Are you a traveler or a tourist?

When you travel you meet all kinds of people – from backpackers and tourists, to locals, expats, beggars and other travelers. Before I started taking long trips I already saw myself as a traveler, I visited many places and saw many popular sights, even though I wasn’t always in those places for a long time. I believe that these experiences made me a traveler.

Bucketlist (3)

I’ve heard many stories from fellow travelers that believe they are true travelers because they have been away from home for a long time and experienced many things at a lot of destinations. They call anyone who does normal two to three week holidays and citytrips tourists. They mainly think tourists are ignorant, and never really get the true potential out of their trip, because they follow guide books, and recommendations from others. They also say that tourists don’t go off the path laid out for them, and often aren’t very adventurous.  I’ve had the discussion with them many times, but I guess we can say that travellers are also stubborn and ignorant when it comes to this subject!

The website Land of Travel shows us more about this ongoing discussion in the travel world. However, I think that they mainly show the traveler side of thinking, and not that of the tourist, since they come out at the end as the negatives.


Travel was meant to be something exciting, you explore a new country, experience a new culture and meet new people. Which in return will change your perspective on this destination, either positive or negative.

Land of Travel shows us that tourists are all very oblivious, ignorant and rude people that just travel to become tanned and see the major sights. Travelers on the other hand according to them are blissful people that look for experiences in different cultures and only try to fit in. The conclusion is that to be a good ‘traveler’ we leave all of our stereotypes at home. When we go traveling, we all have to become this new person, we cannot be ourselves, we have to change to fit into this image of a ‘traveler’.

But we are all unique, and with uniqueness come differences, we don’t all like the same things. Some people rather stay in a five star hotel and lie by the pool all day, where others like to go camping and hike through the mountains. And not everyone has time to go away from home for months at a time, and not everyone wants to. If we weren’t all this unique, it wouldn’t even be an adventure anymore to go to these other destinations. Since everyone would be the same right? So, why try so damn hard to become something we are not? Just to become this perfect traveller. Because if that’s what it is all about, I would rather stay at home and be myself.

In my opinion we are all tourists and all travelers. We are all experiencing a new destination, and even though our own preferences take us on other paths, we all have that same feeling that a new adventure gives us. Traveling is something for everyone, it doesn’t matter who you are and where you come from. As long as you want to travel, you should be able to do this!

Don’t forget, we are all unique, and there is no right way to travel, you just have to go out there and do it!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject in the comments!

10 Responses

  1. speakingaloud2u
    | Reply

    Truly, it is very important to respect the aesthetics and culture of the location one is visiting! In that way only one can become a true traveler….

  2. Travel Pockets (Crystal)
    | Reply

    I would say I’m both. Sometimes I want to be just a tourist and other times, I’m ready to be a traveler! I ALWAYS respect the culture of wherever I’m visiting.

  3. muckoul
    | Reply

    I never cared for labels, but I think the keyword here is to explore.
    Never stop yourself, respect others, keep a smile, talk with others, be happy. Don’t fear being alone. I’m glad we are like minded people in this community 🙂

  4. Jessica Ayun
    | Reply

    I would be honest that even if i wanted to categorise myself as a traveler (just like most us want), there are just really some moments that the tourist soul is inevitable. We are all tourists every time we step in a foreign land and we learn to be travelers as we keep the exploration. 🙂

  5. Amélie
    | Reply

    I personally think we are always a tourist when we are not in our own town/country. It’s just important to have the values and curiosities of what is called a traveler on this list. 🙂

  6. Cynthia
    | Reply

    This is really true. I don’t like all the distinctions people have made between tourists and travellers. I mean, I like my gift shop souvenirs too…

  7. Little Traveler's Notebook
    | Reply

    I’ve certainly journeyed as both, but I strive to always be respectful of customs and norms. I disagree that the designation of being a traveller is based on time spent in a location. I’ve known a few people who have stayed several weeks or months in a place without truly leaving their comfort zone or getting acquainted with the culture.

  8. I couldn’t agree more! The traveler vs tourist debate irritates me, because it suggests one is better than the other. I do agree that the traveling mindset matters more than the number of destinations visited, but I feel like plenty of people start to feel superior because they are “real” travelers. It annoys me to no end. Glad to see I’m not the only one!

  9. allthingslizzie
    | Reply

    Really well written post, well done. I hate the debate too, I find that it’s just one way of a group of people to look down on another group of people, but hey ho. Looking forward to reading more from you!

  10. 2travellingsisters
    | Reply

    Loved reading your post. We totally agree with you, the whole issue is so annoying. Doesn’t matter if you are a traveler or a tourist, it all comes down to us enjoying every moment of our journey and making great memories 🙂

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