May 7th is National Tourism Day, and at some point or another, most of us are guilty of being a mainstream tourist.
That is, the second we see a widely-popular monument or place, we take out our phone, snap a picture or selfie, and immediately post it all over the internet. After all, how will your friends know how cool it actually was if you can’t produce photographic evidence?
The truth is, the line between tourist and traveler is a bit blurred, though often debated.
Many will argue that if you want to be a true traveler, you can’t be a tourist. Tourists are regularly deemed as people traveling to view cultures from the outside in. They stay within major “tourist attraction” cities. Travelers, on the other hand, think of themselves as a bit more cultural. They often take the path less traveled to thrive on experiences themselves.
When looking at the dictionary, a tourist is defined as one that travels for recreation. A traveler is defined as one that goes on a trip our journey. Of the two, the operative word journey makes the biggest difference. A journey itself can be as defined as the traveler deems it, whether it’s a physical, emotional or spiritual one.
Typically, tourists do not visit places to go on a journey; they visit places for the sake of being able to see the sights and major attractions that a destination has to offer. Tourists will plan for months methodically checking prices and deals, and crafting their itineraries. While none of this is certainly a bad thing, we do think there are some benefits to ditching the meticulous plans and embracing the more rugged side of traveling.
For example, there are many mainstream attractions that have only become mainstream since being “discovered.” This means that beyond that natural spring that has become an over-crowded tourist attraction, may be an even more breath-taking waterfall. The waterfall could be mere miles from the natural pool that is now accessible by car, but many tourists would never know.
To embrace your inner traveler, you must be willing to take a chance on adventure.
Get off of snapchat, don’t worry about how many likes you’ll get on instagram, and only live in the moment. Focus on making memories more than making evidence. Visit smaller towns, talk with locals, and hear their stories. They might clue you into just how much one place has to offer. By focusing more on the journey, you are sure to cultivate more meaningful experience than simply viewing.