“It‘s a super beautiful place. But all those tourists…” – “Indeed! The tourist rip-off starts right at the airport. And all those terrible hotels at the beach!” ...
A conversation to be heard quite every evening in quite every backpacker hostel from Asia to South America. A conversation held by people who came a long way to be here, and who give expression to their pride that they did so by describing themselves as travellers. Reason enough to ponder a little on the question: What‘s the difference between tourists and travellers?
A tourist goes for guided tours, a traveller explores the world guided only by his or her heart.
However, that does not explain the abundance of posters promoting diving lessons, jungle tours or airport transfers on the walls of those hostels where backpackers talk bad about tourists. And is the famous Lonely Planet, a book to be found on the breakfast tables of those hostels in all languages of the first world, nothing but a big tour guide, a round trip with multiple choice options?
Tourists stay a maximum of 2 weeks, travellers leave their home country for at least 3 months.
Okay, that makes kind of sense. However, technically this explanation makes travellers long-term tourists and tourists short-term travellers.
Some of them want to learn about the world and themselves, the others just want to get wasted in the sun.
Fair enough – but who is who? Hands down, we all love both. Some fancy more of the one thing, some more of the other. And often our preference changes from day to day…
In reality the difference between tourists and travellers is merely a theoretical one, it only exists in the heads of certain people. And it is all about coolness. Being cool and feeling cool has long become a basic need in our society. Problem is: If you want to be cool you need at least 99 other people who are not as cool as you, so you stand out from the mass. In the case of travellers these 99 other people are tourists. That is why a traveller should actually be grateful that the big crowd of his fellow citizens just gets sunburned and drunk at the beach instead of exploring the world of the Lonely Planet. Because it is these people and their tourist pleasure who feed the smugness of the traveller. Furthermore: What would happen if all those masses would get up from their towels at the pool and would march into the Highlands or the Brazilian jungle? We will get the answer during the next years. Thanks to the Lonely Planet even the remotest corners of this world are not that lonely any more…