Differences Between Traveler and Tourist

By Reshma Dewda on Jul 09, 2015
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Once upon a time there was a traveller and a tourist. Both of them planned a trip to Utopia. The minute the Tourist decided to go on a holiday, he turned pale white with nervousness and started getting panic attacks as he thought of all the minute things that needed to be taken care of. He wondered in his mind why a holiday that was supposed to relax him was already stressing him out so much.

The traveller on the other hand felt liberated by just the idea of exploring a new place. He booked his one way tickets and decided to leave everything else to fate; he wanted to feel like a new born baby who has just entered a strange but hopeful world.

The tourist rushed to his travel agent and decided to bare his pocket and his soul to this man who was almost drooling with rapacity.  He could almost swear he saw sharp fangs and red horns on this guy! He shrugged off all the negative instincts towards the travel agent- after all, he was to totally depend on this man to custom-make or break his vacation.


The day arrived when the tourist and the traveller were to leave for Utopia. The tourist started packing; he pulled out his biggest suitcase and dumped it with greasy, homemade snacks, woolens in case it was too cold and shorts in case it was too hot. He put an umbrella and sunblock to prepare against unpredictable weather and several sizes of napkins to make sure not a single thing was overlooked. He kept telling himself that he was missing something and it suddenly dawned to him like an epiphany - he had forgotten his all-in-one swiss knife!! After torches and gadgets and one pair of shoes for every possibility, the tourist was panting but ready! Utopia!!!!!!!Here I Come.. said his status update. 

The traveller needed to pack too. He pulled out his backpack and dumped in some wrinkle-free t-shirts, a couple of shorts and sunglasses and a sturdy walking shoe that was to be his companion for a long time to come.  Ooops, he had almost forgotten his favorite novel ; there it went next to a few basic toiletries and a foldable sleeping bag. He was off!

Planning for the Trip

Between airport transfers and recycled air, the tourist scanned his printed itinerary nervously to see what's coming up. He felt safe because there were a dozen more people looking just like him, wearing identical t-shirts, travelling to the same destination blindly following a sometimes-chirpy, sometimes-irritable tour guide.

The traveller sat alone but felt a quaint familiarity amidst the unfamiliar chaos. He got his diary out and started writing his feelings. He was preparing his body and soul for the incredible experience that lay in front of him.


The tourist arrived in his damp-smelling but fancy looking hotel that was going to be his home for the next few days. Having fought for an upgrade and with a splitting headache from the sugar rush of the welcome drink, the tourist settled in his room that overlooked nothing. He took a few minutes of deep breaths- he had to prepare himself for the race he was about to take part in. A race against time to see, hear and gulp in the new city almost all at once. There was no time to step out now, he must sleep to prepare for tomorrow.

The traveller took a few minutes too. He closed his eyes as the feeling of having finally arrived engulfed him. His first stop was the most popular square of the city, not a hotel. He sat right in the middle of the evening chaos and let each and every new feeling seep into him like drops of water in a parched throat. He ate at a local stall and booked tickets to the nearest village. The city could wait. The village is what beckoned him the most.

One Among the Locals

Several snoozes of alarm clock later, the tourist awoke to buffet aromas and honking tourist buses. Like perfect clockwork, the tourist shuttled between one famous monument to another, all the while clicking the mandatory selfies and checking off the items from the must-see list.  He avoided local people like the plague and shuddered at the thought of free time on the trip. When the locals said Merhaba, he responded with Hola and when they shook his hand with warmth, he frantically searched for his sanitizer.

The traveller made this new place his own. He stayed with locals and learned their ways. He listened to their stories and joined in their personal celebrations. He walked wherever he could and explored unseen corners. It wasnt easy for him ; stomach upsets to insect bites he paid a price for being in the paradise. He often forgot his camera but captured memories in his mind. He let this place make an impression on his soul, he embraced every experience that revealed itself.


The tourist queued at gift shops for his souvenirs while the traveller collected them on the beach. The tourist looked for his favorite brand of beer in a supermarket while the traveller drank the local brew. The tourist made some new friends from back home, the traveller looked for old friends in new faces.

The tourist came back exhausted and the traveller returned exhilarated. The traveller left a big part of his heart back at Utopia while the tourist left a big part of his wallet there. As the tourist quipped to his colleagues, I need a holiday to recover from my vacation, the traveller was packing his bags for his next journey.

Where do you see yourself in the story? A traveler or a tourist? Tell us in the comments.