It's A Great Big World
How to be a Traveller and not a Tourist
Before we begin, let’s distinguish between a traveller and a tourist. A tourist is someone who is intent on seeing the attractions (usually the ‘must-see’ attractions) without giving much thought to what they are going to see. For example, a tourist would visit a famous art gallery even though they don’t even like art but merely because they feel they have to see it because they may never come back to that destination. A traveller on the other hand, may still go to the popular tourist sites, after all they’re popular for a reason, but only if they’re interested in what they’re visiting. More importantly, a traveller experiences their destination and so I’ve come up with some tips for you to be able to experience your next holiday destination.
Don’t try to cram in all the must-sees.
There will always be so much to see and so just accept that you will never be able to see everything. By following this simple tip you won’t ruin your holiday by rushing from one museum to the next. Walking through a tourist attraction with your eye on your watch will not make for an enjoyable experience. Think quality over quantity.
Be mindful of your destination.
Read up on where you’re visiting before you leave. Learn what language they speak, some of the major cities, especially their capital city, and any strange customs you should be aware of (e.g. leaving your chopsticks stood upright in your rice is an absolute no-no in Asia). When we travelled to Asia, we did a lot of research before hand so we knew how not to offend the locals. Not only does this make you a traveller, it also displays general common courtesy. Speaking of customs, don’t try to thrust your own customs on the destination you are visiting. There are places in the world where tipping is not the norm and can also be considered offensive and there are also places where they have just had to start accepting tips from tourists (that’s tourists, not travellers) because they are thrusting their own customs on these destinations.
Use local transport.
If you want to immerse yourself and experience a destination like a local then you should use local transport. We visited the Big Buddha just outside Hong Kong using the local bus and even though it was fantastic visiting the Big Buddha, getting there was also an enjoyable, authentic experience.
Be flexible with your plans.
If you are rushing from one tourist attraction to another with your head down and you’re more focused on your next destination than the one you are actually at, you are going to miss things. If you want to spend longer at a particular museum, then do! When you are travelling, often times the most memorable moments from your holiday are not when you are sticking to your plans but those unscripted moments for example meeting a local or stumbling upon a fantastic local restaurant.
If you see a restaurant you have at home, don’t eat there!
I have to confess that I sometimes will eat at a McDonald’s but then I always feel that I may have missed out on some great local food. Tasting local food is essential in having an authentic experience at your destination.
Remember as a traveller, it isn’t always about the destination, you must also enjoy the journey!
About the Author
Rhian Torontow is a Family Travel Consultant with Magical Family Adventures. Rhian creates travel experiences that foster connections in your family that will last a lifetime and transforms your children into open-minded, flexible, well-travelled people. During Rhian’s childhood, her father travelled for work constantly and it was always travel that brought her family back together. You can follow Rhian on Facebook at www.facebook.com/magicalfamilyadventures, Instagram @MagicalFamilyAdventures and you can also connect with her on LinkedIn ca.linkedin.com/in/rhiantorontow/