I Love Tourists

…but not touts.

I still haven’t had time to look through my Krakow photos. But when I think back to my first impressions of the town (since first impressions are all you really have time for during a weekend trip), the word touristy comes to mind. I had a really fun time there actually, but the town itself didn’t immediately blow me away.

Yes, I’ve shyly ventured into the realm of opinionated blog posts.

We chose to go to Krakow, of all places, quite randomly – I’ll admit it had never been on my list. Before our trip, I read some blog posts on Krakow, admired the photos and thought the Old Town must be so atmospheric. (I had also read that Kazimierz, the Old Jewish Quarter, was worth visiting. More about that in later posts.)

Nowhere did I read how touristy the Old Town was, however. Or maybe I just wasn’t paying attention. Why does it seem that Old Town areas everywhere are full of aggressive hustlers selling tours?

Krakow was no different, and I should have seen it coming. I was blind-sighted by the fact that we were visiting Poland for the first time and it seemed exotic.

Instead of atmospheric in a casual, real-life way, there were a dozen horse wagons in a row, with young ladies dressed up medieval style calling passers-by to ride with them. The driver was always male, the girl was decoration, it seemed.

There were tour touters, and rows of restaurants catering to large groups. I couldn’t tell if they were really in the business of offering culinary experiences, or rip-offs aimed at tourists who didn’t know where else to go. Some of the groups appeared to be locals (I later heard from Pooja that domestic tourism is popular in Krakow).

This is where I have mixed feelings. There’s nothing wrong with taking a tour in a rickshaw or miniature train or horse wagon. Who knows, I might even do it myself some day, if my feet hurt, my kids beg me to, or if I suddenly see the humor in it. I don’t want to judge people who choose these activities. There are a thousand ways to travel and tour, and they are all equally good.

But I don’t like the apparent attitude of some of these pushers. Not just in Krakow but anywhere, everywhere. The mentality that a visitor, a guest in your country (or town), is in fact just a walking wallet and also a silly doofus with funny tastes in life. It just seems so disrespectful to me, to us tourists and travelers.

Yes, I know you can’t judge a book by its cover. Some of these touts may have a heart of pure gold if you get to know them. Again, I’m talking of my personal first impressions. You know what I mean.

Krakow, June 2018

I used to work in the travel industry but that was completely different from this kind of tourism work – if you can even call it that. This touting kind of approach to tourism makes my head spin because I always loved the industry and meeting like-minded co-workers, I was inspired by the atmosphere of an airport or an airplane.

My former jobs in sales and customer service seem so naive in comparison to the Italian shopkeeper charging tourists extra, the Parisian taxi driver taking the long route, and the Spanish tour guide following people around on the streets armed with maps, right next to the beggar with the flower gift that they will ask 20 euros for while video-chatting on an iPhone. Mass tourism comes with a price.

I do understand that not everyone is fortunate enough to travel and to them, we who do must seem wealthy (even if it’s a business trip, for a funeral, or something else that isn’t actually fun leisure travel). But I also believe in creating your own opportunities.

I wanted to travel when I was young, so I learned some language skills and applied for airline work. Nobody handed me those jobs on a silver plate. I went out and pursued them, while studying for my degree at the same time, and it took some hard work to get what I wanted. We create our own luck. It’s not always easy and no one said it would be. But you are the master of your own existence. To an extent – we can’t control everything, but some things we can.

Thinking about how different my work in tourism felt compared to these services also aimed at tourists… this brings me to another topic that’s been floating around in my mind. Tourists vs travelers. What do you think about the distinction?

I’ve noticed a trend of bloggers separating travelers from tourists in their posts, maybe just because they have nothing else to write about, or maybe because they genuinely have an opinion on the subject. This trend invariably involves the authors considering themselves to be travelers, whilst looking down on those they call tourists. The bloggers tend to be quite young.

This division is interesting. I know there isn’t anything new about it, there were plenty of famous quotes already driving a distinction between the two categories way before social media. I am deliberately not going to quote any of them here. I am surely taking all this too seriously, but whenever I hear someone say something like, “Be a traveler, not a tourist” I get annoyed. Let me tell you why.

The problem for me is that one of them is always said in a derogatory tone, and the other one not.

What’s wrong with being a tourist, anyway? What is the difference between the two? Why is the person speaking always a traveler; what makes him a traveler and not a tourist?

