No one wants to be a tourist. The very word brings up images of fanny packs and black socks with sandals. Walking around lost, speaking too loudly with an oversized map blocking their line of sight. But a traveler? Everyone wants to be a traveler. Looking to make the switch from tourist to traveler?
Read on to discover the traits you need to foster to be the savvy traveler of your dreams!
1. Humble. If you’re embarking on a true traveler’s adventure you are the first to admit you don’t know it all, haven’t seen it all, and can always stand to learn a thing or twelve. Why would you be traveling if you already had it all on lock down? A true traveler knows they seek out adventures to expand their mind, learn about cultures, histories and people and to experience the unknown. If you’re jaded by what you see, you’re on vacation. If you’re humbled, you’re a traveler.
2. Respectful. A true traveler knows they take nothing but their memories and leave nothing but their footprints. A true traveler doesn’t need to put a lock on a bridge, snap an obtrusive photo of an intimate cultural ceremony or have fifteen beers to enjoy the scenery (and then leave the trash behind). A true traveler leaves his mark by getting to know the locals, by listening with an earnest ear and by being open to new experiences without judgement.
3. Easy going. Things are different in different places. (Duh.) If you’re a true traveler you’re going to learn about those differences with a smile on your face and you’re going to take setbacks and alterations to your journey with a laugh. Learn to roll with the punches! It’s okay to have preferences, but understanding and appreciating the differences in countries and cultures makes you a true traveler.
4. Brave. We all have our own definitions of brave. It might mean eating a fried snake in Taiwan. Maybe it’s bungee jumping in South Africa. Maybe it’s just sitting down at a big table in Nicaragua and trying to use your rusty Spanish. A true traveler knows conquering fears and jumping feet first into a new experience is the entire point of traveling!
5. Honest. A true traveler is honest with themselves. Not every experience is for everyone, and that’s okay! Yes, be brave and push yourself to your limits: but know them! And be happy to take yourself as far as you can go. Not everyone needs to climb Everest and not everyone needs to enjoy opera. If we’re all alike, then we’re all redundant.
6. Sentimental. A sunset can bring you to tears, a smile can stay with you for years and a belly laugh can make you feel that all's right with the world. When you feel the ordinary moments with a sparkle in your soul, you are a true traveler. Deeply appreciating the seemingly small moments, luxuriating in the tide of emotions they bring you, gives you a traveler’s soul.
7. Aware. Traveling is an opportunity to learn, and when a true traveler embarks on a journey they are always eager to educate themselves on the situations, cultures and climates of their destination. Knowing what your impact can be on foreign communities, and taking the appropriate efforts to make sure they are positive (from the host’s point of view!) ensures an authentic traveling experience. You might think it’s cute to buy those bracelets from the children in Cambodia - but what’s the true cost there? Encouraging children to stay out of school and fostering potential situations of child slavery. When you take the strides to become aware, you are a true traveler.