"Traveler vs Tourist" by Tiffany Hill
I love this quote, because I've always prided myself on being the former, regularly separating the 'traveler' from the 'tourist,' at times even shaming him/her for their lack of spontaneity or for their need to stay on the beaten path. But over time, I have come to modify my stance. I don't believe them any longer to be mutually exclusive.
There is a certain beauty, an attraction to the Traveler, that we all have. There's something in them we wish we had. The 'get-up-and-go' spirit. 'Go-where-the-wind-takes-me,' chillax approach. They pack for 3 weeks in one bag, strike up convos with strangers, and use maps. They go to see, but they also go to know. To inhabit and be inhabited.
The Tourist, whom we cliché-ably box in, as a 'one-stop-shop,' over-packed visitor, is often downplayed, even overlooked for their ability to take in a scene. We believe them to be unopen and unreceptive to the nomad freedom that the Traveler seems to openly possess. We envision the Tourist as needing to be taken care of, more of a parasite than a contributor.
I used to be guilty of the above, irritated and even condescending to their fanny packs and Nikon cameras. Stopping to look at everything through a lens instead of taking it all in, ingesting and digesting their environment organically without optical intrusion. Then I realized that the Traveler was once a Tourist, in the same way that a baby was once an embryo.
So, now I respect the Tourist. He/She goes to the center, to the heartbeat of the land, knowing that therein lies the answers to the inquiries of why they came. Sometimes they return to the same place time after time, feeling comfort in the arena they have claimed, but after years of return, they become versed, experts even. They read their travel books and learn the historicity and pride of what they are witnessing.
In an era where it's 'in' to avoid mainstream, where mediocrity has become sub-par, even non-par, it's believed somehow that popularity subtracts validity. The beaten path has become synonymous with lack of ingenuity and boredom. However, the beaten path is not only for the Tourist. All paths are made for discovering, whether for the first time or for repeated times. If the Tourist never touched, the Traveler wouldn't know where to go. The wind only carries you, it doesn't lead you.
The Traveler (I) was once a Tourist, the Tourist became a Traveler, and inside the Traveler lives the Tourist. The Tourist is piqued by curiosity and becomes the Traveler by necessity to fulfill that thirst. Be thirsty for both. Before you leave the beaten path, walk the one most traveled first... there's a reason it's frequented.
Happy Traveling and Touring