Dear tourist, please man up and learn how to travel.

Hook Island Whitsundays

Are you one of those who think travelling is expensive? You can’t take time off for trips overseas and keep dreaming that one day you’ll do it. Maybe next year, maybe after the kids are out of the house, maybe when you’re retired? I have had that conversation hundreds of times:

“I envy you for being able to take time off and to go by yourself, that’s brave! I wish I could do that. I should have done that when I was younger.”

“So why don’t you do it?”

“I haven’t got the time and money. On holidays I like to relax and enjoy the sun at the beach, go out to restaurants and take day trips. I wouldn’t like to go by myself. Anyway, on my holidays I don’t want to share a house with strangers.”

I usually stop here and think, ‘well, that’s a tourist, not a traveller’

That used to confuse me, because what they mean is NOT getting to know a new place, country or mentality. To me, that’s NOT travelling. That’s taking their own habits and way of life to a different surrounding with more sun. That’s like eating at Burger King in Singapore.

Following a survey initiated by the European Commission almost two thirds of Europeans book package holidays. I guess that’s because most of us are too busy working on our careers and too tired to take risks when all we want is to relax at the beach? What is it guys, where is your sense of adventure and wanting to explore life? Do you really want to be a tourist staying in hotels and restaurants that no locals would ever choose to go to and where there is no love in what they do? Does following the crowds at beaches and tourist sights appeal to you where you are just one of too many? If you just want to “consume your destination” why bother and not just stay at the local spa?

We are taking on tourist habits that are “iterative and no longer connected to the essence” of a particular place. The documentary “Bye Bye Barcelona” describes very well the possible negative impacts of modern tourism and at the end it also touches on the difference between a tourist, a traveller and a voyager: A tourist books the package itinerary from a travel agent; a traveller allows for some freedom and improvisation when planning a trip; and a voyager seeks genuine, authentic and unique experiences. Who do you want to be?

Walk the side streets.

Try local food where locals eat.

Mix and adapt to local customs.

Learn their language or at least a few words to get by.

Stay off the beaten tourist track.

In the end being a tourist often just helps the hotel chain owners to cash in without supporting the locals. And there are so many accessible, yet even almost free of charge possibilities to venture on your holidays while meeting locals and learning about their way of life. If you are ready to give, you could even learn something new and start to think out of the box! That shouldn’t scare you. Watch out for my next posts on HelpX, a great way to experience your travels!


I have been a traveller and expat for over 15 years. So far my nomad lifestyle has allowed me to live and work in seven countries including the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Australia. Moving country, studying abroad and a passion for travel has been part of most of my adult life.

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