best of all, I create my itinerary. I choose my adventure.
In my journey of being a traveler, my most precious experience is all the off the beaten tracks that I have taken and explored. If I’d have just taken packaged tours, I would have never come across unique places. Places that tourists are not aware of. It is these hidden gems that fuel my soul. Exploring the unusual, connecting to a place, its culture and people are what I need. Meeting with locals and hearing their stories change my perspectives in so many ways. I am more conscious of the history and culture of a place. The best thing is, planning my itinerary had led me to meet some of the most wonderful people around the world. They are travelers, just like me and we share something in common! A thirst in adventure and always explore beyond. I wouldn’t have it another way.
So, which one are you?