Travelling means different things for different people. For some, it’s a totally immersive experience. For others it’s a destination photo shoot and the perfect opportunity to get those perfect shots for the gram. So where do you fall on the spectrum? The difference between a traveller and a tourist isn’t as obvious as you might think, let’s take a look.
Seeing vs. Experiencing
Tourists love to see places. They want to stand in the vibrant markets of Mauritius and get the #travelgoals photo. It’s all about being able to tag that location and hashtag things like #travelenvy.
But for travellers, it’s about more than just the picture. It’s about really living in the moment. What does that Mauritian market smell like? Does the food from the vendor on the corner really taste as good as it smells? Did you try and bargain with the sellers just like the locals do?
Standing out vs. Blending in
That off-the-shoulder mini dress might look great in photos, but if you’re offending the locals then you can bet your 11k followers that you’re standing out like a sore thumb. And if you’re standing out in a negative way, then you’re definitely going to be labelled as a tourist – and we all know what that means, higher chances of being overcharged, pickpocketed and mislead.
Blending in shows that you respect the local norms plus it gives you a more authentic local experience. Immerse yourself in the culture to get a feel of what it’s like to be a local. Don’t just watch the locals, try to be one – even if it’s just for a few days. You’ll definitely get a chance to understand the local cultures better this way, and who knows, you might just learn something new about yourself too.
Eating vs. Tasting
Does your international food experience start and end at the hotel breakfast buffet? I hate to break it to you but you’re seriously missing out! If you always stick to the most convenient option then you’ll miss out on the hidden gems. That small cafe on a corner or a food truck that you simply walk past could be the best-kept secret in town – and you missed out because you like comfort zones.
The next time you find yourself in a different country, challenge yourself to taste something local instead of only eating what you’re familiar with.
Play it safe vs. Taking risks
Guidebooks are a great way to get around, but they usually only show you the most popular spots and biggest tourist attractions. If your entire vacation itinerary is based on someone else’s recommendations, are you really creating your own experiences? Listen to what others have to say, but then forge your own path, making your own decisions and creating your own memories.
Part of the beauty of travelling is feeling that adrenaline rush of leaving your comfort zone – do more than tick items off a list, go with your gut and just try something new.
Standing in queues vs. Getting lost
Some people fear getting lost while others thrive on the thrill of it. Yes, you could stand in a queue all day with your fellow tourists, or, you could ditch the top tourist attractions and just wander. Walk down the roads instead of driving and pop into the stores that smell too good to be true – you never know what you might find. The greatest adventure of your life could start the moment you put down the map.
The next time you find yourself in a foreign country, be a traveller not a tourist. Use your guidebooks and lists of “6 things to do when visiting Mauritius” as suggestions and not rigid itineraries that you can’t divert from. Go down the road whose name you can’t pronounce and try out the cafe down the side alley – leave your comfort zone, even if it is just once.