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We’re All Travelers Here

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Warning: this post is ranty…

Last week I wrote a post about how much I love the online travel community. And I really do, but every once in awhile (actually it seems to be happening quite frequently lately) I come across a certain kind of blog post that really rubs me the wrong way.

Dreadlocks

Creative Commons License photo credit: alex-s

These blog posts fall into the “traveler versus tourist” category, and tend to promote the idea that there is a certain type of travel that is more authentic and serious than what everyone else is doing. It’s not just bloggers who are guilty either; you can see in almost any hostel around the world.

My problem with this attitude is that it turns the act of travel, which is awesome and fun, into a pissing contest. Travel is NOT a lifestyle competition. It’s not a battle for who has the lightest backpack, or visits the most obscure places. It’s not about what you should or should not do; it’s about meeting interesting people and doing interesting things and seeing the world, because you want to.
This made up distinction between “real travelers” and the masses really annoys me. I know that there are a lot of readers of this blog who maybe haven’t traveled that much yet, haven’t backpacked solo through South America or given up their day jobs to travel full time. And that’s OKAY. You shouldn’t feel like you have to do any of those things (unless you want to). Yes, I rant and rave about the benefits of traveling in your twenties, because I think it’s an ideal time to get yourself out there. I do think travel is important. But I also don’t think there’s any one way to go about it.

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Trishhhh

The thing about travel is that it can take awhile to feel comfortable out on the road. I’d much rather you do whatever works to get you out there then stay home thinking about what might have been. Feel more comfortable taking a tour? Do

it. Learn the ropes; maybe next time you’ll feel more prepared to backpack. Telling people they are somehow traveling “wrong” just shuts them down at the start.

So is there a difference between travelers and tourists? Maybe. Not really. Who cares? If you’re visiting a tourist attraction, guess what you are a tourist. If you are someone who is eager and willing to get out and see the world, then you are a traveler. You are all both (and if you’re wearing a backpack, then that makes you a backpacker too).

The thing is that all of these words are just LABELS. They don’t define us unless we let them. You can work a 9-5 job and still be a traveler. You can Contiki it and still be a traveler if your mind is in the right place. You can have never even left this country and still consider yourself a traveler.

Travel is about a desire to see the world and learn how it works. In which case the only difference I’m concerned about is the one between those who follow their passions and the ones who sit home wishing they had.

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95 Responses to We’re All Travelers Here

  1. Gray March 21, 2010 at 10:07 AM #

    Nice, Steph. I couldn’t agree more. Thank you.
    .-= Gray´s last blog ..Snapshots of San Juan: La Perla =-.

  2. Washi March 21, 2010 at 11:45 AM #

    Great post Steph! I’m a 40-something who’s done a whole lot of travelling within my own country South Africa and have only once gone abroad. In May I’m going on tour in the Middle East…with my backpack. Till now I had defined myself as a tourist…and now I think of myself as a tourist/traveller/backpacker :]

  3. flip March 21, 2010 at 12:54 PM #

    nice post… i definitely agree.. it’s not a lifesty;e competition and everyone deserves to choose on how they want to travel :-)

  4. Joel March 21, 2010 at 1:20 PM #

    You weren’t ranty enough!! The post would have been more fun if you’d picked on specific people and sites, though.

    As long as you weren’t talking about me. :)

    I’m a firm believer in “do what makes you happy” and that’s not the same for everyone. Not even close. And personally, I LOVE all of the above – from cheesy roadside attractions to iconic temples.
    .-= Joel´s last blog ..Realize That There Is No Plan =-.

    • Steph March 21, 2010 at 8:47 PM #

      haha next time I will NAME NAMES.

  5. Adam March 21, 2010 at 1:50 PM #

    Travel is still travel. Couldn’t agree more!
    .-= Adam´s last blog ..Wombat Wednesday: Somewhere Along the Left Bank…Probably =-.

  6. Alouise March 21, 2010 at 6:16 PM #

    Labels are for soup cans, not people. Cheesy but true. I think the more we try to put ourselves under a certain label, whether that’s traveler, tourist or whatnot, the more separate and divided we’ll be from each other.
    .-= Alouise´s last blog ..Shoes =-.

    • Steph March 21, 2010 at 8:48 PM #

      Yeah, it just seems antithetical to the whole traveler ethos. We are all the same and that is that.

