Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Traveler or Tourist?

Someone referred to me the other day as a "traveler," not a "tourist."

Er, no. No, thank you.

This distinction has long been used to single out the hardier seasoned vets from the novices.*

Here's what it boils down to:

"I am a traveler. They are tourists.

Gimme a break. Does bargaining for a fare on a truck makes you a rarer breed than someone's grandma who signed up for a guided coach en masse trip to Italy? Think again. That grandma might be doing something totally daring and brave for her. She—the tourist—might be struggling to grasp the culture in her own way, much like the proudly independent traveler. Hold the disdain, please.

We're all tourists when we leisure travel. Or travelers. Same damn thing. One traveler is not better than another because they know the lingo of the road, or because they don't have a reason to go home anytime soon. Unless you are simply traveling for transportation, perhaps on a business trip or perhaps traveling to your new home where you will reside for reasons other than to tour it, don't give me this "I'm a traveler, not a tourist" nonsense. Please help me retire this elitist distinction, seemingly so insightful the first time you heard it in a hostel as an early twenty-something. It's tired. It's snobby. It's vain.

We're all tourists.

Except Matt. He actually moved to Zagreb.

*Since Paul Bowles wrote The Sheltering Sky.

9 comments:

Marie said...

I forgot to mention Ed Ward lives in Berlin, which is neither traveler nor tourist. You get the point. Residing in a foreign country is exempted from this T vs T distinction.

Steve Buccellato said...

That's why I prefer to be called a "travelist."

(Good blog, MJ!)

Marie said...

Thanks. To tell you the truth, I'm kind of waiting for the other shoe to defensively drop.

"No, we are different and here is why!" (etc.)

Matt said...

Yes, but I am still an outsider. Once in a while, I get so comfortable with a group that I forget this. Then I say something stupid and am reminded that I am, in fact, not Croatian. Heh heh.

Still, enrolled in language classes today, so eventually I will know how to say more than "another beer please."

Steve Buccellato said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
scarfalonius said...

Travelist not touristerer?

Steve Buccellato said...

I considered "american tourister," but I didn't want to be confused with my luggage.

Anonymous said...

tourister sounds way too much like tourista

mmclaurin said...

Great blog. But it reminded me how infuriatingly polite you can be when you look at someone and say,

"Er, no. No, thank you." ;->