Traveler Vs. Tourist

In my opinion there are two different types of people who travel, there are travelers and there are tourists. Some people enjoy being one more than the other. In my experience usually when more than two people travel together at a time its always a group of tourists. Now if you meet people during your travels and you gather together for a short period of your overall trip then you can travel together. This is because you are all coming together from different parts of the world, or even different parts of the country, with the same interest in one particular location. However, once this side trip is complete you all can go your own separate ways. I find this is one of the best ways to make friends while travelling abroad and necessary for your own personal sanity. Just because you go somewhere alone does not mean that you are going to be all alone. If anything you are going to meet more people and have to network in order to figure out where you are going.

Now I guess would be a good time to explain why I put such a distinction between the words traveler and tourist.  Now this isn’t an all or nothing definition. It’s more my opinion on the matter. I believe people have moments of being both. However, I try to tend towards the traveler perspective. I’m sure I will get more into this as I go through more articles. Basically a traveler is someone who wants to immerse themselves into a local environment and blend in as best as they can. Therefore, they can meet as many locals as possible and learn as much about the culture and habitat as they can. Versus, a tourist of whom will go to a location in order to have the most lavish experience as possible and wants brief tours of each location.

This is Me

This person will probably stay with a large group that they came with and will meet a very limited number of locals. Another good example of tourist is someone who comes with only one intention. These intentions are often things like to go clubbing in as many locations as possible, or to sit on the beach for a whole week, possibly even just go to as many locations as humanly possible in one set amount of time. These are just some examples and often people go between the two.


Sometimes we all travel as a tourist or a traveler. I think it’s just important to be aware of which you are trying to be. When I go to Ocean City, MD I know that I am going mainly as a tourist in order to drink fruity drinks and lounge on the beach. Maybe get a bike ride in or take a surfing lesson. However, when I traveled to the UK I bought a plane ticket into London and out of Dublin, Ireland. I researched what was in between (I love Rick Steves) and then when I was there I talked to locals about where I should go. I even asked them which tours were the best. Some locals even go on the tours for something to do. On my trip I was often asked if I was a local.


Once I opened my mouth to respond I’m fairly certain my American accent gave me away. I always take it as a compliment and a good sign that I’m blending in. Basically I’m just trying to explain a concept that I believe is important when deciding what perspective you’ll have on a particular trip. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Please comment with how you disagree or agree. Or if you have a totally different way of seeing travelers and tourists.



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