Tourist or Traveler – Don’t know who we are?

Tourist or Traveler – Don’t know who we are?

Are we confused who we are – Tourist or traveler?

Tourist or traveler; the two debatable words had put us in deep thoughts and left us wondering who exactly are we?

Let’s see if these pointers can really help us decide:


  1. During the beginning of our each journey and trip, we wander endlessly on the roads without knowing where we are heading. Which place will be our final destination being completely unaware of the pleasant and unpleasant events on the way? But in the same trip, at the end of the day when we are tired, the heart & mind juggle among themselves and says it would have been better if you had some fixed itinerary, at least a room booking. So isn’t that self-contradictory?

The saying goes that a tourist has a fixed scheduled plan and a traveler has none. He just follows his heart and the trails. So, who are we? A traveler in the beginning and throughout the trip? but tourist at the end of the trip or when we are tired?

On the way to Gangotri - Tourist or Traveler
On the way to Gangotri
  1. We love traveling and want to be full-time travelers. We too never want to return back from the offbeat (like Tehri Dam, Mana Village, Kinnaur) and conventional places (like Shimla) but our work commitments, time, finances, and family pull us back.  If not after 7 but surely after 10 days. So, what it is?

And the saying goes travelers like to travel slow, stick to places for exploring more. Whereas tourist comes back exploring the fixed trails in a fixed time. So, what are we– Tourist or traveler or a combination of both? 

On the way to Badrinath - Tourist or Traveler
On the way to Badrinath
  1. While traveling we taste traditional cuisines, stay at homestays and camps, mingle with locals, explore their culture and make new friends. But at the same time, we start craving for our staple food after few meals and days. We start missing people back home.

And some say, tourist always look for McDonald, Subway, Pizza Hut whereas traveler loves to munch on local delicacies. So, we are again confused nuts and where should we put ourselves into a tourist or traveler?

Views from Ranikhet Homestay : Tourist or Traveler
Views from Ranikhet Homestay
  1. Before hopping to any of the places, we read the blogs and enquire from locals about the dos & don’ts at the destination. Whereas after reaching and seeing the suggested places, we try to roam around to find the hidden and mysterious gems of the place.

The saying goes that tourists follow the travel guide and fixed trails whereas travelers explore the offbeat place. So, what are we here –  a Tourist or Traveler?

Trails near Kasol: Tourist or Traveler
Trails near Kasol
  1. We always prefer traveling as a couple, with friends, family and also solo when it is the need of an hour.

In 2015 Holidify once illustrated in their post that tourist’s travel in a group whereas traveler travels alone. So in which category do we fall– tourist or traveler? 

Tourist or Traveler

  1. We trek, walk, hitchhike, travel by local transport and take road trips in our own vehicle as well as rented and shared cars/cabs.

The saying goes that tourist prefers taking cars or cabs instead of walking tours and treks. So where should we fit ourselves- a tourist or traveler?

Roadtrips: Tourist or Traveler

  1. We always carry our laptops, tablets, cameras, tripods, and phones on our trips. They are not only an essential component of our work but we use them to capture photographs too.

The saying is tourist carry selfie sticks, laptops, phones & tabs for luxury whereas travelers just carry cameras & tripods. So, where do we stand- A tourist or traveler or both. 

  1. We take pictures of landscapes, mountainscapes, and lakes with people, without people and our own selfies too.

For this many of my fellow friends quote, that tourists take selfies with monuments and landscapes behind whereas travelers just photo shoot landscapes and other people’s portraits. So who are we – a tourist or traveler?

Landscapes: Tourist or traveler

The term tourist and traveler might have different dictionary meanings, but for us, these two terms overlap in every trip. One might be a traveler in his own eyes but the locals always take him/her as a tourist only. We too feel that the one who is a traveler is also a tourist and vice versa. Actually, both of them follows each other’s trail – but then does it really matter and do you care?