In travel industry jargon, everyone was simply called “a passenger”.

We dealt with dozens of different types of passengers each day.

Business, leisure, solo, couples, groups, seniors, families, unaccompanied minors, crew members, police escorts. The ones with backpacks and the other kind with four fancy suitcases for just a weekend trip. Those with no luggage at all. Those with pets. Those with infants. Those who live in another country than their family. Those in need of medical assistance. Those who are fine but then get sick on the plane. Those that get drunk on the plane. Those who are afraid of flying. Those who fly so much they are never at home. The list could go on and on.

For the sake of argument, let’s only look at air travel. All these people use the same services. They all go through security control, maybe passport control depending on the countries involved, they have some spare time at the airport and have a coffee. They sit on the plane and use its services. At the destination, they need transportation, accommodation, food, the activities they came for. Everyone basically uses the same services no matter if they are on a business trip or a beach holiday or backpacking while blogging.

Krakow airport

So why are some of these people looked down upon and called “tourists” as if it were a four letter word? Tourist, that horrible word!

Is it because of their choice of travel agent? But even the coolest websites where independent travelers can buy their self-tailored tickets are still travel agents. 

Is it because of their choice of destination? But even in the most touristy destinations, there are people who call that place home. There is real life there, too.

Is it because of what they plan to do, or perhaps how they plan to do it? But how do these things differ from what the “traveler” does? Who decides which activities are okay and which aren’t? Is it about appearing cool, like we were in high school all over again?

Is it because they think that tourists are people who won’t leave the hotel area to explore the destination? But so what if that’s what someone wants to do on their highly awaited holiday. Maybe they just need a break somewhere different from home. (Warmer, perhaps?)

Is it because tourists might stay at an all-inclusive hotel which is somehow worse than staying at a hostel or an Airbnb? Hotels pay taxes and contribute to society that way, which Airbnb hosts don’t do. And even hostels are businesses.

Maybe the people staying at resorts and fancy hotels need it – the pampering, a few days of easy living – or maybe they simply got a good deal at that particular accommodation. How does it really differ from the backpacker who goes to a restaurant in a popular street where the restaurant owners mainly serve foreigners anyway?

Some travel bloggers seem to draw the line between travelers and tourists at whether you immerse yourself in the local culture or not. I agree that’s a great way to travel… but do you mean that all introverts are by default tourists?

One blog post I read a while ago went even further by stating that tourists have no regard for the environment (which is quite a stretch), and that they aren’t educated in their destination, just wanting generic experiences that they could have anywhere. And also that the companies the tourists use aren’t responsible.

My reaction to that is that most large companies these days don’t have the choice to not be responsible and that applies for companies in the travel industry, too. As for generic experiences… I agree that if you stay at a resort, it could be anywhere. That’s never been my style of traveling, but I could well imagine myself doing that in the future with our kids.

There’s a time and place for everything, and there may come a time in life where a generic experience of relaxation is all you want. History lessons and museum visits are enlightening but not always relaxing.

Personally, I’ve never understood the need to categorize and to judge other people’s traveling style or reasons. We are all different, and we go through different phases in life. Our travels evolve, too.

And that’s why I like how democratic the term passenger is. Nobody cares if you’re a seasoned traveler or a young newbie, or whether you have a popular blog or how many Instagram followers you have. You’re a human being, just like everyone else at the airport, on the plane, at the hotel.

To the locals, we are all tourists anyway. Even those who travel for work.

The slow-paced elderly couple on the chartered holiday flight might have traveled to 100 countries in their time, how would you know?

Maybe the quiet girl in the corner is on her very first trip abroad, but so what – we all start somewhere. The guy in the dorky tourist outfit might be the sweetest, gentlest guy on earth and totally excited to be traveling. The woman who was so confused that she couldn’t even find her seat might be on the way to the hospital, and so distraught that she’s not thinking straight.

Please don’t judge a book by its cover and please don’t label people as good or bad. Please don’t think that all tourists are silly doofuses or that they all want to do the same things on their travels.

We each have different priorities, resources and backgrounds leading to the choices we make. In a different moment in life, even the travel blogger who proclaimed he was not a tourist might make a touristy decision – and the touter on the street might end up taking a tour somewhere himself (and getting ripped off when they return his change at the restaurant the tour operator’s friend runs).

