When we travel, we meet all sorts of people with all sorts of plans; it’s a huge part of the fun of being on the road. We meet people who have been travelling for weeks, for years, for life, but we also meet people who have only been travelling for a few days. We meet people who have everything mapped out, every single hotel booked, and we meet people who have absolutely no idea what they’ll be doing tomorrow, let alone next week. We meet people who spend months volunteering in Nepal and people who spend a few weeks partying in Cancun.
And you know what? In my mind, we’re all travellers.
I have never liked the tourist vs traveller separation, as I believe that we are all both at different times in our travels. Sometimes I’m part of the throngs of people swarming around an attraction, be it the Pyramids at Giza or Tikal in Guatemala. Sometimes I’m alone in Mongolia, sleeping in a ger and stoking my own fire to be warm. I’m a traveller, I’m a tourist, I’m both.
One thing that travel has truly taught me is to never judge anybody by where they’re from, where they’re going, or what they’re doing. There’s no reason for me, or for any of us, to judge someone – everyone has different priorities and different expectations when they travel. If someone chooses to not talk to any local people or try any local cuisine, so be it. It’s not my trip, it’s not my place to comment on his or her choices. I have had many people admire the way I travel, but I’ve also had people criticise the way I travel, insinuating that I am not a “real” or “true” traveller because I didn’t go to X or I didn’t stay for Y amount of days. On this trip, for example, I met someone who accused me of travelling too quickly, accused me of not actually soaking up any of the local culture – was it her place to accuse me of this? Absolutely not. I have a certain budget and a certain time limit and I will do what I can with it. I chose to spend only 10 days in Costa Rica and 10 days in Panama, but I also chose to spend a month in Guatemala and Colombia, and three weeks in Honduras and Nicaragua. To each their own, I say. To each their own.
And so, I come to my thesis, my view of life on the road: all travel is travel. Whether it is a week of mayhem in Ibiza or a year of life-changing experiences in India, at the end of the day, it is travel. It is a person buying a ticket to somewhere different, a person choosing to leave the comfort of home, a person longing for something new. It can be fun and relaxing, it can be challenging and educational, it can be all of these things or none of these things, but it is the choice of the traveller. As long as the traveller is respectful toward the local culture and is as conscientious as possible (morally, environmentally, and politically), I don’t see why anyone should judge another on how they choose to travel.
Whenever I meet a judgemental traveller, I find myself shutting down, I find myself slowly backing away from the conversation. When it comes down to it, we’re all on the road together; let’s support each other and learn from each other, no matter where we’ve been or what we choose to do. All travel is travel.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree?
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This is very refreshing and I agree. It is all too easy to judge someone else’s travel priorities. Although as a lover of local cuisine it hurts to think of someone missing out by ‘eating safe’, I’m sure someone could fault me for not indulging in shopping while traveling. Travel is travel, and let’s support travellers!
Agree! For example, I am generally a weekend-traveller, if I can say that. For nearby cities, staying one or two nights, doing a lot of different things, spending just a few money. I love the fact this is getting more frequent and… “at the end of the day, it is travel.”
I definitely agree. I’ve always hated the “I’m a traveler, not a tourist” saying, but could never truly explain why as eloquently as you did. This quote hits it on the head though.
“It can be fun and relaxing, it can be challenging and educational, it can be all of these things or none of these things, but it is the choice of the traveller.”
Just because you decided to backpack staying in hostels doesn’t make you anymore of a traveler then someone who like all inclusive. Will you get different things out of your journey? Yea. Will the backpacker who talks, eats, and interacts with the locals connect and understand the country more? Probably. If you stay in a country longer will you get a better feel for it? yes. Does that make you a better traveler if you do these thing? No.
To be a traveler is to travel, as long as you do that, you fit the requirement.
People travel for different reasons, and just because you want to experience it one way, doesn’t make you “more of a traveler”
I will not lie though, I hold a huge amount of respect for and think incredible things about people who use their travel experiences to broaden their minds and experience everything to the fullest. The type of traveler who will go to the slums of India while also going to the taj mahal. The ones who deeply want to understand a country, and truly dig. BUT I understand why some don’t. With American and other countries only getting 2 weeks of Vacation time, I can understand wanting to completely and totally relax in that time. Some don’t have the monetary resources to spend months at a time in countries. Some just dont want to! Traveling can be a tedious and tiring business.
In the end, if you respect whichever country you’re in , you get kuddos from me.
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AGREE!!!!!!!!!! Awesome post!
I completely agree!!! I have stayed in hostels, hotels, stayed in one week all inclusive resort, traveled for 1 month, had a long weekend trip…it’s all travel at the end of the day! Just different styles.
