Tourist or Traveler?
We both serve them the BEST!
You may use the words "tourist" and "traveler" interchangeably, but to some people in the travel community, these titles have different implications. It's not necessary to commit to one title or another; however, you can choose to be more of a tourist on one day of your vacation, then be a traveler on the next. Considering the way you define yourself while traveling can help you get the most out of each trip.
It's usually easy for locals to spot a tourist among them. A tourist may carry a camera, guidebook and map at all times and wear the same clothing he'd wear at home. Tourists tend to stay in their comfort zones a bit; they may speak only English instead of trying to learn phrases in the local language; stick to major cities instead of venturing to smaller towns or off-the-beaten-path locales; and stay in areas where the amenities are similar to what they have at home.
Generally speaking, someone who considers himself a traveler will try to immerse himself in the local culture rather than standing out. If you're a traveler, you may try to explore the less-traveled areas and explore locations where tourism doesn't drive the economy. You'll interact with locals. Your goals for a trip will be to learn and experience new things, rather than to take a relaxing break from everyday life. A traveler may consider a trip a journey rather than a vacation.
Being a Better Tourist
Being a tourist is perfectly okay. If you're most comfortable around other tourists and want to document every sight with your camera, go ahead, but you may find that making a bit of an effort to blend in will earn you some respect from locals. Leave your white sneakers -- the tell-tale sign of the American tourist -- at home and research the way locals dress, then pack accordingly. Don't let your guidebook dictate your schedule; find some English-speaking locals and ask them for advice on what sights you should see. You may discover a new favorite spot you'd never find in a book. Walk the area on foot or travel by the local transportation to experience the place as the locals do instead of taking guided tours or tour buses.
Being a Better Traveler
If you consider yourself a traveler, you're likely already surrounding yourself with locals. Improve your trip by getting more involved with them. Find a spot in town where everyone seems to gather, like a town square or popular restaurant, and spend the day there. Strike up conversations with people of all ages. Ask questions about the local culture and talk about common interests; at the very least, you'll leave with a broadened worldview. Don't turn your nose up at tourists, and don't avoid popular attractions simply because they're packed with foreigners. Yes, the Eiffel Tower will be surrounded by tourists -- but you should still see it too
“The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.” ― G.K. Chesterton
“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.” – Paul Theroux
Updated as of November 2019