Traveling

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From Traveler To Tourist In 5 Easy Steps
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A good mate of mine is a travel snob. I don’t mean he only flies first class and only stays in five star hotels – quite the opposite. His snobbery is rooted in the fact that he would NEVER do those things. He looks down his nose (or should that be up) at people who only travel for a week at a time, and stay in all-inclusive resorts in Fiji or Mexico. To him, travel must be difficult, dirty, possibly dangerous, but most importantly – cheap. Now don’t get me wrong, pretty much all of the travel I have ever done has been difficult, dirty, dangerous and cheap – but now that I’m getting older (and wiser), I start to wonder if there is merit in the easy, organized, pre-booked sort of travel. How does one make the transition from traveler to tourist? As I make the shift myself, I’ve compiled a short ‘to do’ list: 1. Ditch The Backpack Yes it’s probably just a symbolic gesture, but the crappy old backpack that’s been around the world with me a few times will have to go. I’ll miss the vaguely spicy scent of clothes that haven’t been washed for two weeks, but I’ll get used to it. I’ll start shopping around for a smart little bag that rolls on wheels. After all, I’m not going to be climbing up waterfalls in some remote village in Morocco anymore. 2. Find A Travel Partner My fiancé will be very happy with this suggestion. While backpacking travelers often vagabond solo, few ‘tourists’ go it alone. For a start, the luxury hotels in which I’ll stay would charge me extra for a single supplement. Plus, since I’ll be visiting notoriously dangerous cities like Singapore, Vancouver and Cabo San Lucas, there will be safety in numbers. 3. Hotels – Not Hostels No more sleeping next to 15 other dirty scabby backpackers farting and snoring their way through a cheap-rum induced sleep in some dorm somewhere. From now on I’ll stay in real hotels with double rooms, no sleeping bags, no bed bugs and – best of all – no Japanese girls rustling plastic shopping bags while they pack their bags at 4 am!

(What is it about plastic shopping bags inside people’s backpacks? I think they should be banned from all hostels – not that it matters to ME anymore…) 4. Find Some Extra $$$ Since I’ll no longer stay at places like the hostel in Chichicastenango that charged me 0.80 cents (US) for the night, I’m going to need more cash – lots of it. When you add in the private transfers from the airport to the hotel, mini-bar costs, tips to private tour guides and so on, it really starts to add up. 5. Go Easy On The Gut No more wondering which member of the rodent family my “beef steak” came from, no more buying bottled water with broken plastic seals, and no more “authentic local delicacies” in the streets of Asia, inevitably followed by five days of agony in “authentic local bathrooms”. From now on my meals will be served, on plates – white plates – with knives and forks and everything. Will I miss anything from my hobo-traveler days? No… I will be deliriously happy reclining by my massive pool, in my massive hotel complex, sipping ridiculously expensive cocktails served to me by my massively underpaid and exploited waitress. I won’t ever need to think about what’s going on outside the fortified walls. It will never occur to me how fortunate I really am to live in a country where I take things like civil liberties, personal security and the availability of affordable fresh food and clean drinking water for granted. Big pool, hot sun, a new issue of Vogue…how about another Pina Colada? So there you have it. Just five easy steps and I will easily transform myself from traveler to tourist. My mate has it all wrong, doesn’t he? He can have his impromptu dance lessons with local folk in underground clubs. Who wants to spend a whole day exploring a new city on foot, with no itinerary? Why bother learning to speak another language by haggling in markets for fresh fruit? I’ll take the massive swimming pool and cocktails. Wouldn’t you?

