I don’t positively associate with the word ‘tourist’. I personally envision this loud, obnoxious, obscenely dressed know nothing who disrupts the cultures around them as they traipse through on holiday. I don’t know why I think of a tourist this way, I just do. I’m sure there are plenty of lovely tourists. It’s just what comes to mind when I hear the word. Personally, I much prefer the word ‘traveller’. Something about it gives off a respectable air. An assumed level of appreciation for where they are and what they are doing. For me, it is about mystery, adventure, and taking chances and ‘traveller’ does it for me.
This time last year we hosted around sixty couch surfers over the span of three months. All of whom were from foreign countries, mainly Europe, and all of which I would dub as travellers. They made sacrifices, and they were committed to something both terrifying and rewarding. They all had different stories. Each story was funny, and intriguing, and had something that made you sit back and think “yes, yes this is something I have to do one day”. They romanced us with their recounts of their adventures and it was fantastic. I think what truly elevated them above being tourists to me was their purpose. I feel like travellers, people who are taking on such a bold pursuit, are doing it not to take photographs, or to collect souvenirs, or to simply say they’ve been somewhere. I feel like they’re doing it to find themselves and find out about the world. It could all just be in my head, but I feel like “Been there, and collected the T-Shirt” shouldn’t be what travel is about.
Having said that, each to their own! Do what makes you happy.