There are as many ways to travel as there are reasons to. None of them are better or worse than others. I even remember a time when not everyone wanted to travel in the first place, when it wasn’t the mainstream dream it is now. Is social media to blame?

This post wasn’t really about Krakow, which I liked and enjoyed visiting, and which I will be posting about later. These phenomena are quite global. I guess I was looking for something real, something authentic. Does that even exist anymore?

Luckily, I’d say there are still spots in the world where a visitor is left alone for some good old exploring of real places and real life, like my quiet hometown Helsinki.

Until one day, when it goes viral on Instagram!

73 responses to “I Love Tourists

  1. You hit on a lot here. I travel a lot and go back and forth about what I think about other travelers, but I try not to be judgemental (or stop when I catch myself being that way) because honestly, my opinion of how someone else chooses to experience something is of no importance.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Snow, your writing flows off the page and is a joy to read. I don’t understand why people trivialise about the distinctions between travellers and tourists. As you say, everyone is different and shouldn’t be looked down upon for spending their hard earned holidays doing whatever they wish. I write about my travels because I enjoy doing so and to have a record of events to look back on in the future. I hope my posts inspire readers to visit some of the places I’ve been to but I would never say things like you must go there or you have to do that or that place is too touristy. People should be allowed to make up their own minds. Changing the subject, have your gorgeous twins celebrated their first birthday yet? I’m certain you have adored every minute of their first year! Marion

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks Marion, and the little boys say hi to you – they just turned one! We had a little birthday party with a strawberry cream cake (for the guests) and party hats, which the birthday boys refused to wear 💕😁
      Also, thanks for reading this very long post!! I try not to write anything negative about places I’ve been to because my experiences are subjective after all. But also I’d like to be frank, not make it all seem glittery and shiny like on Instagram. It’s a fine line to walk!
      Your posts are lovely, detailed and informative – like a guide book but better because they are personal! Keep writing 🙂 I’m a bit behind at catching up with the blogs I follow, real life has taken over and that’s a good thing! Two little toddlers keep me busy. But I’ll be popping over to your blog soon!
      Enjoy your day! xxx

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Wow, this is a very interesting post!! I think the difference between travellers and tourists are those “influencers” trying to make a living of travelling… hahaha and that’s all!! Or this is what I see on social networks and blogs when I do a bit of research before visiting a new place… 16 years old guys calling themselves travellers on Instagram and asking for a crowdfund to pay for their travels and camera gear…
    And yes, what an horrible experience is visiting a city and get harassed by those waiters in touristic restaurants, souvenir shops occupying every single shop in the city center and the tour sellers…… I have actually two bad experiences with those: when I was living in Stockholm, I was harassed by those waiters every single day I walked in Gamla Stan (ok, I’m Spanish, but after two years I got sick and tired of that!! It’s not like I was carrying a camera every single day I walked in the Old City!!!) and in New York, when a guy tried to rent us a bike, a horse carriage or something and when he heard us speaking in Spanish he said: “ok, you are Spanish and poor because of the crisis and you can’t afford to rent a bike”…. WHAAAT?!?!? I think this is one of the reasons I love Switzerland so much…. This kind of tourist industry is not that big (it exists, of course, but not at Stockholm, Madrid or Barcelona levels) and you can enjoy exploring the cities and the country at your way 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Mercedes, for taking the time! 🙂
      I know what you mean, when I lived in Paris for a couple of years, I always got approached (several times a day, every day) and people assumed I was a tourist. They would always speak to me in English, too, even though my French was usually better than their English and I would have loved to have practiced my French, that’s why I was there after all!
      Krakow Old Town reminded me of Stockholm actually (and Tallinn), the buildings looked very similar too.
      I’m not saying it was totally horrible, but it was just such a surprise… not at all what I expected! Where does the line go, I wonder… when is it too much??
      Also, I liked your definition for traveler vs tourist – I hadn’t thought of it that way but maybe you’re right!! So many of them are ridiculously young, too. I mean it’s great that they are into traveling, but acting as an expert is another thing. And crowdfunding… it feels a bit like begging doesn’t it? So weird that it’s so popular. Or maybe not weird at all, come to think of it…
      Thanks for the chat! 🙂


    • Exactly! If I want to try a horse ride, I will certainly approach them myself, thank you very much! 😀 Also, I feel like they are judging my appearance somehow when approaching me.
      An explorer, yes, that sounds way better! 😉 I’d love to be a female Indiana Jones… but truth be told, I’m really not quite as adventurous! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s some food for thought! I’m afraid I was guilty of making the distinction myself a couple of times, trying to convince people to see and experience more, or what I thought was more, but you are right. We all have our reasons and ways to travel, and I am sure as hell guilty of doing some pretty touristy things myself 🙂 less judgements, more allowing people to do whatever they feel most comfortable doing, I guess. And as an introvert, I did really feel weird every time about that advice of immersing into the local culture. So, I mostly just observed 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I like your very honest take on this. We shouldn’t judge others based on our own short sighted opinions.

