Why I’m Sick Of The Tourist Vs Traveller Debate!

Earlier today I was browsing through my timeline on Facebook, as you do.

All was well, people were looking happy, a baby had been born, people were posting pictures from exotic places. I saw an engagement and then suddenly I saw something that left me feeling a little miffed if I’m being honest.

Some girl in one of my travel groups posted a cute little picture from Rome along with words about how she’s a traveller because she likes to sit and have a coffee and take in a place, but her Dad is a tourist because he likes to get into the crowds and take pictures of things, and god forbid, he also likes to stop and read plaques and stuff.

giphy (1)


Am I missing something here?

What does that even mean?

So if I get all up in a cities junk and take pictures of stuff does that make me a tourist? 

What about the times that I sit down in busy square’s having a coffee *cough* beer whilst I listen to all of the different languages surrounding me? Does that make me a traveller?

giphy (2)

Let’s take a closer look at this; because maybe I’m just being a dumb dumb, and I’m missing something that the rest of the world gets and are just sitting there rolling their eyes at me whilst I try my very bestest to decipher the difference between the two.


  1. A person who is travelling, especially for pleasure.


  1. A person who travels or has travelled in distant places or foreign lands.


So what I’m getting here is that a traveller is a traveller because they go further afield whilst a tourist sounds like the altogether happier version of the two?

Well slap me with a selfie stick and call me a tourist please!


Okay I’ll change the tune from sarcastic for a minute because I can pretty much hear my mum’s voice in my head as I write this – ‘Two wrongs don’t make a right Elizabeth, stop being sarcastic’. (Now go back and read that in a Welsh accent because my mum’s adorable and Welsh).

I think the bit that really irked me about that whole post was the shaming of this girls Dad. When she finished her post with something like ‘I just really wanted to enjoy this.’ WHAT DO YOU MEAN GIRL?! You’re away with your awesome Dad that wants to travel with you to a new City and is so overexcited that he wants to run head first into the crowds to take pictures of everything to remember his trip.

– It’s probably because he’s away with his daughter that he wants to remember is so much.

Can we please just drop this millennial pretentious bullshit for one second and not make the man feel like crap because he is a tourist rather than the traveller that you want him to be?

Because if you ask me, there should be no real difference between a tourist and a traveller. People have different travel styles, and different things that really tickle them when they’re abroad, so what gives the Elitest movement that are ‘travellers’ the right to quickly disregard and label someone as a ‘tourist’?

giphy (3)

I really do try and bite my tongue when someone has a way of phrasing things the way that I wouldn’t personally, but when it comes to the point that you’re even looking down on one of your parents because they’re not cultured enough, don’t speak enough languages or take too long taking pictures of a landmark that they’ve probably dreamed of seeing in person for longer than you’ve been alive; it really is time to stop.

If you’re that person that lists off all the countries that you’e visited and why you’re a better traveller than I am in a Hostel then I really don’t care. In fact, you’re probably right.

But damn well stop when it comes to putting your parents down. Our parents didn’t have the same opportunities that we’ve had to travel. They didn’t have cheap airlines like we do now, and they didn’t have as many opportunities like travel blogging, TEFLing or even staying at different farms like we do.

Let them run free and take as many pictures as they please, tell them how amazing they are for doing so and stand there losing your shit with them.

giphy (4)

Please just stop encouraging people to travel just to look down on them because it’s not the same way that you choose to do it.

Doing that doesn’t make you a traveller, it makes you an asshole.

Yours sincerely,

Someone that loves to take shit loads of pictures during City breaks.

Someone that loves to travel slowly and spend as much time as she can getting to know a place and the people.

Someone that will go to an Irish pub just to have sausage and mash because she has missed eating it since living in Madrid.

Someone who will move to Madrid and live with a family to help with learning the language.






29 responses to Why I’m Sick Of The Tourist Vs Traveller Debate!

  1. Sergio M says:

    Pretty agree with this Elizabeth! I started feeling like a traveller at the beginning of the trip, but as time passes I feel more and more like tourist (I sometimes eat in western restaurants in Asia 😮 )


  2. A-freaking-men. I have no shame, snapping photos of the Eiffel Tower every time it appears within view – every time I’m in Paris. And I’ve lived in London for 10 years and still stare at Big Ben in awe. I’d rather be a tourist than a try-hard not appreciating beautiful places and experiences for what they are.


