You ain’t a Tourist; I ain’t a Traveler


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This is not uncommon for us to find articles, blogs, quotes and pictures on the internet which make a comparison between a traveller and a tourist. There is no complication in defining the two words in different ways if they want. The origin of the word “Travel” is most likely lost to history, so all the definitions circulating today are mostly based on different perceptions. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the word comes from middle English word “Travelen” , which means to torment, labour, strive or journey and the earlier from an ancient French word “Travailler”, which means to work strenuously or toil.

Also, as per Oxford Dictionary, the word “travel” means “To make a journey, typically of some length”; word “Traveller” is defined as “A person who is travelling or who often travels”; and the word “Tourist” means “A person who is travelling or visiting a place for pleasure”. Based on their definitions alone, the two words “Traveller” and “Tourist” are pretty much the same. The only difference can be attributed to the frequency or the purpose of travel. But, the meaning of both these similar words have been modified quite effectively over the years majorly owing to the way these have been used and shared on the internet between the users.

In a gist, the contrast that I established based on the new definitions passing rounds on web was that Tourists love to travel with everything planned well in advance, be it destination, routes, mode of transport, stays, expenditure, food, people accompanying them on their tours and everything which they feel is needed. Whereas, Travellers are the ones who take off for unknown destinations (pre-dominantly alone) based on their instincts without much of a plan and see things as they come across to them. Those are the definitions I believe to be fair to quite an extent in today’s scenario.

I am listing a few quotes from some renowned people, which can regularly be spotted on the social media networks.

“Please be a traveller not a tourist. Try new things, meet new people and look beyond what is right in front of you. Those are the keys to understand this amazing world.” –Andrew Zimmern 

“Tourists don’t know where they have been; Travellers don’t know where they are going.” –Thomas Theroux

“The traveller sees what he sees; the tourist sees what he has come to see.” –G.K. Chesterton

“A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”- Lao Tzu


A post on the internet I came across also said:

“A tourist observes, sticks out, complains and is oblivious; while a traveller experiences, blends in, is curious and sensitive.”

You ain’t a Tourist; I ain’t a Traveler

You ain’t a Tourist; I ain’t a Traveler

There are endless quotes and pictures out there to promote travelling, which in almost all cases is someone’s personal opinion and which is great to have too. The not so great side is the way people have perceived it through these quotes and comparisons and how this difference is being portrayed all over the internet belittling the ones who plan their journeys in advance, The Tourists. Undoubtedly, planned travel can give you an equal amount of experiences and pleasure as an unplanned travel could, given you do the things the way you like them.

While travelling across India myself, I was all alone initially and I also did not plan my travel when I first left. But, there were months or days in between when I travelled with friends and family with the whole itinerary planned and ready. It pretty much kept on happening on and off during the whole year of my travel. That made me a traveller for a few months and a tourist for the others. I did not find anything inappropriate or undesirable in planning my trips once in a while. It is true that it takes a lot of time and efforts to plan (which has it’s own fun) and accomplish a trip that suits your taste. It is all worth it if it makes your trip as delightful, pleasurable and exciting at the end as you want it to be.

It’s irrational in my personal view to demean any of the two ways of travelling when in the end all that matter is the movement and experience we get out of it. Having the same idea, which is to see the world, I believe everybody has both a traveller and a tourist in them. If the new definitions are to be believed, I guess we need both of them while we move; it all depends on how you want to travel and who you want to be in that particular moment. The world is huge. Let us try both ways of seeing it.

                                                                                                                                                                        -Anant Gyan Singh

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