Traveller or tourist, that’s the question. And if you are the latter, and you’re a Millenial (you’re that into yoga and unkempt beard) and your friends have been dengue-d at least once while they were
vacaying *cough* travelling to some tropical island like Mentawai, then you’re doomed. You’re a joke. Be prepared for the downpour of practical, condescending jokes aiming at you.
Why is it bad to be a tourist, and cool to be a traveller? I don’t know. The raging debate of “tourist vs traveller” is still taking place as I write this.
But here I’ll show you that being a tourist isn’t all that bad. Why?
Well, first of all, it’s called TOURISM for Pete’s sake (who’s Pete? Don’t know. Don’t care).
Who do you think will have more impact to the local economy? A bus-full of tourists or a proud, lone-wolf of a traveller who always bargain his/her price like his/her life depends on it? Do you see where I’m going with this? Am I right or am I what? After all, without tourists, who’s going to buy all those Bintang shirts?
Again. Who do you think will be the victim of the occasional petty crime? A member of a tour bus full of people who may or may not know kungfu, or a lone traveller with all the I’m-new-here look on his/her face? That kind of look is just bad thing waiting to happen.
Do you notice what’s wrong with the above illustration? No one. No one in their right mind will hitchhike a bike, with a stranger aka someone you don’t know, who could be a psychopath, in a place you don’t know. That is unless you’re ordering Go-Jek. (I know, I know, that psychopath thing is a tad too much. But you get my point.)
You know why? Because a local tour driver can beat your Google Map/Waze anytime. Although I agree that getting lost isn’t that bad because it can lead to a new adventure, there’s also these places that you need to see, visit and enjoy at a particular time in a day. These time-specific places really lose their appeal outside of that time frame. And getting lost won’t help you. See below photos for comparison.
Since Instagram that is. So, why do they blame selfie sticks? Since when are they worse than tripods for instance? People with selfie sticks won’t look at you with a condescending smug face, will they? Now, compare that with the face of a tripod-wielding, DSLR camera-whipping traveller who caught you red-handed taking a picture with a tiny tiny camera. Boooy! That look. Comparing cameras…suddenly it felt like my high school years again.
No one seems to notice that being a traveller demands some luxuries. Ok, no travellers will admit it but the truth is to be a traveller–as portrayed in many travel blogs–still demands some freedom on your part regarding time and budget. That freedom is not cheap. Unlike some of the travellers whom I know make money by writing and blogging about their journey or by monetizing their coding skills so they can work remotely and become a digital nomads, some of us are just regular Joes at where we work. (hint: limited vacation and travel budget).
It’s OK if you’re into slow travel, but that doesn’t mean to travel Indonesia in 30 days (read: in a classical rushed, touristy way) is wrong.
Am I right or am I wrong? Not only they can give you that safe feeling in numbers, they’re also your first line of defense against anything.
That food looks funny? “Yo, [insert your friend’s name here]! I bet ten bucks you don’t want to taste this.” “Make that twenty!” “Deal!” You lost 20 bucks but were spared from having a grueling stomach ache. Either way, you won.
But wait. By friends I mean anyone you know that knows you really really well. It can be your spouse, cousins, childhood friends, neighbors, your ex, your exes’ ex, or yo mama. In short, someone who will walk you back to the hotel when you’re too mm…dysfunctional to do it by yourself (and vice versa). So, in that light, someone you randomly meet at a cheap hostel simply doesn’t count.
Travelling together means that by-the-sea villas will be more affordable for you. Of course, it won’t hurt your travel and it will be much, much more enjoyable if your travel companions never complain, have belly made of lead and have the same taste or hobby as you have (it’s a tough job, but it’s not impossible). You know, just to make sure it runs smoothly without any shouting-match-about-where-to-eat-or-sleep kind of drama.
Hell yeah. As a tourist, you’re supposed to come to those places. That’s every tourist’s raison d’être isn’t it? Those places are specifically regulated, planned and designed to accommodate you and your entourage, give you the warmest welcome and the best tourist experience, or TX, if there’s any of such thing. But as a well-seasoned traveller, that will only tarnish your reputation, won’t it? You’ll be guilt-ridden for days even though you know, deep down, that some tourist traps are popular for a very good reason.
Wait. Wait. Wait. Don’t stone me just yet.
Most of the time, the word traveller is just a self title people use on their blog and not in person. Have you met someone for the first time and he said, “Hi, I’m [insert a name here]. I’m a traveller!”? People can’t do that without risking themselves to be perceived as pretentious unless you are Columbus or Marco Polo or Battuta (reality check: you aren’t) and even then they won’t use that word to introduce themselves. Doing that and you just make yourself a target to a barrage of not too subtle cynical questions. (So, you went to [insert a place here] huh?)
Travelling. Be a traveller. It’s something that you perceive internally. It’s not something you brag about
unlike the vegans.
Just because you stayed at one place till your visa runs out doesn’t mean you’re a traveller. In fact, a tourist who’s actually a traveller (by every definition of it, especially the hipsters’ version) is much much better than a tourist who pretends that he’s a traveller.