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Tourist vs. Backpacker vs. World-traveller

When you’re traveling, you really start to notice the difference between the different type of travelers and you’re also starting to identify the types. The three main categories for people who like to visit other countries other than their own is (according to me) seeing a new place from a tourist, a back-packer or a travelers point of view. Here’s how you can identify the different types. Which type are you? You can also be a bi-type, a mix of two different ones. But most of you will only see yourself in one of the types.

The Tourist:

The tourist can be in any age group and can appear in any kind of shape. It can be a young couple, a family, mature or very young people. They choose a place to visit very carefully and it has to have a meaning for them to go there,  like something special in the place that the person wants to see. Before arriving at the destination, the tourist have a very clear, structured plan of what he or she wants to see and do in the city, village, country. The tourist look up everything in advance. He/ she makes sure they know the best place to stay according to their budget and they always have a well-structured list with names of places, addresses, restaurants, etc. They really want to make sure not to miss anything important at the sight and they like to be well-informed about the very old sight they have been queuing for hours to get in to. The tourist loves Lonely Planet and follows it like a bible. Always travels with suit-case and makes sure to bring home a souvenir from all the places visited. The tourist loves to try out local food but is very careful not to do so in a un-safe place where the locals would go for example (spec when visiting un-developed countries). Would never get in touch with something as dangerous as Street-food. Prefers to have a safe meal in the hotels restaurant or behind the protected walls of a resort. The travel-agency is always to a very huge help and the tourist appreciate the very convenience service and help they get from them and of course from the hotel concierge. The Tourist always have a decent to high budget, after all, they have been planning the trip for months and also saved up for it. The tourist likes to buy t-shirts with the name of the country or city visited on it. They mostly get around by taxi or tourist-bus. They have the latest camera. They make sure to protect their head from the sun. They have all the vaccinations recommended. They tip well. They always survive : ) (except for in Babel).

The Backpacker:

Apart from the very obvious, a big back-pack, you can recognize the back-packers in many other ways. Age is normally early twenties but can also differ and be older. It’s very common that the person just graduated from school and wants to explore the world or find himself before starting his career back home. Most of them choose destinations where they will surely meet other back-packers. It’s safe that way. Because most of them are traveling alone, and they want to meet people from their own hemisphere so what makes it easier than going to a place where people go to to meet people. In such places, they can meet other back-packers and they can continue to travel together. They feel very brave cause they are traveling alone, but alone is never alone. Since the back-packers are out for months in a row, they can miss home and the western standards very much. Asia are the favorite continent for back-packers. That’s why back-packer hot-spots like Goa, several islands in Thailand (Kho San Road in Bangkok), Bali, Australia just to name a few in Asia always makes sure to present the back-packers with what they really want: everything that they miss from home. They go to restaurants where most of them have pizza, hamburgers, coca cola and beer. They can stay in very cheap guest houses with western styled toilets and many bars and clubs with western music and kiosks with everything from tampons, to chocolate and cheese and imported beauty products and not to forget the endless internet and “international calls” cafe’s where you can sit for hours and Skype with your long-time partner back home or convince your parents that you will survive. Back-packers are often on a very low budget and they are trying to make the money last as long as possible. Some of them choose to work along the way to make up for what they spent on imported german beer on the beach in Phuket. The most common stop for that would be Australia where you can make around 18 bucks an hour (free accommodation) by working on a farm. Back-packer heaven!!!  Just like the Tourist, the Back-Packers loves his Lonely Planet as well. But it’s used in a different way of course. With LP you can find out where the cheapest room in a guest-house is and also locate your fellow travel mates (they’re all looking for the cheapest place too). The back-packers uniform (at least in Asia) are always baggy indian trousers (hammer style), dread locks (off course) and a colorful cross-over bag bought in a flea market.

The world-Traveller:

The world-traveller is the most serious kind of traveller. He or she might start their big dream of traveling the world when very young or their might be older and tired of career and western civilization. They wake up one morning and decide to give up their previous life and leave everything behind to live their dream.  And dreamers they are. My experience is that they can be very philosophical, they are mostly well-educated (by life, not Uni), they are very artistic and if you would happen to see them with a camera, it’s probably gonna look like a old toy camera. Sometimes, it’s hard to guess where they are from originally, cause their accent are influenced by so many other accents and you can see by their worn out old hat that they’ve been around for a while. Three things that signifies the world traveller:

1. You have to travel the world. With the world, I mean all of it. All the continents. You have a rough plan or idea of which countries you want to see, but you don’t have a list or order or specific plan of where your going, how long your gonna stay there and you might just only have a slight idea of where to go next. But just maybe. Anyhow, no matter what your plan might be, as a world-traveller you’ll surely not gonna follow it, open for changes as you are.

2. You give up the most important things in your life back home. If you even know what back-home is. It’s very common that the world-traveller did not have a steady base even before starting to travel. He certainly don’t have a job to go back to  and the thought of owning or renting an apartment could certainly keep this traveller on the road forever.

3.  You don’t know how long you’re gonna travel. You might travel for a year (which is a minimum to able to call yourself a world-traveller) or you might go on for many years. Or like this family I run into: he and she was traveling, they met along the way, they traveled together and they got their kids along the way. They never stopped traveling and they are now continuing to do it with their kids (which by the way seem to enjoy it a lot).

The world traveller is trying to avoid back-packer and tourist places and rather go to local places, hang-outs and restaurants. He/ she gets to know the local people in the village very quickly and is adjusting to the countries culture in a few days. Always stays in the cheapest accommodation and you can see by their outfit that they haven’t been home for a long time. Some of them walks bare-foot : ) The world-traveller don’t follow books or LP for the travels. He/ she relies on picking up and sharing information with other travelers they meet along the way. Of course, they always get the help from local people and are not afraid to ask around till they find what they want. They prefer to stay in a place for a little longer to really get into the culture. Some of them might be having some kind of free-lancing job to be able to travel, or they work with the locals or even volunteer work every now and then to share their knowledge with the locals. Travelers are in general not very afraid even though they run in to difficulties very often. They mostly travel by train and bus or any other local transportation, only by flight when they really have to. They are most probably vegetarians or vegans and very green and environment conscious. The men is always with a beard and the female travelers always seem to have long hair. Stress is something they only read about in books. They seem to have all the time in the world and they love to have long conversations about life, love, happiness and traveling in cafes over a few cups of chai. Last but not least, the traveler is accepting the new place as it is and is not trying to change it. He/ she realize the difference between west and east and continues to travels because the love for the difference, the curiosity for new places and their love for bucket-showers.

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