    Your post reminded me of an incident I had I in Thailand long ago. I was visiting one of those silk handicraft workshop/factories in Bangkok and wanted to buy 1 of the handcrafted souvenirs. Another traveller (a New Zealander if I remember correctly) saw me paying for it without bargaining. He came over to me asked where I was from, I said Singapore, and he walked away commenting “of course it had to be a rich Singaporean who doesn’t bargain”. I was really offended but didn’t want to make a scene by smacking him on the head. To me, the souvenir only cost USD1 at most, how much would it really benefit me to bargain that down to less than USD1? Given the time then was the Asian Financial crisis and the people in Thailand were really suffering from the massive devaluation of their currency.

    Liked by 3 people

    • That’s an interesting story, Edwin! And so telling. I never bargained in Thailand either, I would have felt really cheap doing that – also, I just don’t like to haggle! How rude making a comment like that anyway!!
      Thanks for sharing the story and of course reading this lengthy post in the first place 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know bargaining is expected in most under develop countries. But I think we should have a perspective on the situation. If it’s an expensive item then by all means bargain down the price. But if it’s already $1~2 then what’s the point of bargaining if only to feel good.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Exactly, I agree with you! Also, I think it should be okay to just pay the full price if you want. I mean, why not? On my first visit to Asia, I went to Shanghai alone and was told how you were supposed to bargain. I tried it and it was horribly difficult. I ended up feeling cheated though the prices were extremely low for someone from a Nordic country. It was the experience which wasn’t to my liking. I should have just gone there and bought the stuff instead of trying to act like a local. Which everyone could see I was not! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for an interesting read! And for teaching me a new word: touters. Never heard of it before. Every time I see them in action, I cringe and run away. I HATE to be approached this way, or by sellers of anything at all. That’s why I have never visited any country where their pushiness outweighs the nature or culture.

    I watch sellers of roses in Rome. How when it starts to rain they immediately turn into sellers of umbrellas. How a local does away with them: a stern wagging finger from afar to say No. Not interested. End of debate.

    I hate how I suspect somebody wants to either rob or simply trick me into something on every corner. And I haven’t even been to Naples yet. How I count the returned change carefully, since 1 out of 2 it’s wrong. Really wrong. (Ok, ok, that was my first impression of Rome after I got tricked a few times. Now it’s better since I’ve got a bit of an attitude of a local.)

    Most of all I’m grateful to you for the reminder to keep an open mind and heart when strolling around Ljubljana, my birthtown, again in a week. Last year I was extremely disappointed at the generic feel of it. And the hamburger joints. Ohhhh man, so many hamburger joints. And this used to be the land of čevapčiči.

    If you are neither a tourist nor a traveller but a visiting expat who doesn’t like change, it’s bad.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I guess there are many words for people of that trade, also there are many ways to do it. And you taught me čevapčiči, which I had to look up just now 🙂
      Hamburger joints… well, I don’t mind seeing globalized companies in my home town (it would be a boring place otherwise), but when I travel I’d like to see some local color. In Krakow, I had coffee from Starbucks because the choice was either that or the touristy restaurants I mentioned, which I really couldn’t figure out if they were for real. If I’d seen a cozy local cafeteria, I’d have gone there. But many buildings were completely run down – over here they would have been demolished already if they were in that state. A weekend is too short a time to discover everything, anyway – and I don’t mind, I like the “flat white” at Starbucks 🙂 Globalization and all. It’s a tricky topic.
      I also learnt how locals dealt with people approaching you in France, mostly ignoring them, and it felt kind of rude but I ended up doing it too. It didn’t help though, they still approached me. Of course there were the friendly neighborhood bonjours, too. Some attention you want, and some you don’t. Tricky stuff this too.
      I was warned about Naples but it didn’t seem much worse than Rome when I visited (15 years ago! Wow time flies). Wasn’t a big fan though, Naples looked very dirty to me. Always loved North Italy more than Rome, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t know where to begin … I ponder these same ideas often lately, both for myself and for the world in general. Having traveled now for decades, long before social media and (consequently?) long before everyone seemed to travel, I lament what is happening in so many places in the world. Touts, tricksters, overcrowding and damage, kitschy cultural displays, inappropriate behavior, commercialization, exploitation of local people, etc. You can see that I’ve “blamed” both sides of the tourism equation – both the visitors and the visited.