  7. Kyle March 21, 2010 at 6:24 PM #

    We all feel the need to label ourselves and other people so that we feel like we are part of a group. There are travelers, tourists, backpackers, location independent professionals, digital nomads, etc. Unfortunately, these groups feel like they have exclusive membership and they shun others. For me, it’s too much to worry about and it hurts my head (too much thinking), so it’s best to let others do the labeling.
    .-= Kyle´s last blog ..Visiting the "Comfort Women" of Korea =-.

  8. Abbie March 21, 2010 at 7:55 PM #

    I feel like you took the thoughts directly out of my head about this topic – totally agree!

  9. Cailin March 21, 2010 at 11:03 PM #

    Some of my first big trips were Contiki and I loved them and I think I made out ok! :) Great post! love it! :)

    • Steph March 22, 2010 at 3:00 PM #

      I haven’t done contiki myself but it seems to be a great intro to traveling.

  10. Chris - The Aussie Nomad March 22, 2010 at 3:12 AM #

    Steph your reading my mind. I’ve seen this “pissing contest” for want of a better word again and again. I don’t get it, really I don’t.

    Perhaps its ego’s or so called seniority because they have travelled longer, who knows.

    Everybody is equal in my book and I’m open to talking too/helping anybody that comes across my path.
    .-= Chris – The Aussie Nomad´s last blog ..Getting Around Europe =-.

    • Steph March 22, 2010 at 3:00 PM #

      I think its human nature to want to be the best at things, but travel is really not an area conducive to that. We should be building each other up, not ourselves.

  11. G @ Operation Backpack Asia.com March 22, 2010 at 3:42 AM #

    I know what you mean! You said you’ve been seeing it more frequently, but I’ve kind of been noticing a trending in the opposite direction. I find the “traveler vs tourist” conversation being less the issue and more the “right travel vs wrong travel” in terms of ethics, re: how to cover or not cover the red shirt protests in Thailand, whether or not to go see a certain animal attraction, whether or not to go see the hilltribes, whether or not to go to Burma/Myanmar. Maybe it’s just the region I’m in (Asia) that makes it more prevalent than in my past travels to places like Western Europe and New Zealand. At least the upshot to this being the discussion is that it may have valuable learning points to consider rather than strictly being a game of who’s better than whom.

    At any rate, I’m glad I’ve been spared the traveler vs tourist argument; you’re right, it’s so passe, irrelevant and unimportant now. As long as you’re doing it ethically. ;)

    • Steph March 22, 2010 at 3:03 PM #

      The debate over traveling ethically is definitely one worth having and so much more useful to the travel conversation then whose been to the most places.

  12. Abhi March 22, 2010 at 6:00 AM #

    Hi Steph,
    Couldn’t agree more. Even recently, I wrote a post on how travel writers always urge you to travel ‘differently’, and ‘not be a tourist’ etc, and I do not agree with that at all.
    Abhi
    .-= Abhi´s last blog ..Why you should not travel the way a travel-writer would suggest. =-.

    • Steph March 22, 2010 at 3:03 PM #

      excellent, going to check it out!

  13. floreta March 22, 2010 at 9:19 AM #

    haha i can think of a few blogs that had this tone..
    i do see the point of ‘authentic’ travel though. there are just different ‘ways’ to travel and different travel types. like it or not, labels exist. you have a great rant though. we’re all travelers. focusing on the similarities, not differences, is what binds us together; and that’s the REAL authentic travel.
    .-= floreta´s last blog ..Flip-Flops =-.

    • Steph March 22, 2010 at 3:04 PM #

      There’s no shame in wanting to travel more authentically, but the problem comes when people start getting judgey of other people’s decisions.

  14. Meredith March 22, 2010 at 9:22 AM #

    I agree. My thing is do what you like to do. If it is a double decker bus with a tour guide or a local on a bike. Who cares. Its your experience. Enjoy your trip, tour, vacation, travel…We get so caught up in being exclusive! My trip was better b/c I ate rat droppingsworships by the king in 15BC and your trip was wack b/c you at the the local chain. Get over yourself and lets support one another and encourage others to travel!

    Meredith
    .-= Meredith´s last blog ..:: All about Latin America:: =-.

    • Steph March 22, 2010 at 3:12 PM #

      Totally. I think everyone needs to check themselves once in awhile.

