What Differentiates A Traveler From A Tourist?

Swagata Dam , 28 Oct 2016

At Gili Islands, Bali

This June, I took a trip out of the country, with a maroon over-sized suitcase and a tan leather handbag with the word ‘Wanderlust’ scribbled on it. Unlike all my previous vacations, I had no friends or family members accompanying me during this escapade. Neither was I joined by any tours and travels agent.

But it still turned out to be the most memorable journey of my life. Why? Because this was the first time when I traveled like a traveler and not like a tourist. I didn’t blindly follow any itinerary. I followed my heart instead. I roamed across the streets aimlessly and chatted with the locals endlessly. I walked into any cafe or restaurant that appealed to me and didn’t stick to only the ‘Must visit’ ones. I gorged on some local delicacies there and was surprised to find out that some of these quaint little cafes had better service and ambiance than the highly rated ones.


I ditched the popular markets and shopped at the not-so-fancy stores. When I later checked, I realised that I had managed to pick up some really cool stuff at much cheaper prices compared to the ones who had gone shopping at the renowned places. I didn’t really need any money-related advice from anyone as WesternUnion.com always made it very easy for me. Traveling in an alien country without having to depend on anyone is another sign of a real traveler. A tourist always ends up seeking guidance. I somehow managed everything on my own effortlessly.

In Bali

After years of traveling like a typical tourist, I can now proudly say that I have finally transformed into a traveler this year. I don’t travel just to rejuvenate during a vacation or to tick off a new place from my bucket list. I don’t need someone to guide me when I travel. I travel to explore new places and meet new faces, to enrich my soul, to fill my heart and mind with happiness and come back with beautiful experiences and stories.

Parampara Patil Hashmi
Parampara Patil Hashmi

When I asked one of my friends and a fellow traveler, Parampara Patil Hashmi to tell me what, according to her, differentiates a traveler from a tourist, she promptly said:

A traveler is inclined to exploring newer experiences, is willing to take more risks and is accepting of new cultures rather than comparing it with his own and dissing it. A traveler is more focused on the people and the experiences. Being a traveler is an evolution after enjoying that phase of being a tourist. A tourist is someone who is excited more about new places, often sticking to the popular notions associated with a place. It’s when the tourist in you enjoys the similarities of cultures and people, you become a traveler.

I couldn’t agree more! So are you a traveler or a tourist? Feel free to drop a comment below.

This post is in partnership with WesternUnion.com.

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