Tourist or Traveler—which One are You?

Plan your trip based on your travel personality and get the most out of your vacation

In the travel community, there seems to be a need to distinguish between a tourist and a traveler. Some find it discriminating, while others don’t mind. After all, every person is different from one another and it helps to keep in mind that your travel identity is not a badge of honor but a passport to a better trip. Considering which one you are helps you set priorities when planning your itinerary each time you visit a new destination.

Excited to know whether you’re a tourist or a traveler? Here are a few pointers—see which ones you can relate to best:

A tourist stands out; a traveler blends in.
Known for their tendency to stay in their comfort zones, tourists consider a trip as a vacation, so their main goal is to relax and take a break from their daily grind. As they roam around, they always carry a guidebook and a camera—with a selfie stick, more often than not—which locals easily associate them with. Tourists dress as they would where they come from and only speak English when visiting foreign places.

Travelers, on the other hand, prefer to keep it low-key. For them, a trip is a journey that enriches them through experience. They immerse themselves in culture and interact with locals to find out social habits to observe. Travelers try to learn phrases in the local language, such as “please” and “thank you,” so they can strike a conversation with the natives. Before heading to a new place, they research on how locals usually dress not only to blend in but to respect religious and cultural customs.

A tourist prefers comfort food; a traveler eats exotic cuisines.
Tourists most likely stick to food they are familiar with, resorting to popular food chains where they’re traveling. But there are adventurous ones, too, who would try local fare that taste something closer to home—just nothing too out of this world though.

Defined by their willingness to eat any cuisine served to them, travelers know too well that food accurately echoes culture. They go out of their way to sample local joints, preferring humble street food over more renowned restaurants. Their mantra: the more exotic, the more exciting.

A tourist visits popular sights; a traveler explores unfamiliar spots.
A tourist’s check list includes major cities where known museums, historical sites, and shopping districts are located. Going from one point to another requires GPS, making sure all must-sees are covered in a day. Souvenir-wise, tourists spend a little more at a popular local shop, knowing that its items are quintessential to the place.    

As travelers interact with locals, they are let in on hole-in-the-wall venues and must-dos not found in travel manuals. Opting for smaller towns and less-traveled routes, they search for secret treasures the place has to offer, whether a vinyl café or a kitschy bookstore. Trusting only their gut when going somewhere, getting lost is a blessing for travelers because it allows them to see a foreign place in a different perspective—even discovering bargain finds on the way to take home.