Tourist vs Traveler

Defining the difference between a tourist and traveler is an important aspect of my job.  Tourists engage in the normal regional activities.  Travelers take it a step further, seeking to experience the destination in a more unique or authentic way.


An easy way to differentiate between a tourist and a traveler is to delve into their motivation.  Is it to relax, to escape from their stressful work environments, just to get away?  Or is it to see and do something that will have a more profound impact on their lives, leaving them forever changed? 

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a tourist.  Sometimes life requires us to spend our vacation days kicked back and relaxing.  Perhaps rejuvenating a romance, or re-connecting with our parents, children or grand-children.  A day at the spa, an afternoon in the souvenir shops, these can be very rewarding experiences.  

Many destinations demand checking off the top spots, for instance the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Colosseum in Rome.  If I were going to China the Great Wall would be at the top of my “to do” list, and it would definitely be a typical tourist experience.

Tourists arrive at beach destinations and spend their vacation days relaxing on the shore, in the pool, at the spa.  Most times they never leave the resort.  Many of our customers are tourists.

Then there are the travelers.  This group varies from people seeking more culturally significant destination experiences to those who are truly thrill seekers.  

Culturally significant travel can include countless activities and experiences.  Would you enjoy a wine appreciation tour of France?  Are you a WWII buff?  What about a visit to the landing beaches at Normandy?    Did you know you can combine those two into one great adventure?

Would you enjoy a culinary tour of Italy?  Are you Irish?  What about a quest to discover your Irish roots?  Are you a Christian?  What about a trip to the Holy Land, or Catholic Europe Discovery, or re-tracing the Reformation? 

If this type of travel appeals to you, you should call yourself a traveler.

Moderate thrill seekers, or what we call our “active” travelers, love bike tours of Budapest, Flamenco lessons in Madrid, or snorkeling on the Palancar Reef.   

Doug and I are what I’d call active travelers.  We’ve climbed the Leaning Tower of Pisa, as well as Blarney Castle and countless other stairways.  In fact, if it can be climbed, Doug and I feel compelled to climb it.  

Thrill seekers have a huge variety of opportunities as well.  Who wants to go cage diving with great white sharks off of the tip of Southern Africa?  Speaking of Africa, what about a wildlife safari?  Bungee jumping, sky diving, hiking to Machu Picchu, all of these require more exertion but are available if you have the time and energy.

There are so many travel options out there for both tourists and travelers it’s mind boggling.  All inclusive?  A motor coach tour?  A river or an ocean cruise?  A self-drive tour? What style of travel will best deliver your desired experience?

Whether you are a tourist or a traveler, or a charming combination of both, there’s a huge world waiting out there for you to investigate.  Time is limited for all of us.  I encourage you to spend as much of your allotted time on this earth seeing as much of it as possible.

Your Globetrotting Friend-Joy Gawf-Crutchfield.