We all like to travel…Seriously who doesn’t!!!
How fun it is to step from our comfort zone, hopping from one city, or one country to another, experiencing new things, getting culture shocked, witnessing weird traditions, and tasting mouth-watering or yuki foods, however there is a thin line, no no a thick one that differentiates a traveler from a tourist, which doesn’t make one better than the other, it’s only a matter of a traveling style, and the fact that a traveler learns and saves so much more. So let me put it that way, a tourist is a person who travels to visit a place for pleasure, to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of her/his daily life, someone who goes to a travel agency asking them to do all necessary arrangements without getting into too much details or going the extra mile, but a traveler is someone who considers her/his trip as a journey, where s/he wants to get the best out of it, learn as much as possible, embrace adventures, and misadventures, keen to merge with locals to experience their culture and get a taste of their local cuisine. So here is 15 steps to be a traveler not a tourist.
Make a Saving box
A real traveler does not leave her/his travel plans pending on circumstances, or on what s/he has been able to save over the course of a certain period, because they keep a saving box, where they save a monthly amount to make sure that they have money whenever an opportunity comes their way.
Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving. ~ Warren Buffet
Photo by Ken Teegardin
Do extensive research before traveling
How on earth will you be able to tell if the destination that you are aiming for is worth the money and effort to visit or not if you do not do a decent research? The answer is research, research and RESEARCH! Spend hours doing research, reading blogs, books, articles, talking to friends who have already been to your selected destination, submitting questions to online forums. The worst feeling in the world is spending your savings on a lousy trip, or a place that does not fall into your personal preferences.
Photo by Mark Stephenson
It’s good to know everything about your destination, to read, research and do some planning as well, but you have to leave some room for innovation, a chance to get lost, to think out of the box, always remember that random is cool, and if “there is No Risk, there is No Fun”.
Bonus tip: I usually pick a couple of things that I really want to visit at my selected destination, things that I cannot leave without experiencing or seeing, then I leave room for any random plans that come my way.
Not all those who wander are lost. ~ J. R. R. Tolkien
Photo by Laura
Make your own bookings online
It doesn’t require an internet savvy to make online bookings, the internet hasn’t left behind anything that cannot be purchased online; flight tickets, hotels, car hire, travel packages are no exception. Not only does it save you time, but money and effort as well. If you are skeptic about how to book your flights online, here’s how.
Photo by Lucius Beebe Library Memorial
Dare to be different
Try to tell your friends: “Hey guys this year I am planning to travel differently, I am going to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, hike the Amazon, and do Gorilla trekking in Uganda”, be ready for sarcasm, to be called mental, be attacked and judged by everyone, but who cares? Let go, it’s your life not anyone else’s, so dare to be different & to travel differently as well.
Please be a traveler not a tourist. Try new things, meet new people, and look beyond what’s right in front of you. Those are the keys to understanding this amazing world we live in. ~ Andrew Zimmern
Avoid tourist traps, places that only tourists go to, -but this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go to the Eiffel Tower in Paris or Big Ben in London, it’s just that they must not be the highlight of your trip-, get yourself a good map, put on good walking shoes, pick a random place, & go explore it.
Do not go where the path may lead go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Pick your travel companion carefully
You are a traveler, not a tourist, you know what’s the purpose of your trip, therefore you have to put effort into choosing the right travel companion. This selection is even more important than the trip itself, your travel companion can make or ruin the whole trip. Pick someone with common interests, so if you want to go hiking don’t pick a couch potato, if you want to sight-see don’t pick a shopaholic, if you are more into morning activities don’t pick a nightlife guru. Do a smart selection to not regret it later, you might lose your friend, hate the city/ies traveled to, and hate yourself for wasting your money on an unpleasant trip.
Picking the right people by Michael Heiss
Stop making money as your excuse not to travel
Travelers travel with whatever money they have, they know that they can accommodate themselves with whichever amount they have, but tourists wait for too long, as they want to stay in an at least 3 star hotel, in the city center and eat at the city’s most famous, and expensive restaurants. If you travel abroad, it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. Who said that traveling has to be to another country or another continent? You still can travel locally to lots of destinations, specially that we are very lucky to be living in a country that has a wide selection of beaches, adrenalin pumping & fun activities to do.
Travel is never a matter of money but of courage. ~ Paulo Coelho
Travel off season
Only tourists travel during high-seasons as they are not informed of how much they can save when they travel off season, needless to say how less crowded it is, hence a greater chance to enjoy.
Eat street food
Avoid fancy restaurants, big food chains, go local instead, eat from food stalls, have the guts to try foods that you are not familiar with, be it crocodile, and zebra meat from Africa, snails and frog legs from France, insects in Asia, be original, you might get stomachaches, but you won’t die I promise. Not only you’ll have the full experience through tasting the local cuisine, you’ll also save a lot of money.
Photo by Austronesian Expeditions
Go to local places & mingle with Locals
There is no better way to experience a foreign country other than going to local places, socializing with locals, and becoming familiar with their traditions. No one else can give you better insights, or on the ground recommendations as them, they will also help you become a savvy traveler, hence learn, grow, enjoy, and save much more.
If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home. ~ James A. Michener
Learn few words from the local language
Speaking the language of a foreign country! It has a “magnetic effect”. We all get excited when we run into a foreigner who’s trying hard to speak our language, don’t we? We sense how much this person has put an effort into learning our language in order to be able to communicate with locals from all educational levels, which makes us wanting to be of as much assistance as possible.
Photo by World Bank Photo Collection
Use public transports
No limos, no taxis, stay local, & use public transports no matter what it is -metros, trams, buses, micro-buses, ferries, bikes, tuktuks, even if on the back of an elephant. Not only it’s cheaper, but much more exciting, and above all your perfect chance to meet locals and get into their daily life routine.
Photo by Sebastian Losada
You don’t really have to carry 3 coats, 2 dresses, 4 pairs of jeans, 2 high-heels, 3 ballerinas and 2 flip-flops. One of the main differences between tourists and travelers is that the latter make a checklist, and only carry items that they need and will actually use. When it comes to packing be minimalist, it’s not difficult to find laundromat services.
Photo by Karin
Avoid luxury at all cost
Yes it’s lovely, yes it’s great to be pampered, unless it’s your honeymoon, a vacation where accommodation is the main highlight, or you do not care about traveling several times a year, do not stay at hotels, or any luxurious alternatives, for several reasons; 1. you’ll only go there to sleep, 2. you can save a lot if you pick inexpensive alternatives, and 3. this is the part where things get exciting, adventures & misadventures happen -not always :).
Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller. ~ Ibn Battuta.
Photo by Marco Orazi
So now, do you see yourself as a tourist or a traveler? And if you find yourself a tourist, do you want to convert into a traveler?