  15. Tori March 22, 2010 at 9:35 AM #

    Good post, although it makes me really curious to read blogs that inspired you to write this post. Care to share?

    • Steph March 22, 2010 at 3:09 PM #

      It’s a general attitude that seems to crop up every now and then all over the travel blogosphere. Just wait long enough and you’ll see it.

  16. ricki@tripbase March 22, 2010 at 12:47 PM #

    Amen! This is wonderful advice even outside the context of travel – learn to do what works for you! (Did not mean for that to rhyme.)
    .-= ricki@tripbase´s last blog ..Which Travel Decade Are You? =-.

  17. Candice March 22, 2010 at 12:59 PM #

    Oh Steph, I was TOTALLY going to write a post about this topic this week! You NAILED it! I don’t give a shit about what kind of a traveller I am, I just want to travel. And I get the whole “anti-materialism” thing, and not being wasteful, I really do. But you know what? Sometimes I’m gonna drop $200 on a few new outfits because I work hard for my money, and dammit, I like to dress up. And if I look like an idiot gawking at skyscrapers in NYC, then so be it. I’m even buying the damned Statue of Liberty hat.
    .-= Candice´s last blog ..May the Hinges of Our Friendship Never Grow Rusty, and Our Ale Never Turn Musty =-.

    • Steph March 22, 2010 at 3:10 PM #

      Sorry to steal your thunder! Judging by the sentiments in the comments a lot of people agree.

      Do I have to walk around with you while you wear the statue of liberty hat? because I mean I will, but i might need a drink first..

  18. marta March 22, 2010 at 2:05 PM #

    labels doesn’t work for us either. We are just two travelers who love to explore the world whatever it takes.

    • Steph March 22, 2010 at 3:11 PM #

      hear hear

  19. GotPassport March 22, 2010 at 5:50 PM #

    What a great honest post. Bravo for writing it.
    .-= GotPassport´s last blog ..Travel and Service: Therapy for the Soul? =-.

  20. Nomadic Chick March 22, 2010 at 7:14 PM #

    Nice post, Steph. I’m loathe to admit this, but all-inclusive resorts stick in my craw sometimes. Yeah, I sound like a complete snob… It’s not that I think people that frequent them are *tourists* and I’m some ahhmazing *traveler*. I don’t fall into those base labels. Those resorts leave me feeling like they create bubble conditions, simply parroting what we already know. Drinks and lots of North American food, with dashes of ethnic food. To me, travel or playing tourist is seeking that attraction or getting lost in the crowd, and guess I wonder if all-inclusive seekers miss out on that. Sometimes resorts seem disconnected from the country a person is visiting..

    On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to just relax somewhere and not worry about navigating or sleeping conditions. I tend to view spa trips like that.

    I totally like lying on the beach like anyone, and have bought stuff on my travels, absolutely. Nor do I assert superiority when I’ve met such folks. Guess it just isn’t for me, which totally sums up your post: everyone is different, so don’t be a ‘place’ or ‘lifestyle’ dropper. You just look like a jackass. :)

    • Steph March 23, 2010 at 2:31 PM #

      My basic feeling is that all inclusives have their place. Ethics aside they are great for when all you want is to lie on a beach and be served fruity drinks (I assume that’s what you do there? I’ve never been to one). It’s not really the same thing as actually experiencing a country but as long as people realize that, I see no harm in their existence. Just not for me, as you say.

  21. Ryan March 22, 2010 at 7:38 PM #

    Hey Steph,

    Great post. Loved it! Keep up the good work.

    I agree that all of the above are just simply labels and they should not define a person. My first “big” trip was a Contiki trip back in 2008 and I feel that I’m sometimes looked down upon in some ways by other travel bloggers or those “real” travelers/backpackers out there.

    Personally, I didn’t go on a Contiki trip to party and get wasted. I used my Contiki trip as somewhat of a preview of Europe. What I mean by this is that I used my trip to get a sneak preview of each country and with the little time that we did spend in each place, I found that there were places that I would like to explore more in depth in the future and then I also found places that I wouldn’t have any interest in visiting again. This worked for ME. It surely doesn’t work for everyone.

    Looking back, do I regret taking the Contiki trip? No. Would I do things differently if I had another chance to go back in time? Of course!