    But when I get on my blame high horse, I start to question my own role in all this. Haven’t I added to some of the problems? Why am I allowed to travel and expect to see real life in all these places and others are just taking advantage? Why do I sneer at the guy in white tennis shoes following the flag-waving tour guide into a giant restaurant on the main plaza when it could be his very first time in X city and he wants to soak it all in within his comfort zone? And why do I look down upon a local entrepreneur who has correctly identified what many visitors to his city would like – easy access to the local culture, stereotypical or not?

    Lately, when my fellow travelers say that something we are about to do is “so touristy,” I remind them that at the root of things, we ARE tourists, for good and for bad, anytime we step foot in another country or region. I like your use of the world “passenger,” and I often use the word “visitor” myself. It seems less freighted with meaning, neither derogatory nor pompous. And I’m well aware that neither of those words used to, or should, have these connotations!

    I have no sage conclusions. But I hope Kazimierz felt a little better (I enjoyed it much more than the big square myself!) and that your weekend escape was still a good thing to have done!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Lexi for your thoughts! I share so many of them (as usual!)
      First of all, “kitschy cultural displays” are something I try to avoid. It’s a shame that the very act of displaying them makes me not want to see them. I wonder at the psychology behind my reaction. It just seems so fake – but if I saw the same thing in a museum I’d look at it. And it would probably be a replica anyway.
      I guess it’s the idea of forcing these things down my throat. History and culture are important, but I’m also interested in modern culture, street fashion, everyday life, the items sold in a grocery store, what the school buildings look like, people-watching in cafes, and so on. Just because I’m a foreigner doesn’t mean I want the exact same experience as another foreigner would want, we are individuals. It’s the assumption that if you travel you must be easy to trick that annoys me, for obvious reasons.
      We are all to “blame”. Maybe Mr Zuckerberg slightly more than the rest of us since he’s probably the one who started all this social media craze 😉
      I too remember what traveling was like in the good old days pre-social media. You went somewhere and saw a real town with real people and real restaurants. For cultural displays etc, you sought them out. I saw the David sculpture without pre-reservations, just walked in. (Okay, maybe I queued a little first.) There were tourist services and touts, but not like today. I almost don’t feel like traveling anymore, unless it’s a big city like Tokyo. (Or a beach!)
      And I like to use the word “visitor” myself, too!
      And yes, we did have a fun weekend and we found nicer places than the square in Old Town. These nicer places always exist, too – good to remember!
      Thanks for the conversation! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Pretty sure people write those pieces just to generate traffic for their site. It makes seasoned passengers (or people who haven’t traveled yet but want to) feel good to think that they are special and better than others. I agree with you that who cares about the distinction, we’re all tourists to the locals! As someone from a very visited city I can say this is very true, we judge all y’all equally.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hahah, good to know you judge us all! 😂 Yes some of those posts are probably just the result of trend hunting and SEO planning. But the catchphrase has been thrown around everywhere, printed on cushions and chocolate bars (almost):
      ”Be a traveler, not a tourist” …! 😉


  9. You got me excited as I read on your post! Certainly agree with you, it amaze me sometimes why do people want to differentiate between traveler and tourist. After all, it is our own journey and the experiences that is most important, how we feel about the place, things we learn along the way, culture we absorb and observe. Everyone has their different reason of doing and chooses differently when they travel. When I was younger, I see things differently and chooses accommodation differently..haha..now some decisions still remains the same, some has evolve. I like your term ‘passenger’ by the way. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you! 🙂 Same here, my travels have evolved… and then evolved some more. Touristy destinations are also touristy for a reason (someone said this to me recently, can’t remember whose wise words these were!) – and I don’t mind visiting them. I don’t need to go off the beaten track all the time. And there’s nothing wrong with that either 🙂 We are all following our own path, just like you said!
      Happy travels and enjoy your day!


