Travelling…tourism… each suggest two very different aspects of going on holiday, but can also be incredibly similar. What actually is the difference? Travellers make me think of backpackers with a checklist of countries in their mind, whereas tourists make me think of families on holiday. But the lines cross when you go on holiday with friends or a partner, is it tourism or travelling? Does it depend on where you go? Often in both cases you check out all the famous landmarks- surely even the most hipster of travellers wouldn’t ignore the Colosseum when in Rome? As a traveller or a tourist you let your hair down and often eat and drink way more than usual. Travellers are more commonly found in hostels, but not all stay away from hotels!
But travelling and tourism are different – some argue that travelling means integrating yourself into the local culture, whilst tourists tend to stay in the same places designed for tourism (often resorts!) Travellers are people who always have their passport and luggage at hand, just in case, whereas tourists count down the days until their holiday (but I think all leave packing to the last minute!)
I prefer travelling over tourism, as I’m sure many of you do as well. Why is it better? Why do we insist it’s more fulfilling? Well…
When you go on holiday as a tourist, it’s usually with your family or people you’re very close to. Which is fine of course. But when travelling people are more inclined to reach out to other fellow travellers, especially if they’re travelling solo! There is always a sense of community and immediate bonding between travellers as we all have stories to tell, all have faced similar issues whilst travelling, and all are just wanting to reach out to the world and seize the day.
The Less Beaten Path
As I mentioned, nobody skips out on the most famous tourist hotspots/landmarks. But when travelling you’re more inclined to take a local’s recommendation, or try the lesser known places your guidebook mentions. Some of the best places I’ve visited have been random recommendations, pursued with a “why not?” attitude. Sometimes these are the memories you truly hold dear, rather than fighting for a view of where everybody goes.
Embrace not Escape Life
“We travel, not to escape life, but for life to not escape us” Perhaps cliched, but a well-known and well-loved quote for many travellers. When people book holidays it’s because they need a break from 9-5 jobs, bills, wet weather, family, stress and routine. Way too often people say they need something, like a holiday, to look forward to. It’s part of the reason I never want to take on a job I hate, because I don’t want to be just looking forward to the weekend every Monday-Friday. Travelling is not an escape from life, but an embrace because you feel truly lucky to live on this planet with so many amazing sights and cultures to see (as opposed to other planets such as Mercury, which I bet are quite boring to live on).
Experience the Lives of Others
Finding out how people live their lives differently to yours is rewarding as it opens your mind, and you develop a stronger sense of empathy. Although it may not sound like it, but realising you are just a single drop in the ocean can be liberating (best way I get over problems, knowing that they’re just a tiny blip in the grand scheme of things). And to achieve this is to get out in the world, and experience a life different to the one you’re used to.
The feeling like you can take on the world – and do!
With travelling can come many problems – getting lost, strange people wanting to help, in a place where your native tongue isn’t spoken (we can’t always rely on English!) etc etc. Tourism, not always, but usually comes slightly bubble wrapped and with a feeling of total security. On the other hand, travelling can often test your wits and common sense, and when you come out the other side triumphant, you realise no problem is unsolvable. It creates a can do attitude that you can wear for life.
As I’m at a time in my life of saving pennies and living paycheck to paycheck, I know I’d rather spend my money on travel and life rather than some flashy package deal holiday – I know which leaves me feeling happier and more fulfilled!