    With the confidence gained from my Contiki trip and some independent solo travel throughout Europe in 2008, I’m now heading off on an independent RTW trip in June. My girlfriend will be joining me on this amazing adventure and we plan on traveling with “No Itinerary, No Limits and No Regrets”. That’s our trip motto. ;-)

    In the end, you cannot learn without trying. I tried, and I learned from my travel experiences in 2008. Some people want to travel the world but when it comes down to making it happen they’re overcome with fear. Fear of the unknown. My advice is to get on the road, and travel YOUR way! Don’t follow anyone else. If you want to travel independently, DO IT! If you feel that you’re inexperienced and you’d feel more comfortable by joining a Contiki tour. DO IT! You need to define your own personal idea of travel. Do not let others do it for you.

    If anybody out there is interested in taking their first big trip and you need some advice, please feel free to contact me through my website. I’m always interested in meeting new travelers and even potential travelers too!

    Remember… “Fear is temporary. Regret is permanent”.

    • Steph March 23, 2010 at 2:33 PM #

      Wow thanks for sharing your thoughts! I agree, Contiki could be a great introduction to Europe for someone who hasn’t traveled much before. Anything that serves to open someones eyes to the possibilities of travel is a ok with me.

  22. Kelsey March 23, 2010 at 2:41 PM #

    I heartily agree with this, as you can probably guess from the stuff I’ve written about before.

    One of the things that I think is also key is to not judge travelers who aren’t currently traveling. I’ve gotten attitude from a few folks for calling myself a “traveler” or “nomad” when I haven’t traveled since last June and may not do so again until 2011. To me, it’s about the way you see the world, and your *intention* to travel, not when the last time you ate at a street stall in Thailand or took a chicken bus in Mexico.
    .-= Kelsey´s last blog ..Now to Collapse… =-.

    • Steph March 23, 2010 at 3:27 PM #

      As someone who has been more or less grounded for over a year now I completely agree. The travel outlook applies to more than just the people currently on the move.

      Ultimately the problem with labels is they are often too narrow to really define a situation. I am all for a completly inclusive definition of traveling.

  23. Nancy March 23, 2010 at 6:55 PM #

    “It’s about meeting interesting people and doing interesting things and seeing the world, because you want to.” Exactly, Steph.

    I travel semi-regularly (one international trip per year and a domestic trip every couple months. I don’t travel NEARLY as often as I’d like to, but I do what I can. It’s what Kelsey said, it’s about your intention is to travel. There’s a pervasive attitude that nomad/constantly traveling=better lifestyle as if it is, as you said, a competition.

    I second your motion to have a completely inclusive definition of traveling.
    .-= Nancy´s last blog ..The La Quinta Escape: My Favorite Pet Travel Memory =-.

    • Nancy March 23, 2010 at 6:56 PM #

      I should say I *shoot for* one intl trip per year and a couple domestic trips per year. :)
      .-= Nancy´s last blog ..The La Quinta Escape: My Favorite Pet Travel Memory =-.

      • Steph March 23, 2010 at 10:20 PM #

        Yeah, you’ve got the desire and drive, and the international perspective. You’re good in my book :).

  24. Pres March 23, 2010 at 10:02 PM #

    Quite insightful article, Steph! The greatest purpose of travelling is the expansion of the human mind, heart, and soul. I believe there is great wisdom in every culture and the more we look into one another’s cultures, the closer we come to world peace.
    .-= Pres´s last blog ..The 3 Globbleristic Spheres of Life =-.

  25. youngandthrifty March 24, 2010 at 1:06 AM #

    Oh I couldn’t agree more!

    It’s weird, some of the people you meet when traveling DO come off as “competitive”, like Ohhh where have YOU been in South America? I have been to this and that and this and that etc. etc. have YOU?

    It’s a pet peeve of mine when traveling.

    Traveling is all about learning more about a different culture from the one you live in. It’s about meeting people, trying new things.

    And that doesn’t have to be off this North American continent, either! =)
    .-= youngandthrifty´s last blog ..Cohabitation Agreements and Living Together Common Law- What you Need to Know =-.

    • Steph March 24, 2010 at 9:31 AM #

      I am not a competitive person by nature so this always irritates me as well.