4 Ways To Be A Traveler, Not A Tourist
Tourist or traveler? The debate rages on. Let me start with an example. The scene: a gift shop at the Jewish Museum in Berlin. It’s almost completely free of tacky souvenirs, and instead full of meaningful books, DVDs and other informative materials about Jewish culture and history, which befit this truly fascinating museum. As I stand near the counter browsing a shelf of novels, an English-speaking tourist runs in. “Excuse me, where’s the book that everybody buys?” she shouts in the general direction of the two shop assistants, who are both serving customers. Being midconversation with said polite customers, they don’t respond immediately. “Oh, so you don’t speak English? Where’s someone who speaks English?” says the rushing tourist. One of the transactions has just finished, so a shop assistant tells her, “I speak English, how can I help you?” “I just want the book that everybody buys. I don’t have time to look. My tour bus is waiting outside,” the tourist says loudly. The shop assistant manages a weak smile and reaches up to a shelf behind the counter. Taking down three or four books, she briefly explains the contents. “But which one does everybody buy?” repeats the woman. Not getting an answer quickly enough, she throws her hands in the air and says, “Forget it, I don’t have time now,” and runs back out of the shop. No tricky guess that these actions – and they’re real, I watched them open-mouthed – are those of a tourist, in fact of the worst kind of tourist. But if you want to be a traveler rather than a tourist – to me, that means experiencing a country and its culture from the inside, rather than simply taking pictures of it as it passes by your tour bus window – it just takes a little bit of effort.

By Amanda Kendle

dialects, capital city and major towns, unusual customs, any dangers. Get deeper in the areas that interest you. Tip 2: What’s the Rush? Ban this sentence: “I have to see X, Y and Z today because I might never visit this city again.” If you do rush around to all three sights you probably will never visit the city again, because you’ll have destroyed all the pleasure of traveling there. Learn to schedule things slowly, even if you have only a short trip planned. Prioritize the sights you want to see and allow plenty of time. This includes time for sitting in an art gallery cafeteria musing over the paintings you’ve seen and deciding which ones warrant a second look, and time standing near an old castle peoplewatching, picking the locals out amongst the visitors, imagining what their daily lives involve. A corollary to not rushing is not checking off lists. There is no rule that you have to ascend the Eiffel Tower when you visit Paris. When somebody asks you about it on your return home, no matter what they say, it doesn’t matter if you missed it. Your answer is simply, “No, we spent an extra afternoon at the Picasso Museum instead. He was such a fascinating man.” If your friends no longer think you’re fascinating, talk to someone else about your travels.

Tip 3: Foreign People Are People Too While you’re traveling, make an effort to get chatting with local people. Don’t stare at locals behaving in a manner different to what you’re used to; don’t treat them like sightseeing objects; and most importantly, don’t think they’re inferior if they don’t have an iPod or have never seen a computer. Real travelers know that people are extraordinarily similar the world over. Learning a bit of the language is an important part of connecting with the locals, even if it’s just a few words. An alternative is taking a pictorial phrase book to help Tip 1: Learn Before You Land There’s no excuse these days: Internet or guidebook, start a conversation, or a paper and pen to draw pictures library or online forum, there are plenty of ways to learn and maps. It works, really. something about even the most obscure destination before you travel there. In fact, I think that’s one of the Tip 4: Get Local best parts of traveling. As well as reading up on some of One of my golden traveling rules is that there is very, the places I hope to visit, I also love to read novels that very rarely a good reason to visit a fast food franchise are set in my destination or biographies of some of its that you know from home. If necessary, get some tips most famous citizens. Depending on your personal from a good guidebook for a local restaurant or eatery, interests, you might like to source some locally-made ask people where you’re staying, or simply follow your music, or use the internet to listen to a radio station nose on the streets and pick somewhere that looks broadcasting in your destination. As well as becoming interesting. familiar with the place and its culture, you’ll get even The same goes for accommodation, in my view. If I more enthusiastic about your trip. have a choice, I’ll take a no-name hotel over a big chain What do you need to know? Most of it depends on you, every time. There’s nothing worse than checking into a but there are certain basics that I’d like to say go without hotel in southern China, walking into your room, and saying – but you’d be amazed what some people don’t feeling like you could be anywhere back home. You know. Check these off your list: basic geography, the travel to have new experiences. Surround yourself with name and rate of the local currency, language and them whenever you can.

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