The Traveler and the Tourist: Which One Describes How You Travel?

When it comes to seeing the world, there are two types of people: the traveler and the tourists. Whether you’re a traveler or a tourist, neither one is terrible but there are major differences between the two traveling types. Both travel types possess distinctive characteristics that give very different travel experiences and that applies to whether you’re traveling from state to state or abroad.

“All tourists have a bit of traveler in them to a certain degree but travelers aren’t tourists…”

– unknown

The Breakdown of Traveling, Tourist, and Traveler


So you’re probably wondering, what’s the big deal? They’re all the same… but that’s where you’re wrong because they’re not the same. Traveling is the act of going from one place to another but it’s most often used when going to different places over an extended amount of time on a broader level. Going from the grocery store to the gym and then home is technically “going from one place to another” but that is more so commuting. Remember, traveling is used in broader terms and over an extended amount of time.


As mentioned earlier, a tourist travels typically for vacation purposes. They travel as an escape from work, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Everybody needs a break from the monotonous routine of everyday life from time to time.


A traveler is someone who not only travels for the enjoyment of it but they travel for the experience of wherever they are. In fact, a traveler can go to the same exact locations as a tourist and have a totally different experience than a tourist… it’s all about what an individual is looking for out of their travels.

For example, a tourist and traveler could go to New York to see the Statue of Liberty at the same exact time and have totally different experiences. Their pictures would be different and their photo captions would be different all because of what they wanted to get out of that historical landmark were different… there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just a matter of preference.

The Showdown of the Tourist and the Traveler

Obviously, there are differences between a traveler and tourist but we haven’t fully broken it down. Now we’re going to get into specific areas of travel that will help you better understand the difference in between the two. Now keep in mind, these differences don’t make one better than the other… it’s just a matter of what you’re looking for in your travels.

Tourist vs Traveler: Food


As a tourist, when it comes to food, you’re not going to stray too far away from what you know and are familiar with so chain restaurants will be your go-to. It’s really based on fear. Most tourists travel for vacations and want to enjoy it, therefore they choose to not take the risk of potentially eating something they’ve never had that could potentially give them food poisoning. Although your trip shouldn’t be based on the fear of food poisoning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 30-70 percent of travelers get travelers diarrhea due to the consumption of foods containing bacteria


Food is the best part of a trip for a traveler. Travelers are going to bypass all the chain restaurants and head straight to the “mom and pop” diners, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and small eateries that the locals eat at. The mindset of a traveler is they didn’t travel all this way to eat at places that they can eat anywhere in the world… for a traveler, it’s not about the familiarity of the food, it’s about how they felt eating the foods specific to that location. (P.S. If you consider yourself to be a foodie traveler – read more about our favorite foodie destinations!)

Tourist vs Traveler: Reason for Traveling


As mentioned earlier, a tourist travels typically for vacation purposes. They travel as an escape from work, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Everybody needs a break from the monotonous routine of everyday life from time to time.


Travelers don’t travel as an escape from work, they make traveling their work! A traveler has such a passion for traveling that a lot of them make efforts to turn traveling into their full-time job. There are actually quite a few ways to do that too.

A lot of people will start their own traveling business through an e-commerce platform like This website is what will help you get a URL for your company name and once you have that, you can truly document all of your travel adventures in a way that a tourist couldn’t.

Tourist vs Traveler: Group or Solo Travel


We mentioned earlier that a tourist is all about staying in their comfort zones and traveling solo would take a tourist way out of their comfort zone… that’s why tourists always travel in groups. Sure, when you travel, you, of course, need to be aware of your surroundings and but that doesn’t mean that traveling by yourself isn’t safe. There are different tactics you can do to on how to get over your fear of solo travel. If you try it once, you may prefer solo travel over group travel!


Travelers actually prefer solo travel over group travel on any occasion. Traveling solo allows them to do things at their own pace without having to worry if what they want to do is appealing to the group. Travelers do enjoy group travel as well but if they had to pick which one they prefer… solo travel will always trump group travel.

Tourist vs Traveler: Attractions


A tourist is going to want to do everything they’ve seen on commercials, Instagram, and Trip Advisor… Again, there’s nothing wrong with that but going to those places means that you’re hoping to have the same experience as everyone else who visited those attractions. A tourist doesn’t always have that sense of adventure when it comes to attractions in a location.


A traveler is ALWAYS going to take the road less traveled when it comes to their idea of fun on trips… A traveler doesn’t mind going to tourist attractions but even if they do go, their experience will be totally different than a tourist’s experience. Travelers live for the experience of it all.

Can You Tell the Difference?

Now that you know about travelers and tourists, can you tell a difference in the two? Furthermore, which travel type best describes you? Neither one of them are terrible, it just depends on what you’re looking for out of your travels… One thing to remember is that regardless of which category you fall in, the main thing is that you enjoy your travels!

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