  3. backpackingdetours says:

    I totally get what you mean. I think we all are at different stages of traveling at different times in our lives. We don’t start out as seasoned world travelers. And, I am happy in a hostel one night and a five star hotel the next.


  4. Sheena Benedicta says:

    Perfectly written. You had me at splits with your satire. I got to agree, it’s pretty silly. I love to do the non conventional things but also looooveeee clicking pictures or checking out some popular touristy spots. How can one be a true traveller if he hasn’t tried it all???
    Thanks for the great post!


  5. Lana Pajdas says:

    I’m a traveler because when I depart, I start feeling freedom. I think that the usual perception of “tourist” is a person who feels worried about problems that may occur during the trips. But we should not judge them – we all feel nervous when we go beyond the frontier we had before – like me when, as a girl from a Southern European country, I first time went to Lapland-Arctic during the polar night or when I first time went to the US. Maybe traveler is an experienced tourist? I don’t know.

    I was judged by some people for promoting museums. “But why are you talking about these closed, artificial places, while there are so many beautiful things outside, on fresh air?”. Okay, and what if people want to learn something, have fun, or maybe hide from the rain? 😀


  6. Julian says:

    Haha,yes, totally agree on this, I also see how it gets people into debates…but we shouldn’t judge or categorize, people have different ways of experiencing places. What separates the two, I think, is TIME. Thanks for posting, good to get some thinking going on 🙂


  7. Gem says:

    I think people see tourists as people who go to places strictly for pleasure and don’t do much…like sitting by the pool all day, tanning with a phone in hand, and drinking martinis.

    A traveler is seen more as an explorer…like they go outdoors, hike, get lost, eat street food, and meet people.

    I am not sure how this whole thing started. I guess I see myself as both. I love traveling, hiking, exploring, and getting dirty. At the same time, I love going back to my nice hotel for a night swim and enjoy a massage or two.

    Good point!


  8. kittytocity says:

    Haha, love this! Why do we have to label ourselves as “travelers” or “tourists”? Call me whatever, I am going to keep taking a ton of pictures, I may even eat at a McDonald’s, and I am going to take in the culture and learn something new.


  9. Bec says:

    I’m tired of the debate too. Everyone travels differently. Sometimes the way we travel ourselves changes depending on our circumstances. It’s all in shades of grey, and the important thing is not whether we’re travellers or tourists but how we respect the local culture, the environment and how we interact with people, including others travelling. Making sure it’s positive.Take as many photos as you want, but watch that selfie stick doesn’t take someone’s eye out, and ask permission before snapping pics of locals. I think the word “tourist” gets a bad rap because of those few that forget they are not the centre of universe.


  10. Tami says:

    I personally think it’s a shame if someone just sits instead of getting up and seeing as much as possible. Being able to travel is such a gift and a blessing, it should never be taken for granted. See as much as you can, take as many photos as you want so you can have memories to look back on, and learn and discover as much as you can!


  11. I agree with Gem. They are two different things but there’s no shame in being one or both of them – unless you act a fool toward locals because they don’t speak your language or something (this is the reason why many probably prefer to distinguish themselves as a non-tourist). Also, etymologically a “tourist” is someone on a tour while a “traveler” is generally one who travels to places and maybe stays there for a while and learns the culture/customs. Of course, as I’m sure we all agree, being a “tourist” is generally not a bad thing as it can be fun to wander around or hop on a tour bus – even in your own neighborhood!


  12. I don’t partake in the debate because it’s similar to how two people will pronounce “tomato” two different ways. It’s the exact same fruit but pronounced differently based on accent and preference lol. And, depending who I travel with, I can be the tourist or the traveler. Two sides of the same coin 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I think it’s a continuum. I like traveling slowly because you can adjust your goals for each location. Some places, I immerse myself deeply. Others, I find cafes and concentrate on work. Still others, I do what’s in the guidebook.


  14. Matt Hulland says:

    Hahaha, sounds like someone hit a nerve, nothing like a good rant to clear the system. Personally, I disagree with that girls definition of a tourist and traveller, although I have my own difference. I’ve always considered a tourist to be someone on a holiday, a weekend break or a couple of weeks there and a traveller as someone on a much longer trip taking in multiple destinations. What they do on their tour or trip doesn’t matter, but where I see the major difference is budget. Tourist buy souvenirs, travellers can’t afford to and if they do they don;t have space for them! But that’s just my opinion!