I guess, it is just one’s own mindset and reflection of how he/she wants to be called and what they want to be seen as. For us – Travel is all about experiences and it’s an endless fairy land. So, simply wear your shoes, pack your bags and search for the next trail. It doesn’t matter anywhere whether you are a tourist, traveler or both, but more important is to enjoy the journey, destination as well as whole trip.

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Tourist or Traveler: Don't know who we are?



53 thoughts on “Tourist or Traveler – Don’t know who we are?”

  • Amazing post!
    My wife and I too keep having this discussion and we have decided that it does not matter whether we are travelling or touring, as long as it makes us happy, we will just keep doing it.

  • I agree mostly with what you write, even if as traveler I like being organized and knowing about the place I am going to (what to do and what to see), then I am flexible enough to be able to improvise.

  • This debate on tourist versus traveler has picked momentum off late. Personally, I feel I am both tourist as well as traveler. When I go to a new place, I first want to see all the places which are already famous. Then I move to offbeat places.

  • I think I have the traits of both traveller and tourists. I think its not easy to pinpoint that who is a hardcore tourist or traveller. Though I like offbeat and unexplored places, but I also love to visit the cities. Cities too have their own history and charm!

  • I am a straight up tourist and I don’t think this is a bad thing! If I went outside of my home country without a plan or idea about what the trip was going to entail I think I would have a heart attack! My wife is the same way and that is the good thing about going on vacations with her. She always has to have the entire thing planned or we wont go and I love that!


  • This is such a great post! I’m more of a traveler.I like exploring and going to places where there’s less crowds.Being a photographer, I prefer clicking the landscape instead of clicking selfies. And love trying the local cuisines too!

  • There’s really no need to label someone a tourist or traveler. The most important thing is that every individual get the most out of their travels…whatever works best for each!

  • We are definitely travellers at heart but sometimes you have to be both. Blame the 9 to 5 drudgery where you get limited holidays which means you have to take the cab instead of walk/ trek all the way.

  • I think putting labels doesn’t do any good, instead why not concentrate on immersion, being present, absorbing the local cultures and food – if you learn, enjoy, see and experience new things then that to me is the joy of travel.

  • Love the differences. I recently did a similar post last week. I keep seeing comments that people don’t like differentiating btw the two but when there are differences why not point them out. After all we are spending money on travel, then why not make the most of it.

  • I think the main difference is that tourists want to “go on vacations”. They want to “vacate”, leave their home to see and take selfies with the world’s landmarks, and enjoy the beaches, without leaving their comfort zone. Whereas the traveler wants to experience and understand other cultures. But in the end, everyone should travel the way he/she likes without having to be put into a category. 🙂

  • Hey guys, my view is — Traveling is personal. It’s about changing your view of the world and yourself. You don’t need to put yourself in a category – do what is right for you, you can still challenge, grow, learn, and appreciate by doing it your way.

  • This can become such a debate! I’m more of a ‘tourist’, I like the security of knowing where I’m going, staying and, most importantly, that I’m not missing something that would me cry when I realized it later on

  • I dunno! Of late I’m also reading a lot about the differences between a traveler and tourist! I think more often than not, we are a mix of both! As much as I love local delicacies, when I’m on budget, I head to McD… As much as I explore offbeat places, it cant be that I travel all the way to Italy and not see Leaning Tower of Pisa!!!

  • I think reading others’ perspectives on the tourist vs traveler “debate’ is so interesting! It seems everyone has their own definition of each. According to your post, I think I’m a little bit of both as well. I’ll take landscape shots as well as “selfie” or pose shots with friends & family. I love local restaurants, and tours and bit spots. I think as long as we respect the culture and enjoy ourselves and we’re happy, it’s all okay whether we are a tourist or traveler! 🙂

  • Do you have to be one or the other? There’s overlap, sure, but there’s also the view that it doesn’t really matter. “I reject the premise of the question,” is another way to put it. “You do you,” is another. Bon voyage!

  • I think I’m also both tourist and traveler and I feel really good about it because I could not visit some place without a schedule or without my favorite camera! I surely avoid McDonald’s though 😀

  • I agree with most of the other commenters- it doesn’t really matter what you call yourself. Travel is personal and what works for one might not work for another. I know they way I travel isn’t for everyone. Do you and what makes you happy and don’t worry about labels!