  26. Sasha March 24, 2010 at 7:44 PM #

    I can’t agree more!!! There seems to be this whole travel snobbery out there, “I’ve travelled for this long in this remote country, i lived with a cannibalistic tribe all you have done is been there and for only that long….” Drives me insane!!! Any kind of travel in my book is valuable!!! And hell I will stick by my love of getting really tacky tourist pics and then posting them on the net lol, the snobs can call me whatever they want! I know i had my fun! lol

    • Steph March 25, 2010 at 4:49 PM #

      haha yup, just gotta do what works for you!

  27. Cornelius Aesop March 25, 2010 at 3:17 PM #

    How about we all just be backtravists instead?
    .-= Cornelius Aesop´s last blog ..New Brew Tuesday: Sapporo =-.

    • Steph March 25, 2010 at 4:48 PM #

      coined!

  28. Andi March 27, 2010 at 1:21 PM #

    At the end of the day, what’s most important is that the individual is following their heart and in their comfort zone, so I agree with you on that point 100%. However, I disagree totally with the notion that there isn’t any difference between a tourist and a traveler. It’s not that I feel like I’m any better than a “tourist,” but I can confidently say that I will experience more of a culture and country then they will, because I’m not just taking pictures. Again, I’m not trying to say that I’m a better person, I just think that I’m having a more authentic experience.
    .-= Andi´s last blog ..Brasil: Day 8 (Part 2) =-.

    • Steph March 27, 2010 at 4:29 PM #

      My problem with that is where do we draw the line between a traveler and a tourist? When I see people on the metro clogging up my commute with their maps and cameras I don’t care if they are into authentic travel or just hopped off a tour bus- they all look like tourists to me. Chances are if you are traveling you’re going to be a tourist at some points.

      • Steph March 27, 2010 at 4:55 PM #

        Which is not to say that the way you travel isn’t more meaningful then the way some others do. Just that it’s hard to really categorize people’s actions and experiences from the outside.

  29. brian April 4, 2010 at 12:07 PM #

    People compete about everything – how much money you make, the type of car, and how thick your passport is. Take it a step further, people can compete about how much they spend or how little they spend. You ONLY spent 3 months on the road? Oh I spent 17 months traveling…rah rah rah…

    What makes you happy is not going to be best for someone else. Enjoy your joys of travel and try not to compare with someone else. You’re only going to make yourself unhappy, just like with anything else in life.

    Just get out there and go!
    .-= brian´s last blog ..Shut Out Doubters, Shut Down Your Own Doubt and Travel =-.

    • Steph April 4, 2010 at 12:11 PM #

      Totally agree. The only way to be happy is to do the things YOU want to do, not the things you SHOULD do.

      • Vi April 18, 2010 at 7:34 PM #

        Right. You don’t need to copy somebody else to enjoy your time on the trip. Different people like different ways to travel and everybody need to choose the way of traveling they like best and don’t care much about what other people are thinking about your way. Relax and enjoy it :)
        .-= Vi´s last blog ..Quarantine in Australia =-.

  30. Daniel April 8, 2010 at 9:00 AM #

    I think you used Contiki as a verb! Sounds dirty! :) As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, there’s something to be said about the tourist/traveller dichotomy—and a lot of it has to do with the way one group views the other. These simplified conceptions of groups, while based on some prior assumptions are, generally speaking, rooted in shared perceptions. So as much as we might chafe at them, there is some shared ‘truth’ to them.
    .-= Daniel´s last blog ..To Luang Prabang by Rail and Road =-.

    • Steph April 8, 2010 at 9:18 AM #

      Judging by the amount of search hits I get for “get laid on contiki” it must be VERY dirty.

      Travelers definitely do like to separate themselves into categories. My only problem is when I start to get that whiff of elitism. We all tourists some days so to look down on the very idea is just absurd.

  31. Andreas June 5, 2010 at 1:42 PM #

    Totally agree with u. If you feel like traveling do it, if u feel like doing somehting else then do it, you are your own boss, knowing the world, no matter how, as a traveler or as a tourist, is just amazing.

  32. Melissa June 21, 2010 at 7:06 PM #

    Hey Steph – I just found this post (and your blog)! I think you hit the nail on the head with showing that travel is a state of mind. It’s the sense of adventure that sets travelers on the road. You don’t need to go anywhere to be adventurous, either. If you can’t afford to go further then you’re nearest lake or big city, just getting out there to experience whatever you can experience, is enough. Awesome post.

    • Steph June 22, 2010 at 10:22 AM #

      Thank you Melissa. An adventurous spirit is the most important part of any traveler.

