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.
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.
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.