Some people don’t make much of a distinction between these words, but I think what we call ourselves influences how we behave on a visit to another country and what we expect to experience.
The word “tourist” often conjures up a picture of a polyester-clad overweight, loud, privileged American who looks down her nose at the poor locals and spend an inordinate amount of money in jewelry and souvenir shops. Such tourists ride on big air conditioned buses, stay at fancy hotels, and eat in continental style restaurants that cater to people afraid to eat the local food. Of course, not all of this applies to tourists and, really, it doesn’t matter if we are slim or more plentiful, but, unfortunately, this view of tourists is quite common and for good reason; tourists tend to come across as people coming to gorge at the buffet of someone else’s table.
Visitors tend to be invited people. I love this way of traveling and I prefer it above all others. But, I don’t have enough invites to always travel this way. I spent three wonderful weeks in India at two different homes and had the fabulous experience of living “the Indian way” during my time there. I ate homecooked food, went where my friends went, learned how to behave and dress properly…it was great. I saw places I would never see as a tourist and experience things that you just don’t have access to as a stranger without a friend in a strange land.
When I decided to run tours through Older Women, Cheap Travel, I figured the best experience I could provide would be something between tourist and visitor; we would be travelers. A traveler comes to another country with the willingness to blend in with the culture as much as possible. A traveler wants to experience what it is like locally. A traveler wants to learn about the people and to have the opportunity to understand them. Yes, we still visit famous places (so do local people when they have the opportunity and financial ability) but we also want to just be in the moment in whatever world we find ourselves in.
Down to five spots and eight weeks before the Nicaragua trip in January! http://www.olderwomencheaptravel.com/nic.html
2016 trips! Nicaragua in January, India in March, Mongolia in July, and Mexico in October! http://www.olderwomencheaptravel.com/upcomingtrips.html