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Big Difference Between Traveler and Tourist

a man standing next to a body of water

Are you a traveler or a tourist? Both want to travel the world, both want to witness the wonders, but each differ in the lens they look for and capture the beauty that is of the world.

The terms ‘tourist’ and ‘traveler’ can be used interchangeably, they are synonyms for that matter. But for some members of the travel community, there is a clear distinction between the two. One is not necessarily of greater importance over the other, but it would be fun to know under which classification do you belong. Considering which kind are you can help you get the most out of each trip.

What exactly are the differences of a traveler and a tourist? Is there even a difference in the first place?


Squander vs. Wander

Tourists go on trips in the quest of experiencing and learning new things. Everything about their tour is arranged in an itinerary to be strictly followed to make the most out of everyday.

Travelers don’t really follow any plan; they want to get lost in unfamiliar streets. They discover new restaurants, new landmarks and new places not basing from other’s experiences. They create their own path.

Dreaming about home vs. Finding a home in a foreign land

At the end of the day, tourists know where they truly belong, like they say, home is where the heart is. They know for a fact that the trip will end, and soon, they can sleep on their own beds and use their own toilet. They can also get homesick at times.

Travelers feel at home wherever they may set foot on, or wherever they rest their head. Cliché as it may sound, but the whole world is their home. travelers know that home isn’t a static place.

Comfort vs. Experience

Tourists prefer checking in at cozy hotels, while travelers crash in wherever they can and wherever they’re allowed too. They believe that instead of using some cash on a nice hotel, they can just use it as an additional budget for more travel.

Luggage and Maps vs. Backpacks and instinct

Most tourists won’t dare go on a trip which they didn’t read about, or bring a map with. They prefer following schedules, to the point that each activity is timed and limited just to make sure everything is according to plan.

The aim of the travelers is to get lost so that they can experience more and more. They don’t need maps of gps devices, they will find a way to just continue travelling, they let their feet surprise them.

Tourists take pictures non-stop; travelers take memories with their eyes

Tourists often take for granted the beauty of the place just to snap that perfect Instagram post. There’s nothing wrong with taking pictures—it’s a way of preserving memory, but some spend most of their time trying to find the perfect angle or lighting, that they forget about the beauty right before their eyes.

Be a Better Tourist

Being a tourist is perfectly okay. If you’re piece of the cake is being comfortable and you can afford it, why not spoil yourself. After all, vacationing and travelling should be relaxing and enjoyable. Don’t force yourself in doing things that you know you won’t enjoy just because others think it’s the better way of travelling.

If you’re the kind of person who collects photographs of your trips—go ahead and take your sweet time in capturing each picture. Book for the coziest rooms in town. Plan every day of your trip. Making sure you get the most out of your free day is perfectly fine, and never let anyone make you feel otherwise.

Be a Better Traveler

If you consider yourself a traveler, you’re likely already surrounding yourself with locals and opening yourself to experience as much as you can, whether some may be out of your comfort zone. You are game to try new things, eat unusual delicacies and walk the roads less traveled.

Improve your trip by getting more involved with the locals and learn from them as much as you could. Ask for stories about their history and culture. At the end of the day, it’s not only the experience that you gain, but also a new friend.