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Tourism Versus Travel – And My Struggle to Not be a Jerk

Your backpack can be your best friend - or your worst enemy.

I like beautiful destinations – but I work for them.

One of my ongoing travel problems is getting off my high horse – especially about types of travel. This writer seems to go through the same struggle:

When choosing your destination, you need to decide: are you traveling for leisure or culture? I define leisure travel as relaxed and quite a bit like home, but with either service or beauty influencing the destination (ex. beach, cruise, resort, etc). Cultural travel (my kind of travel) is where you set off in hopes to learn, truly experience and open yourself up to a whole new culture and way of life. If you’ve chosen leisure, unfortunately I will have to stop you here, because I don’t think I’ll have much to offer you as far as travel tips that you can’t easily find on some corporate-owned, high-dollar, travel website. While leisure travel is fine and there’s nothing wrong with it, I don’t have much experience sitting on my ass while locals wait on me, so I can’t really pretend to be an authority on the subject. (Emphasis mine)

“Beauty of the destination” is a huge influence on my travel destinations. You could say that Brandon argues that traveling for a destination’s beauty is inherently less valid than traveling to visit a bunch of historic museums. Or that a beach always has more intrinsic eye-candy value than a lava field. But I don’t think that’s what he means. I think he’s traveled enough that he realizes reaching beautiful destinations can involve serious work.

flam norway

Cruises are not really my bag. But … I could be kinder to those who like them.

I think he just didn’t thrust the point home all the way. What I read is that he grapples with the same thoughts about “travelers” versus “tourists” that make me act like a jerk sometimes. I’ve lost count of how many cruise ship passengers and “guided-from-arrival gate-to-wheels up” tour groups I’ve snickered at when I travel.

And I have to stop that. The travel industry is symbiotic: Every traveler of every type is part of a network that creates opportunities for us all to find the experience we seek. I’m glad not everyone wants to eat boiled silkworm larvae; watch a soccer game in a driving Icelandic rain; camp north of the Arctic Circle; or swim into a cave filled with human sacrificial remains. It would get awfully crowded, wouldn’t it?

There are people who just want to escape, clear their mind, recharge their batteries. A beach isn’t a travel destination that will make me happy. But others find solace and renewal in the sand. I get it. The way I travel can be arduous, and I understand why a glacier, a volcano or a cave isn’t a destination for everyone. And I grok why some might want a different dose.

I have no lofty goal when I travel. I just want to do something cool, something different from my everyday life. Call it whatever you choose. No matter what label you tag on me, I’ll enjoy myself doing what I like. You do the same, OK?

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2 thoughts on “Tourism Versus Travel – And My Struggle to Not be a Jerk

  1. Stress N. Strain (@stressnstrain)

    Interesting that the writer you linked to assumes that “leisure” means “sitting on your ass.” I wouldn’t consider my upcoming trip to Montana to be particularly cultural–I’m not exactly going so I can immerse myself in the cultural norms of the native Montanans–but I’ll be doing just about everything *but* sitting on my ass. He sounds like one of the sanctimonious Peace Corps, “we have much to learn from them” types.

    I don’t care for the big organized tours or cruises myself. Too much like being on the outside of an aquarium looking in. But to each his own.

  2. WanderingJustin

    Yeah. It’s all a definition of leisure, I guess … which to me just means not being at work!

    The quote does come off a bit sanctimonious – but I’m gonna give him some benefit of the doubt and just assume he was a bit haphazard in his word choice. I know I’ve come across that way a time or two! Good to hear from ya.

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