Updated: Feb 25, 2021
"The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see."
- G.K. Chesterton
Living in one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and working in the tourist industry for the last 10+ years you get to recognize the difference between a tourist and a traveler. Because each person has their own idea of how a vacation should be spent, one is not better than the other. There are so many reasons why vacations are important, but the most common factor is to get away from the daily routine and recharge the batteries.
For many people travel is their passion. They want to experience and learn about another's culture, food, and way of life as well as soak in the beauty of the land. For others a vacation is staying at a large, all-inclusive resort, drinking the pool's amount in alcohol, eating at the buffet every night, and being entertained within the confines of their resort.
I was curious as to what other people thought the difference is between a tourist and a traveler, so I did a survey in the local expat group on Facebook. Here are some of the answers I got:
"A traveler knows that there is always something to learn from anything or anyone that you come across with.
A traveler goes places to understand the world and his own country.
A traveler doesn't want to change ANYTHING about the place he visits.
A traveler knows that you don't have to go too far or too long to have an amazing experience.
A traveler doesn't need Instagram or Facebook to record memories.
A traveler is aware of his limitations and fears, and still, gives the steps required to get out of his comfort zone. A traveller is considerate to that and those around him. A traveler never claims to know a place or a situation just because he visited 3 days.
A traveler doesn't count countries.
A traveler counts the moments that made him smile, cry, mad or in awe. A traveler is always grateful, despite it all." Bianca Yogui Cancun
"A traveler visits a place and feels as if they have been invited into someone's home. A tourist visits a place and feels as if they are at the zoo." Law Casey
"Tourists are about getting served and waited on and have expectation. Travelers are about learning and growth from seeing places, meeting different people & having experiences. I've met many people in Playa who have travelled the world but from the vantage point as being consummate tourists. They have no desire to learn the language except for things like food & hotel vocabulary. Learning customs & culture are not genuinely cared for and there is often a level of entitlement that goes along with them because they are primarily about being served and treated. Which is in opposition to those with the traveler's mindset which is focused on growth & the expansion of learning from people, places and things that are foreign to them." Joe Lavery
"Travelers experience and want to learn new things whereas tourists want to be entertained."
"Travelers think there better, tourists don't know better." Marc Stanton
"Absorption vs immersion." Stacey Schafer
"Tourists stop out of nowhere on sidewalks. Travelers think they're too cool for sidewalks." Patty Castaneda
"You can tell who the travelers are by the way the comment. A traveler doesn't think they are a tourist because it's not cool. They usually don't have enough to do nice touristy things. They may take a bus to Tulum and stay at a hostel. A tourist will take a cab and stay on the beach. A traveler would do the same but don't have the cash. A traveler thinks they are too cool to be a tourist, and the traveler will try to find things off the beaten path, like a restaurant on 10th ave instead of 5th. haha" Michael Dowd
"Traveler looks for new places and new experiences. Tourist looks for new places same experiences." Walt Oneill
"A tourist is interested in experiencing standard tourist stuff, the familiar. A traveler seeks to explore new horizons, in all respects." Adel Mosly
"Yeah I agree...the “traveler” is more adventurous and wants to travel around and see and experience things like the local culture, food, traditions, etc. A “tourist” comes and does all-inclusives, group tours, St Frogs (LOL) the basic touristy stuff...and buys souvenirs etc. And usually the “tourist” does a 4-day trip Sun-Tues or Mon-Thurs —- typical long weekend trip bc can’t get off work longer etc. A traveler takes more time off to see and experience."
"Tourist go on cruises and enjoy being “on a rail” of being told what to see and where to go. Travelers want to experience the culture immersion of the destination they are visiting."
"A tourist doesn't want to bother with the local culture, a traveler wants to be a part of it. Tourists have walls, like the resorts at which they stay." Stacia Deering
"A tourist wants to see the trappings of their own culture but in a pretty new place. A traveler wants to leave their own culture behind and, instead, experience the one that they’re visiting - and not just the pretty parts." James R. Spring
"Well, I think a tourist is a traveler with more $ than common sense." Duane English
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What is your opinion? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!