We’ve all turned into travel snobs haven’t we? When did ‘tourist’ become a derogatory term? What’s the difference between being a traveller and a tourist? Not a day goes by when I don’t hear someone describe a place as “too touristy” or boast about how they went off the beaten path, “discovering hidden gems”. My Facebook feed is littered with articles about the ‘differences between intrepid travellers and annoying tourists’. Partly my fault for clicking on them, I must admit. Apparently tourists travel in mass and travellers go it alone. A tourist stays in a fancy hotel, while a traveller roughs it in hostels or goes camping. One is getting an Uber from the airport while the other is taking the local bus. Which is the better way to travel? Truth is, there’s no right answer. Here’s why there’s nothing wrong with being a tourist and how elitism has no place in travel.
Popular sights are in demand for a reason. If you look at Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Sites in the World, Machu Picchu, the Grand Canyon and the Taj Mahal are on there for a reason. They’re dramatic, breathtaking and rare. Are you going to miss the Acropolis of Athens because it’s too touristy? We didn’t. It was hot, busy and impossible to get a photo without a million other (stressing other, because I’m fully aware I/we are also tourists/part of the “problem”) tourists in shot. But why not embrace it rather than letting it annoy you? You’re all there to experience the same thing!
These places have earned their spot on similar lists time and again because they’re awesome, in the true meaning of the world. They’re also ‘touristy’, but so what? They attract large crowds, they’re hectic and busy in parts and at times. If that’s not your bag, then totally fine. But to think it makes you more of a ‘traveller’ if you scoff at the thought of ticking off the top ten attractions and instead don the local dress and pretend you’re anything but a foreigner, you’re fooling no one. The thought that there’s a right way to travel is ludicrous.
The definition of the word ‘tourist’ is
‘A person who is travelling or visiting a place for pleasure’
‘A person who is travelling or who often travels’
People who call themselves travellers love insulting tourists at every opportunity. I’m not sure when it became cool to judge another person’s preference when it comes to how to holiday, or why it would even effect them. Perhaps it’s just an overspill of hipster culture, attempting to take the road less travelled, while inadvertently sticking yourself in a different massive box with countless other lemmings in your category. News flash, the world is already discovered.
The definition itself ‘a person who travels or visits a place for pleasure’ provides all the proof you should need as to why it’s actually important to be a tourist. In my experience of travelling, I loved getting off the beaten track and witnessing what the locals experience in every day life, but at the same time I also witnessed and experienced what that particular city or country was renowned for – the touristy attraction or site. For me being a travel lover, blogger and writer is about being a tourist, even in my own town and country. So essentially my view is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a tourist, and there’s nothing wrong with visiting touristy destinations. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and if you haven’t lost your sense wonder, you’ll see it where ever you go.
Read more of her travel stuff here.
Are you a travel snob? Serious question. Do you ever hear yourself say something is “too touristy”? What’s wrong with being a tourist? I filed a piece about Tenerife today, where I am in the pic, loads of people turn their noses up at it. Yeah, that’s just a sign of ignorance….but when did we turn into travel snobs? Is Instagram (hashtag wanderlust) to blame? Let me know what you think! 📸: @corinagaffey
While we’re at it, want to get the best solo
traveller tourist photos? Read my guide on how to snap the finest pics tourist on your travels. Or maybe you’d like to be a tourist in your own town, that’s exactly what I did for this post on Dublin’s fair city.