Monday, 12 December 2011

What is the difference between a Traveler and a Tourist?

Leading on from my posting on the 6th of December (shameless self-promotion of my own blog, oh yes, what irony) I briefly touched on what the most stupid thing was that you may have overheard a tourist say.   I started to think how do would you classify a tourist, I have classified it  in the past as the following - mostly people see themselves as travellers and other people as tourists.  But I although I think that's true for most of us I think it might be better to come up with something slightly deeper, not a lot, just slightly.....

So starting with the dictionary 
tourist  (ˈtʊərɪst) 
— n
1. a person who travels for pleasure, usually sightseeing andstaying in hotels
    b ( as modifier ): tourist attractions
2. person on an excursion or sightseeing tour

   [trav-uh-ler, trav-ler]
1. a person or thing that travels.
2. a person who travels or has traveled in distant places orforeign lands.
3. traveling salesman

So basically, I think you don't need to be travelling on business to regard yourself as a traveller.  But, we're all ready to point the finger. Living in central London as I do, at times, I can get somewhat frustrated by being looked at strangely when I bump into tourists who have decided that it would be advisable to stop in the middle of a busy thoroughfare.  "Tough!"  You might say, "Take it Barnes, that's living in a busy capital city" and for the most part and I'd agree with you, just like people letting out horrific farts on the tube which make everyone in the carriage stare accusingly at their fellow travellers, hoping to scare an apology out of someone. 

Before the nostrils start to burn
It's part of life in the capital, and so it is, but I can tell you that these people stopping suddenly are definitely tourists and not travellers because even if they have spatial awareness at home, they seem to assume they don't need it or forget they will need to remember it, when lots of people moving fast in directions and the people moving fast are unblessed with the powers of telepathy, then slam into them as they have randomly decided to look up, or down, or reach into their bag, or wonder where their friends have gone, or whatever it is that has made them stop suddenly.  

So, in rough terms, and by now what feels like a slightly rant deflected thought later, I think a "traveller" or "traveler" should be defined as someone who moves to or through places and environment without disturbing everyone around them, either fellow "travellers/travelers" or people going about their daily business who are in the locality.  I think that's sort of fair.  

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