  15. Unimpressed. says:

    You took this girl’s words out of context and twisted it to make yourself sound witty. Honey, you sound like a mean girl. She considers her dad a tourist because he likes touristy things while crowds give her anxiety so she tends to shy away from them. She was asking for tips on how to merge her travel style with her dad’s so they could both experience things together. She never once hated on her father, but you certainly took the time out of your life to hate on her. Next time, read deeper and have a little more understanding about where people are coming from before you use them in your next sarcastic tirade about travel.


    • Dear Unimpressed,

      I ummed and ahhed about whether to approve your comment on here and to reply to it, as I believe you’re the same person that has blocked me on Facebook to write about me so that I can’t see it?

      But then I believe in freedom of speech, which is why I allowed your comment here.

      You speak of how I am taking time out of my life to hate on a girl, when actually I took time out of my life to hate on a mentality that hates on others and puts people down so frequently.

      But you’re in fact taking time out of your life to be personal and hate on me in a way that I can neither respond nor see – your whole basis of complaint is that I have left someone feeling victimised and attacked, but this is what you are doing to me right now by not allowing me to respond to your accusations.

      I respect the fact that you’re sticking up for someone. Best believe I would be doing exactly the same thing if I saw someone using examples from what someone I cared about had said. BUT I do not respect that you’re writing on here anonymously and in public forums ensuring that I am blocked and cannot respond.

      I have written to the girl in question privately and apologised because while I do stand by everything I’ve said, I DO NOT stand by victimising someone and making them feel like crap.

      Maybe take your own advice. If you wish to have a discussion then feel free to email me on fromeuropeandbeyond@hotmail.com


  16. Such a thoughtful (and entertaining!) post. This is so true, I feel like there are a lot of different articles written just about the different styles of traveling and why one way is better than another. In my opinion, whatever you enjoy doing the most is the BEST way to travel. Whether its stopping to take pictures, going really slowly reading your brochure or following along with a tour guide, whatever will give YOU the best experience – THAT’S what you should do!


  17. World By Isa says:

    I find this kind of debate sooo unecessary, I dont see how one kind of travel is better than the other, a traveller is not better than a tourist nor vice versa, each person enjoys a travel in a different way and in the way they feel more comfortable to.

    To be honest, I consider myself as a traveller, but I love to read plaques, I take the most cliche pics (pushing Pisa tower, love this one), anyways I take pic of every single thing, even of the floor (I’m serious about this one), I go full fangirl at the simplest things and I guess what, I bought a selfie stick, no regrets.


  18. neha says:

    I got to be totally in agreement with you. Even I can’t understand what is there to debate on. Some call themselves tourists others call themselves travelers and somewhere definitely both of these overlap


  19. Joanna says:

    I think that this debate started with backpackers and their style of traveling. Same as Isa, I find this debate unnecessary and boring. We all have different travel styles, we all may backpack one trip while take a tour in another one, we all maybe in one trip with friends take photos and fool around and in another trip do local things.


  20. Léonor says:

    I completely agree with you. I am also quite tired of people being proud of themselves for being “travellers” and taking by the same time the opportunity to look down on people they consider “tourist”. Whatever the way we call ourselves, the most important thing when we travel is to enjoy the place the way we most enjoy it, be it by drinking coffee (or a beer ahah) or by visiting a museum. I honestly don’t see how any kind of activity would make a travel less worth it.
    I personally love wandering around and enjoying the atmosphere of a city as locals do, but I think we would miss quite a lot of what a city has to offer if we only sat and drank without wanting to get closer to the monuments and sights of the city. Although that’s only my opinion, of course.
    However, the whole problem in the girl’s story is also about being able to travel with someone. I read a few articles about travel companions recently, and the least we can say is that travelling with someone is great but it also often calls for compromises.


  21. smilesfromabroad says:

    Oooooh i love this so much!! There is a damn good reason why some places are tourist places – mostly because an architect built something amazing or it’s an historical place. i’ll never understand why people would skip this, just to not be the tourist…? 😂
    I already wanted to write a similar blogpost, I just talked to a friend about this topic a few weeks ago (she sent me the link to your blogpost)


  22. I agree with you to a 100%! It’s getting to big of a deal, trying to categorize everything and everyone, counting points to see who’s better, brighter and smarter. Just no. Ugh, makes me sick!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s