Very well written. I used to struggle with the difference but the fact is we all have different interests and ways of measuring travel or even vacation time.
I too like to think of myself as both. I tend not to prefer the resorts but I am giving one another shot this December because that’s all I have time for. But it is hard for me not to go out and see the local culture and food. It is not because I am “rebelling” but more because I am trying to shape the trip to suit my interests. Some people enjoy lazing on the beach all day and I can’t blame them.
To each there own for certainly!
The Wanderfull Traveler
i completely agree, and this was just something I was saying to a group of people yesterday! Great post!
(Oh. And I only had 3 days of mayhem on Ibiza, and that was plenty.) 😉
Sforsaraho – Thank you! I love trying all the local cuisine as well, but perhaps some people have no interest in that. Cheers for your comment!
Raph_el – Absolutely! I love taking weekend trips, too.
Liveletlive – Thank you for your beautiful comment! I agree with everything you say, and I really appreciate you taking the time to write it all out for all of us to read. I especially love your last line, and I hope all travellers feel the same way!
Rachel – Thank you! I’m checking it out now…
Andi – Thank you!
Christine – Agreed! I think that trying out all different styles of travel is essential. It makes it all that much more exciting!
Murissa – Thank you for your comment! I’m not a huge fan of all-inclusives but I would definitely give them another shot; sometimes, with limited time, you just want to relax and not think about much!
Andi – Cheers, thank you! I’m glad you liked it…
Katie – Ha ha! I’ve never been, but I might go there eventually one day…
I agree. Everyone experiences traveling differently and as long as it works for that person, it’s ok. I have a trip coming up in a few days and I’m already dreading the traveler to traveler small talk because so much of it can involve people telling you how you should spend your time/money. Not the mention the weird one-upmanship that drives me nuts!
I absolutely agree. I’m so sick of the snobby traveler vs. tourist thing. You’re so right–why judge?
i’ve been backpacking in new zealand for 3 months and i am so tired of my family and friends back home telling me what i’m doing wrong or should be doing differently…how could i miss seeing this or why would i do that?
last time i checked it was my trip and they were the ones still sitting on their bums at home!
I agree 100% I found this post so refreshing to read. I felt ridden with guilt after “volunteering” in Tanzania. I didn’t even want to talk about it when I returned to university for fear my classmates and professors would scoff at me for getting caught in the tourist trap of Serengeti safaris and beach holidays in Zanzibar. I do wish I did more “volunteering” but I did contribute in a lot of ways and had the time of my life.
I also believe that even the most local of travel is travel, too! I’ve spent the longest time feeling bummed about my lack of funds to travel across oceans, and even more bummed about my teaching prospects in Korea falling through, but I am cheering myself up with all sorts of mini vacations within a couple hours of my hometown. I find people always look to places far beyond there own backyards to find something exotic or interesting, but lately I feel like I can get that same sense walking along the cliffs of Nova Scotia where the Mi’kmaq held traditional ceremonies for thousands of years or sailing across the strait to PEI. 🙂
Well said darling, we are all on our unique journey in life and travels [& almost everything else we do in life] reflects that – moment by moment, day by day, trip by trip. I see it a pointless exercise to pigeon hole – as long as the next person is happy & is truly following their heart surely that is all that matters… Great post. I miss you! xxx
Jill – I hate that one-upmanship as well! I met a horribly snobby traveller today and really had to bite my tongue…
Rowdy Chowgirl – I’m glad you agree!
MacKenzie – So true! As long as you are doing what you want and still respecting the country you’re in, who cares?
Sarah – You’re so right! Local travel is so wonderful and I always try to do it when I live somewhere…sometimes just a weekend trip or even a day trip can totally rejuvenate our spirits. I’d love to go to Tanzania one day!
Ali – Thank you! I can’t wait to talk to you about YOUR unique and beautiful journey. Miss you too xo
i totally agree. i must admit i was guilty of that tourist vs traveller separation but after awhile, i realized that there’s a lot to learn from all sorts of people. i had enough time to ponder on these thoughts and we all know that we, as travellers belong to a society without prejudice. we don’t judge people through their race, culture or social status. we all share the same passion and that’s all that matters. we are one in our journey and in our experiences…
let us support each other and may our paths cross someday.
Travelling Nurse – I totally agree with your line, “We all share the same passion and that’s all that matters.” I hope our paths cross, too! Thanks for your comment…
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[…] many things that make me happy about travelling, and so many things I love about fellow travellers. As I’ve mentioned before, years ago, there is one thing that I cannot stand, however: judgmental travellers. I’ve always believed that […]
I agree to allof the above. I say: no travel is wrong travel