  33. Deb July 4, 2010 at 1:13 PM #

    Great post!! I also think the advantage of traveling in different ways (‘tourist’ ‘backpacker’ ‘expat’ whatever) is that you get to learn different things about a country/city. I’ve lived in 4 different countries (visited loads more) but I love living in a community, learning how the locals do things (get a bank account, find the best place or breakfast) – it just suits ME. That’s the beauty of travel, you can make it what YOU want (or need) it to be :*)

    • Steph July 5, 2010 at 9:01 AM #

      Exactly, travel is such a versatile past time that it’s easy to make it suit your interests and styles

  34. Kelly July 17, 2010 at 4:38 PM #

    Couldn’t agree more! Thanks for writing this :)

  35. Kari July 17, 2010 at 4:50 PM #

    Great post! I couldn’t agree more.

  36. Katie July 17, 2010 at 6:03 PM #

    I love this post! I didn’t start travelling abroad until I was 24 (totally regret not starting sooner!) and have travelled in groups, with friends, with parents and solo. And while my friends view me as someone who is very well-travelled, there are times when I am talking to others on the road or reading blogs and I somehow feel inferior.

    I actually just did a blog post on group travel and why to try it because I feel like so many people seem to “look down” on taking group tours. My first trip abroad was also a Contiki tour – 7 countries in 23 days. As someone above noted, I probably wouldn’t do it again, but it gave me a taste of what was out there and what I wanted to see again and it gave me the confidence to eventually go it alone. I also made some wonderful friends on my Contiki and other group trips.

    • Steph July 17, 2010 at 10:34 PM #

      Thanks Katie! I think group tours can serve a lot of good purposes, and definitely anything that encourages people to travel more is a-ok in my book!

  37. Lisa Lubin September 30, 2010 at 9:28 AM #

    Hey Steph-
    Great post. When I am traveling and perhaps observe what some would call the ‘ugly American’ tourist…even if they are doing something slightly annoying or ‘not the way i would do it’, I always still try to give them the benefit of the doubt and say, ‘hey they are still here, they are still out in the world traveling and not at home on their couch watching ‘Jersey Shore’ and for that i have to give them props. They still made the decision to travel no matter HOW they are doing it.

    Keep up the good writing!
    LL

  38. Praveen October 4, 2010 at 4:08 PM #

    Thats a great piece there man…
    I could very well relate to it because I’ve travelled with snobs like this who think they are doing something more than what the others are doing….
    I hate that contempt which they reserve for the tourists…

    afterall, these are all labels as you said :D…
    cheers from India!

    • Steph October 5, 2010 at 11:19 AM #

      Yeah, not that i’m traveling I’ve noticed this all the more!

  39. Rease October 25, 2010 at 11:07 PM #

    I definitely agree that some travelers can be overly arrogant about their travel superiority. I have run into my fair share of douchebags who think because they roughed it on a bench in Prague that they are better than well, everyone. This is, of course, ridiculous and I don’t like feeling like I have to compete with people when swapping travel stories.

    However, I have to admit that I DO distinguish tourists from travelers in certain respects. The biggest issue for me is that tourists do not wish to experience the culture of the locals. I find it a little annoying when tourists stay in fancy hotels, eat at touristy restaurants that don’t serve local cuisine, and only go on guided tours. There is no shame in doing “touristy” things but there is shame is shunning the local culture.

    • Steph October 26, 2010 at 6:07 AM #

      This is true, but as long at those tourists aren’t being offensive or harmful, then I think it’s really their choice how they spend their travel money, even if it means missing out on what actually makes travel great.

  40. Odysseus November 30, 2010 at 2:12 AM #

    Love this post! I’m really disgusted by the strange snobbery that’s come into play as some “travelers” act elitest because they “never go anyplace listed in the guidebook” and refuse to take touristy photos. They just sound like jerks to me, like first they were jerks at home and now they’re jerks abroad. It seems like they’re trying their best to prove they’re superior to everyone, maybe because travel is their “thing” and if they see others doing it successfully, then they feel not as special anymore, thus they like to make a distinction between travelers and tourists so they can resume the superiority their egos require.

    • Odysseus November 30, 2010 at 2:17 AM #

      p.s. My rant is not a reply to anyone in this comment thread. It’s just an outburst due to someone I met in real life who very condescendingly tried to explain to me that I was only a tourist since I love taking cheesy shots of world-famous places.

