Traveller versus tourist. Are you the good traveller or only the bad tourist?

At first, I thought I was suffering from incessant hallucinations but I was wrong. Call me naive but I didn’t really know how superior some people think they are in the traveller versus tourist debate. I really want to encourage others not to feel too bad about this. You know we are all in this world together, and whether you decide to travel to your neighbouring hamlet, to the coast of your home country or 10 times around the world including a stopover on the moon.

Don’t let others make you feel bad about yourself and your decisions. The life you live is unique, you only have one life, and you most certainly don’t travel somewhere to impress others. You won’t win price money for having travelled to so many countries in your lifetime (this is just a number you know). There are the ones, who are so very proud to own a massive flat screen, and then there are the ones who are proud to own an even bigger car, and then there are the ones, who pride oneself with the number of countries they visited. It is all in your head, you know? Every individual has different values.

The words Ti Amo painted in red onto a grey wall.
Love each other more

Travellers love to think to experience more than a tourist. So what? Do these people believe the rest of the world is going straight to hell for not experiencing the same? Who in their right mind would truly believe that tourists miss out compared to travellers? How do these people make themselves believe they know what others are searching for in the first place? A century back travelling was a privilege for the aristocrats, do some secretely dream of going back to these days? It is scary to see that the modern-day nonconformists are just as petty-minded as
previous generations have been elitist.

Modern-day nonconformists are just as petty-minded as previous generations have been elitist

Why do some people feel they “graduated” from being a tourist to a traveller? Does that mean that the rest who didn’t “graduate” (sorry, I really had to use this term once more) failed as a traveller? That would explain why these people feel in the right to tell the rest of the world, aka the tourists, what is hot and whatnot. Oh wrong again, these people in the know don’t want to hang out in hipster places. These places, most often called tourist traps, are simply too common. These people rather go to far-flung destinations ... I mean they probably have no choice anyway, after that enlightening moment when they realize that they are no mere tourists anymore. I don’t know but I think they believe they find places as a traveller that a tourist wouldn't. Do these people run over hot coal to become that person?

Do people run over hot coal to become that person?

I recently drove from Cape Town, South Africa to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and back. On the way, I visited Chobe National Park in Botswana. In total, I drove roughly 6.000 kilometres in my Land Rover and hardly saw any other visitors on the whole trip. I went there as a tourist (but back home somebody already told me that I am not a tourist). Interesting some people really know it all. But that is the whole point, everybody feels differently about things. It solely depends on your personal perception and experience. It was pretty wild and in some places, I would have been gotten eaten by lions if I only would have been unlucky enough. In Kasane, I overheard a guy on the phone “Yeah hi. You know I am here in the middle of nowhere, pretty rough, but I am going to fly home in a few days …”

See, the same story, the surely lovely chap was standing in the reception area of a lodge in Botswana, I mean he even had a mobile phone connection, and as we can hear, there is an airport nearby, he planned to fly back … but he believed to be the most adventurous person ever. He and I were ordinary tourists. Where does the urge to be that wicked person comes from? And most of all why is it? What do people have to prove? 

A black and white mural of the hand gesture V sign on a beige wall.

A tourist, a traveller or a couch potato

Life is tricky if we want to lead a coherent life. If we are all so truly open-minded, we shouldn’t give a toss whether someone is a tourist, a traveller or a couch potato. We should stop to pigeonhole and to control others, which is so un-glamorous. And do you know what I find especially sad? Our grandparents hadn’t the opportunity to travel the world the way we do it today. There are so many people all over the world who can’t travel, they are not as lucky as we are, they might be lethally ill or live in poverty, they might have no idea how to get through the next day … And here we are, posting pics on Instagram of our latest adventures, and hanging out on Twitter, smugly discussing whether we are tourists or travellers.

See something new of the world

Tourists and travellers are both out there to see something new and not hang out in front of the TV. The more we see first-hand from other cultures, the better. We are all humans. Visiting new places is great, no matter what. We only have one life, relax and enjoy as long as you can. Just go Show empathy. Think twice before you judge. No one is superior over others. This is how THE TOURISTIN was born. Touristin is the German word for a female tourist.

Lucky you. What an adventure you have ahead of you

Big question. Do you think the attitude of feeling "super special" is going to change in the future? Do you believe people are going to become more open-minded? When someone hasn't been to a place, I always say "Lucky you. What an adventure you have ahead of you," rather than "I can't believe you haven't been". I want to show my love for travelling. What else can we do to change things? I really can’t wait to hear from you. Please also read Why dressing like a local doesn't make sense.

From Berlin with love