Sunday, June 12, 2011

Tourist or Traveler

Tourist and traveler.

Same species, despite pretentious protests to the contrary.

From Merriam-Webster:

  • A tourist is one who makes a tour for pleasure or culture. 
  • A traveler is one that travels, as one who goes on a trip or journey. 

Based on the above definitions, one could argue that the tourist has the higher calling, as s/he seeks pleasure or culture from a trip, while the traveler simply moves his or her carcass from point A to point Z in some fashion. 

Nevertheless, there are self-proclaimed "travelers" who would have us believe there are proper ways to experience pleasure and culture, and "tourists" can't meet those criteria.

Often, these are the same individuals who advise visitors to the U.S. to fly from one coast to the other because there is "nothing" "worth" seeing in between.

These are the same folks who seek the "real" Mexico or Thailand or Tanzania or [fill in the blank], who hunt up the small, "authentic" villages and street foods, and the "real" people, who take the cheap buses, yet disdain all of those very same things in the U.S. as being uninteresting and not worth the trouble, instead directing visitors to a tiny selection of American destinations they deem "worth" seeing.

I find it disheartening when tourists disrespect others because they enjoy different ways of seeing the world. This seems the antithesis of the tolerance one supposedly accrues through travel.

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