  10. Enjoyed reading this blog post. Talking about mass tourism and touts, I have some experiences that I didn’t enjoy either. Last time in India, we hired a minivan for traveling between cities (as we were a big group), and it turned out that the company we rented the van from arranged us local guides (without asking us) in each city, and when we used their services, they took us to the most touristy restaurants(where the only customers were foreigners) and shops(or scam?) selling overpriced items like gemstones, fabrics, souvenirs etc. It’s not pleasant to be treated as walking ATMs and it makes you wonder if the friendliness of the locals is actually real. I blend in quite well with the locals in Asia, but due to my boyfriend we get treated as walking ATMs anyway.
    About the traveler and tourist distinction, I think you are absolutely right. I have seen this floating around everywhere on social media too. I really like the term passenger. I hope you’ll write more about your days in the travel industry as it sounds like a different era (or maybe a different perspective) and so interesting. Traveling has indeed become such a trend now and all the stories about people quitting their full-time jobs for full-time travel & the way that’s glorified annoys me. As if it fits everyone and as if it’s the ultimate approach to traveling.
    I can recommend you to visit Lodz if you’re reconsidering Poland! 🙂 It’s not too pretty but it’s authentic.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Pooja for your thoughtful comment! So many good points you make here. I know exactly how it feels to be a walking ATM (even though I’ve never visited India). Being judged by your exterior -your color and features, maybe clothing too – is like reversed racism, and it’s not fun. “Does she look gullible enough?” their eyes say. I wish the world was a fair place and we could all be kind to one another, but since it’s not, we each do what we can to survive. I know that’s just what they are doing. When I lived in Paris, the tiny shop around the corner where I bought my groceries several times a week always, always gave me back too little change. Every single time, though I was a regular customer!!! It doesn’t make you feel very welcome. My only sin was to be their customer! 🤣 Oh well… that’s life. 🙂
      Thanks for the idea to write about my travel jobs… it does indeed seem like a different era! A lot has changed. Maybe I will write about that. 🙂
      And Lodz sounds interesting! 😆

      Liked by 1 person

  11. In terms of traveling style, I think I’m a mixture of both. I put myself into the “tourist” category because most of our family holiday trips were booked through some of the well-known travel agencies so we often ended up staying at one of those large and well-equipped resorts, and yes, very child-friendly and tourist-like. Then my “traveller” instinct wakes up and takes over. I’m soon on my own adventure seeking for the hidden gems, I love the original, the undecorated. I love to wander, and to feel.
    Not sure if it’s necessary to distinguish between traveller and tourist, to me it’s the experience that matters, not the terms. Great post, as always! 😊🌸

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Isabelle, for sharing your thoughts. Right now, if I’d go on holiday with the toddlers, I’d definitely go for a well-equipped, safe and modern hotel with every comfort. Many resorts also have children’s clubs, don’t they. I can see the appeal! For me, there is no need to distinguish or label! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Tourist, traveler, tout, we’re all people and in my experience some people are kind, some cruel; some are friendly, some obnoxious; some helpful, some unhelpful; some are happy, sad, lively, dull, angry, understanding. In truth, no one is one thing or the other. Pretty much everyone is capable of all these responses at different times.
    There were a couple of lines in your post that I think get to the heart of the issue. You wrote, “I’ve never understood the need to categorize and to judge other people’s traveling style or reasons,” and “Please don’t judge a book by its cover and please don’t label people as good or bad.” I think these are things we do all the time. When we meet someone new, we make a first impression, which is just one way of saying we make a judgement, put that person in a category. Sometimes that judgement is already made by our prejudices or worldview.
    The key to me is whether we acknowledge those judgements, those prejudices within us. Are we bound by them or are we open, each and every moment of each and every day, to change those opinions based on what is actually in front of us.
    There are exceptions, of course. People who write articles with headlines such as, ‘Ten places to visit before they’re ruined,’ they should be taken out and shot. I mean, why exactly do they think those places are being ruined?

