Why It’s Okay to Be a Tourist and Not a Traveller

We’ve always been told that if you really want to see the world, you should be a traveler, not a tourist. Erm, I am pretty sure it’s not that black and white. Have you really experienced more of the local culture purely because you chose the path off the beaten track (with no hot showers)? Not necessarily. So dust yourself off and fly again, because when it comes down to what really matters, travelers and tourists both are passionate explorers and there’s more than enough room for all of us.

#1 We Dream in Colour  

Packing essentials — essentially the same.

You’re a tourist when: You don’t always buy into words like “World’s Most Luxurious” or “Most Expensive”, but it almost always makes your bucket list. You see these as goals to work towards but that’s not to say you’ll never rough it. You know how to get down and dirty like stomping grapes in Tuscany, but you just rather do this knowing that you will have a marble tub to soak in later.

You’re a traveler when: Your bucket list is more of a to-do list filled with recommendations from other travelers and backpackers you meet. What’s appealing to you is that you might never have heard of these places or things, but the sheer enthusiasm that accompanies the “Ah mate, you’ve got to…” is enough for you to delay putting down roots somewhere (for the 100th time).

#2 Home Away from Home

Sava – Villa Aqua in Phuket. (Luxury? Sigh. Kidding, of course!

You’re a tourist when: You’ve got The Luxe Nomad bookmarked in your laptop, phone and tablet (bonus shameless plug: you’re also a VIP cardholder). You know exactly the kind of villa you want to stay in and even plan your vacation around when you can get the best rates.

You’re a traveler when: You have no idea which hostel you’ll be staying at till you get there. Heck, you don’t even know which country you’ll be in next. It’s no big deal that you sometimes have to share a room with strangers, because it always comes down to one simple deciding factor — where’s the WiFi at?

#3 The Company We Keep

Wherever you are… (But just so you know, this is Istanbul)

You’re a tourist when: You believe the best moments in life are spent with someone special. If you’re going to travel halfway across the world to enjoy macarons by the Seine in Paris, you want your better half right there beside you (with a glass of champagne, of course!). Family vacations are something everyone can look forward to and you love being able to teach your children about the world.

You’re a traveler when: Some of your most treasured acquaintances are random strangers you meet at hostels, bars and well, anywhere really. You enjoy traveling alone, although you’re never truly alone once you get there, are you? Sometimes you even unexpectedly pick up a travel buddy, eventually go your separate ways… and it’s bittersweet.

#4 Pictures or it Didn’t Happen (or Did it?)

Oh but it definitely happened.

You’re a tourist when: You see beauty for what it is, and set out to capture in the best way you know how to do it justice — your camera. And hey, that doesn’t mean you’re not living in the moment, because you are (and you know it), you just know you can then re-live these moments over and over again when you can frame your memories.

You’re a traveler when: You lost your power-bank somewhere along the way, and you have a collection of group pictures with your new nomad friends, which the lot of you email across when you’re back at home. You have a strong opinion on the subject — either you believe the best moments are when you put the camera down, or when your trusty GoPro is your favourite companion.

#5 Work is Travel, And Travel is Work

You’re a tourist when: A hotel needs to have the following: WiFi, good coffee and a space to work. Business trips are more than welcomed, and when you’re able to, you like to rope in a few friends or family members to have a great time. Monday blues = blue skies and an ocean view.

You’re a traveler when: Travel is often your work. Somehow, you’ve managed to live out your dream of travelling and making money, and you’re more than happy to pick up an odd job like fruit-picking or bartending along the way, just to fund your journey.

#6 Food; a Universal YES!

Somewhere in the middle — Bebek Tepi Sawah in Ubud.

You’re a tourist when: You know the local delicacies and you’ll hit the streets in search of the best street food. But you also appreciate getting dressed up, having dinner by candlelight and having a plate of nasi kerabu for three times the price. If the food is good and the ambiance is unworldly, why not?

You’re a traveler when: When at the unknown, doing the unknown — eat the unknown. There’s always a slight fear of spending the following day nursing yourself, but that’s the thrill of travel, right (and why you’ve got a veritable pharmacy in your backpack)? And when that plate of nasi kerabu comes a-calling, you know where you can find a plate for just a few dollars.

And finally, it’s always the right time to travel

Photo credits: Unsplash and Dreaming in Postcards.


Diandra Soliano

Our resident Wander Woman with a passion for languages, big cities and bronzer. When she's not listening to The Smiths a little too loudly at the office (after hours!), she can be found singing along to the soundtrack of Les Miserables with her two cats for an audience.

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