  • Tourist or traveller is a big debate. I was a tourist first but then i became a traveller. Travellers dont care about luxuries and other stuff. And you wrote it correct that a tourist will always try and find big places or the common ones, on the other hand a travellers tries to become a local and experience the things nearby

  • I probably fall into the traveller camp as I like to travel independently, do my own thing, and deal with the inevitable disasters with a chuckle and a sigh. Having said that, I am not sure it is a debate worth having – surely we should respect our differences and accept that not everyone wants to do things the same way? a week in Tenerife or Gran Canaria is not for me, but others would hate my penchant for disaster, the rough travel and my desire to travel to hidden corners

  • Planning and then modifying the plan around a bit is the best way to travel anywhere I think and that is what sets a traveler aside. You surely were a traveler even in this trip! I have been a traveler and tourist and I feel I have fallen in the traveler bucket more till date and I love it.

  • I didn’t understand the difference a few years back but the more I travelled, the more I became aware. I am so glad that I have broken from the shell of being a tourist and am a traveller by heart now. I take my time and explore things at my own pace. Sink in the sights and breathe in the experiences is my motto.

  • I actually think that the debate about ‘tourist or traveler’, is much ado about nothing. I would say to each, their own. Just keep traveling and enjoying the experiences, do not give thought to whether what you are doing is what a traveler should do or not do. The key is in just enjoying the moments and not getting bogged down in meaningless debates.

  • Clever post! It’s very difficult to differentiate the terms tourists and travelers. the conventional definition has been mentioned as the first point in the article but I like the way you have argued! It has caused a bit of cognitive dissonance! Makes for a nice read!

  • The fact this this is still a debate for some people is a serious stain on traveling. We shouldn’t label anyone for how they travel, or take pride in ‘choosing a side’. I agree with some of the people above, how anyone travels is their own business and shouldn’t be open to public critique.

  • I definitely have a bit of each in me – I love seeing all the popular sites – they are renowned for a reason right? But also love straying off the beaten path, throwing out the map, and getting lost!

  • This I find, is a most judgemental debate.

    Almost someone trying to question “do I travel the right way”, or “do I travel better than others”?

    Each to there own, as long as people remain respectful and hopefully through everyone’s travels we make the world a safer and warmer place

  • We are definitely a mix of both! Like you said, as long as you are getting out there and exploring the world, there is no one “right” way to do it. The biggest thing is learning and growing from each experience. Cheers you two!

  • I noticed this debate heating up lately. It all depends on personalities in my opinion. You have some good points that were interesting to read. I want to expand your statement about “tourists follow the travel guide and fixed trails whereas travelers explore the offbeat place” a bit. Just another day I heard following: “A tourist follows Tripadvisor “Top 10 things to do in…”, a traveler asks locals.”

  • A very interesting trail of thoughts Suruchi. I guess we are a hybrid version with a little of both the traits. I have fixed schedules of departure/arrival to places with some flexibility in between around what all I would like to do while there :D. Guess it’s the same with many of us

  • At some point, it overlaps. At some point, we just enjoy what we enjoy in new and old places, and care not for how the rest of the world defines us. To people like us, there is no box–there are just places. 💕

  • I agree that the lines are very blurred between traveler and tourist. We are all both at some point. We love traveling and we do it to really experience the world and see and learn new things, but we do tourist activities all along the way. We just don’t treat the world as our playground, which is one big difference

  • I like the concluding paragraph for I agree that these are just labels – it does not matter whether you are a traveler or a tourist. To each their own, whatever works for someone – as long as they enjoy their travel.

  • I hate labels. I mean, a lot of people want to travel but we have different priorities and lives. So others, can’t go on full time while others have specific standards when it comes to flights, accommodations, itineraries, etc. So whatever works for someone, let it be.

  • Lately, this debate has gotten off hand and I personally think it is unfair to stick to labels or categories, as everyone has their own way of traveling and perceptions.