    Liked by 3 people

    • First impressions are dangerous, and I never liked the fact that so much importance lays upon them in a job interview for example. But it’s true that we make judgements all the time. I do it every time I leave the house, whether I notice I’m doing it or not. You are right of course.
      And I was also thinking, when writing this, whether I was being judgemental of the tout. Who gave me the right to say that my sales job in tourism was better than his sales job in tourism? Thanks Graham for your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think it’s fine to be judgemental of the tout. It’s part of life. That you can look at that judgement and question it is the key thing to me. That means a person can change their judgement as the information or evidence available changes. And just because I say these things, doesn’t mean I’m any good at putting it into practice. But I try and I think that’s all that can be asked of anyone.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Great post. I, too, am annoyed by the traveler versus tourist put downs. A few months ago I read a post about a traveler making his/her way around Iran (so obviously not an American, though that is beside the point). They talked about the wonderful buildings in the area and then said the entrance fees were expensive (by their standards at least) and they didn’t have enough money to go inside, but they had heard they were beautiful. I wanted to tell that traveler that maybe they should have postponed their traveling days or at least their travel blogging days. We are all passengers in life, weather we follow an umbrella or a gps. (I got a bit philosophical because I had to avoid a long, evil post about Parisian taxi drivers.) 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hahah, yes, those taxi drivers…!!
      I think there must be a lot of pressure for youngsters these days to “live life to the maximum”, #FOMO. (I say youngsters, but I consider myself young, I’m 40. When I was 20 I thought I was old.) It seems like the trend that everyone must follow right now is that you have to make bucket lists and live them out. Ordinary life isn’t enough. Some people probably have selfie lists, too:
      -Selfie with the red dress and shoes: Check.
      -Selfie of the moment before biting into the rainbow colored unicorn cupcake with scorpions on top: Check.
      -Selfie while standing on tiptoes, balancing on one foot at a dangerously high place and smiling for the phone… Ooops…
      Thanks, Marie, for your comment! Let’s hope this all is just a phase that will pass. (Wonder what the next phase will be?!) 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I look forward to your Krakow photos! I must say that I did not really like the Old Town, only walked through and stayed long enough to enjoy a bottle of Prosecco with my friends at a terrace 🙂 I was also shocked to see so many horse carriage rides in Krakow. Not many tourists or travellers (whichever you want to use, LOL) know that those rides should be avoided at all costs, as this kind of work is unhealthy for the horses – they are overworked, their hooves get cracked from the pavement, they are dehydrated, etc…… the list goes on. Sad how animals are exploited all over the world, be it elephants or horses 😦

    Liked by 3 people

    • Good point, Suvi! I never even thought of the poor horses!!! 😟😳This reminds me of Bariloche (a town in the lake area of Argentina), where they had very sad-looking Bernese dogs pose for photos all day every day, tied up with a short leash to a nearby pole, looking famished, bored and just sad… we didn’t take photos of them but many tourists/travelers did. They were supposed to evoke an Alpine feeling, I guess.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. How funny when you mentioned “In travel industry jargon, everyone was simply called “a passenger”.”
    The ferry company I work for has recently been asking us to refer to our passengers as “voyageurs” now!!! You’re spot on with your article!

    Liked by 3 people

      • I know! I guess it follows this distinction trend you’re mentioning in your post. These ferry passengers are upgraded from tourists to travelers! There again, being a tourists seem to be old fashioned.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. So Graham shared this post because my theme for Sunday Stills today in “Tourist,” coincidentally. You raise such excellent points and if you read my post, much of it agrees with your idea of both the positive and negatives of the modern traveler or tourist. If I’ve been to a place and feel comfortable I don’t feel as much like a tourist–whatever that definition is. A new place? Yes, I’m a tourist but mindful of the culture and people and not just what some call “ugly Americans.”

    Liked by 3 people

    • Interesting to hear we picked the same theme at the same time, I’ll pop over and read your post! 😀
      I’m not American but I often feel I get the “ugly American” treatment, too – maybe all Westerners get that sometimes, I don’t know. I can see what you mean by feeling comfortable and feeling less like a tourist.
      I try to blend in as well as I can… when traveling solo I feel that’s easier because “tourists” (in the ugly sense) usually don’t travel alone – I feel the locals treat me in a normal way. Of course I’m just generalizing!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. “What’s wrong with being a tourist, anyway? What is the difference between the two? Why is the person speaking always a traveler; what makes him a traveler and not a tourist?” Calling oneself a “traveler” seems to imply a greater worldliness, a brag that says, “I do this all the time.” It may or not be true; it’s a subjective statement! Great post. Krakow looks gorgeous!

    Liked by 3 people

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