The difference between a tourist and a traveller is an on-going debate that will probably never reach any sensible conclusion. My personal viewpoint on the subject is described in another ‘Tourists are travellers too” post.
However I thought it might provide a few laughs to poke fun at some of our preconceptions of the stereotypes and provide a ‘ranking’ system for ease of recognition.
Not really a traveller at all, they almost rarely take any form of vacation due to being ‘irreplaceable’ they will often be heard saying “this place would fall apart without me.”
Easily recognisable they are the ones being pushed out of the door every few years to take an ‘enforced break’ by a boss worried the company health plan premiums might increase if they have a nervous breakdown.
Vacationing in your own country is increasingly popular and its virtues have been extolled in many publications. This traveller often cites “exploring their own doorstep” as their holiday plan, but it is more likely they will merely trip over it.
They spend the whole two weeks watching daytime television and playing console games unless they are married in which case painting the spare room is more likely. The local pizza delivery will usually be on speed dial. They are extremely difficult to spot as they never come out.
Much maligned the tourist is usually part of a mating pair holidaying once a year. They maybe spotted head stuck in a guidebook dragging three bored children around sites they do not want to see. Wait at any McDonalds and they are likely to arrive in a constant stream throughout the day.
They can be recognised by their refusal to speak the language, complaining to the manager there is not any English food on the menu and to each other that the “place is full of foreigners.”
These wily travellers have taken the wise step of joining a guided tour. Usually disembarking a bus just as you arrive at a haven of solitude, chattering excitedly they surround their ‘leader’ who maybe holding an umbrella in the air and calling “Demon Tours”, “the weebles” or something similar.
They can be identified quite easily, usually clad in a camera, camcorder, smartphone, baseball cap with headcam and shades. Additionally whilst the tour guide is explaining the history of the Coliseum they will be taking a picture of the Starbucks sign offering froth-free, fu-bar flavoured mochaccino with genuine artificial chocolate bits.
Following the great white powder, regardless of the season they are never comfortable when the temperature rises above zero degrees. Mistakenly considered as lazy, anybody that has seen the amount of effort put into building a ‘kicker’ knows differently.
Unmistakeable from their ‘panda’ eyes and habit of carrying a snowboard in the local supermarket, using words like “dude, rad man and bummer” whilst looking for ski wax in the dairy produce.
Considered to be the pinnacle of travel evolution if only by themselves; travelling is in ‘their blood’. Collecting passport stamps like Jeremy Clarkson does speeding points on his driving licence, they exude confidence wherever they roam. They also insist on speaking the local language even though nobody can understand them. They often cluster in groups but then extoll the virtues of solo travel.
They are recognisable by their habit of debating amongst themselves the ultimate travel destination, pleasures of cultural immersion and explaining to anyone within earshot that “this place is not the same now the tourists have arrived.”
The ultimate traveller has been on the road for several years and probably not been home since they set out. Most claim it was a ‘lifestyle’ choice and not just because they got kicked out. Usually describing themselves as solo travellers they are however often the ‘hostel heroes’.
They can be identified easily; often wearing odd, worn garments purchased in Peru, Bhutan or Africa and clad in more necklaces and bracelets than the average Maasai tribe. They usually only own a single backpack and leave several items at every destination in an attempt to “shed a little weight”.
There is also a sub-species known as the digital nomad although the difference is not clear, perhaps they are a remote controlled version produced by Sony that speaks only in binary code.
As well as travelling for the experience and enjoyment there are some that do so professionally.
The Resort Rep
Regaled by the tour operator as the ultimate information source for a destination, this usually extends to available tour operator excursions. They like to work on the ‘Field of Dreams’ marketing approach; “if you call it a party, they will come”. Reception meetings therefore become ‘welcome drinks’.
They are usually recognisable as being alarmingly ‘full of beans’ whatever the time of the day despite having spent all the previous night partying at the local club.
The Travel Blogger
No self-respecting blogger will travel to any location without good internet access. The number of modern communication devices they carry would embarrass the average Brigade of Signals and they usually have a ‘stooped’ back from carrying it all.
They can often be identified by their need to ‘tweet’ more than actually observe. Sending out a “just about to watch a once in a lifetime solar eclipse” message to their followers but missing the event itself whilst setting up the smartphone to take a picture. They will also suddenly jump up in a restaurant with camera in hand as each successive course is produced.
The Travel Journalist
Now considered an endangered species as the distinction between them and bloggers blurs, many producing digital ink as well as traditional print articles. The really determined can find them in luxury travel destinations with large expense accounts and even larger bottles of wine.
The Travel Writer
Possibly the most laid back traveller of all as subconsciously trying to emulate Hemmingway in their ‘lifestyle’. There is not any particular rush, no deadlines or editors to keep happy, the latest book is already on chapter two and only they started it three years ago.
Finding this particular traveller requires staying close to the bar, where the cost of taking up their precious time is likely to be being left holding the bar bill.
I hope nobody identified too closely with any of these travel characters and is feeling a little offended.
Do not bother asking who is in the last picture because my lips are sealed and anybody that recognises her should remain quiet too!