  41. Julia February 6, 2011 at 2:48 PM #

    Right on!

    I fluctuate between traveling in a lowdown, “gritty” way in order to get an “authentic” experience (and guess what? If you don’t speak the language, or are obviously a different ethnicity, or dress really differently — you’re not generally going to get an “authentic” experience, anyway!), and then going for comfort and ease when I need to. I was really excited to see the pyramids at Giza, okay? It was touristy, and I paid for a camel ride, and then got in my A/C van for the ride back to Cairo — but it was something I had always wanted to do. And I can’t imagine that the wonder of seeing something that f*****g AWESOME is any better if I had hitchhiked my way there and refused to take a ton of photos.

    As long as you travel with respect for the culture, and a willingness to roll with the punches and engage the locals, hell, travel however you please!

  42. Maria Alexandra July 28, 2011 at 3:12 PM #

    BRAVO! *claps* excellent post my friend! I agree with you in every point you make. It is just like life–not everyone can be a lawyer or doctor or CEO just to be rich. You gotta find your purpose, your own way. We are all different you know. And *that’s* in fact what makes the world itself and life so amazing =)

    • Maria Alexandra July 28, 2011 at 3:13 PM #

      ps – keep up the HONEST writing! ;)

      • Steph July 28, 2011 at 6:51 PM #

        Thanks! I think a lot of people would get along much better if we just let everyone do their own thing and accepted it.

  43. Jenna September 16, 2011 at 11:34 PM #

    Too bad I missed this when you wrote it. I have been thinking the same thing for some time. I dislike showing of status in pretty much every situation, so I immediately noticed when people started identifying themselves as travelers instead of tourists or began making fun of people with that “certain look”– you know, with cameras around their necks, etc. One reason it bothers me is that there are people in my family who would fall into the tourist category, like my grandmother who worked incredibly hard her whole life and couldn’t afford to retire, died with nothing, and traveled with me to Poland and the Czech Republic. She had almost no experience traveling and wanted to do all kinds of touristy things, but that trip meant the world to her. Not everyone has the luxury to travel much.
    I am curious what the semantic difference is between tourist and traveler…I’m off to look them up right now. :-)

    • Steph September 18, 2011 at 8:22 PM #

      Totally, the world needs tourists too, and just being stereotypical is not necessarily a bad thing. My mom is headed to Beijing in November and I’m sure she will be just as touristy as you can get- but at least she’s going!

  44. Roxanne December 21, 2011 at 4:22 AM #

    I totally agree with Steph! Im south african and also a traveller/tourist/nomad.Coming from a conservative society,Ive had to endure criticism from family and friends for not “settling down” with a husband,2 kids and an office job…I dont think I can tolerate being so trapped! It might work for other 20 somethings,not for me!So here i am on my way to europe for a year leaving Jan 1st 2012..wish me luck! and pray my nomadic tendencies will ease off so my older siblings and parents “can stop worrying” about me! lol

    • Steph December 22, 2011 at 2:52 PM #

      Good luck!!

  45. Suzie November 15, 2013 at 9:06 AM #

    Fantastic article. I could not have put this idea better myself.

  46. Sara June 16, 2014 at 9:42 AM #

    Love, love love x

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Friendship proves, there is no one right way… « Reading * Writing * Ranting - March 25, 2010

    [...] week I read two wonderful posts by great travel bloggers @runawayjane and @20stravel, where they lamented the fact that there seems to be an ugly trend of travel snobbery cropping up [...]

  2. Weekend Reading – Best Travel Blogs From Around The Web (22-26 March) | As We Travel - March 26, 2010

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    [...] in particular. Just something I’ve been thinking about for awhile, and then I was inspired by Steph’s post at 20-Something [...]

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    [...] tourist v. backpacker conundrum has been debated at length. Even recently. It’s a moot point by now, at least by all those people who are connected on the [...]

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    [...] week I read two wonderful posts by great travel bloggers @runawayjane and @20stravel, where they lamented the fact that there seems to be an ugly trend of travel snobbery cropping up [...]

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    [...] you’ll forget your camera or you won’t be able to bring it out. Tayrona, Colombia- We’re all travelers here. It doesn’t matter if you’re a backpacker, on a tour, or taking a cruise ship. The fact [...]

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