15 Steps to Be a Traveler and Not a Tourist

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

Pink Piggy BankPhoto 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.

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Don’t over-plan

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

11037126973_afc88ac147_zPhoto 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 hiretravel 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.

3618882835_00fd3b6b31_zPhoto 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

comfort zone Blog

Go off-the-beaten-path

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

Girl with a map - Blog


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.

355852355_989292b4ee_zPicking 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 beachesadrenalin pumping & fun activities to do.

Travel is never a matter of money but of courage. ~ Paulo Coelho

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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.

Scenic Blog

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.


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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

Floating Market - BlogFloating markets of Thailand

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.

2367330134_c6e0191752_zPhoto 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.

5912330712_1f4e357e0a_zPhoto by Sebastian Losada

Pack light

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.

 3755648211_fdaa6d61ff_zPhoto 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.

13605023635_cb076f369d_zPhoto 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?

Our Readers Comments

  1. Great article. I learnt most of these after 2 journeys abroad. You are absolutely right specially when you talked about accommodation. I spent around 4000 EGP for a 5 day accommodation in a 3 star hotel in my first visit to London. In my second visit, I paid half of this amount for 7 nights:). Thanks for this insightful article, way to go 🙂

    • I bet your second stay was way more fun, wasn’t it? 🙂
      I spent a 100 euros (when a euro was worth 6.5 LE): flying from Basel in Switzerland to Barcelona in Spain & stayed for 3 nights in a hostel, only 10 min from the center :D.
      Glad you liked it!

  2. I do agree with all what you have explained in this great article

    Unfortunately I found myself a tourist not a traveller & sure I wish to convert it to be a traveller cause I will have many chances more than what i have now

    But part of not being a traveller is the companion I travel with

    In Egypt its not that common to travel abroad cause of financial issues
    So I am very glad that I have a friend interested in travelling & we got wonderfull days in different countries together

    but till now I am ready to not to have a luxury recommendation but he refuses….So I have to be a tourist not with my own Will

    • @Mohamed: You can try to travel alone maybe, and meet with people from all over the world? Or if you’re into adventure you can join a crowd, or keep looking for people who fit into your criteria (I know it’s hard, but you have to try).
      By the way, hostels and budget accommodation are not as nightmarish as people think they are, try to convince your friend to try being on a budget -I know it’s no easy task- and he’ll feel the difference 😉
      Funny thing, we are always out of resources, yet most of us seek luxury 😀

  3. Great article I’ve been only to Europe once with a friend and I wanna try it again but solo. I’ve been fantasizing about a solo trip for so long but never got the guts to do it. I wanna try all the above tips and more but I’m feeling quite scared to leave my comfort zone. It’s so sad.

  4. Great article and hopefully it spreads the traveling culture in egypt. I totally agree with all of these tips and for me i find it very easy to travel on cheap, stay in hostels, eat local food and even travel solo sometimes without even planning. Such a great experience that could only be gained by traveling alone. The only thing that i still find it a bit annoying is the boring visa processes which require some planning a head and some cash in ur account which in return makes it a bit dependent on money.

  5. Amazing article and sure booking Online is better but actually not in India cause most of hotel costs 12 to 20 LE per night 😀 😀

    • Thank you very much 😀
      WOW, i love those countries where the Egyptian pound rules, hahaha @Mostafa

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