Tourist or Traveler?
I was curious. What are the differences between being a tourist
or a traveler? Today, instant enlightenment awaits at the end
of the Internets tunnels, so I typed the question into
a search engine.
WOW! There is no such thing as a value-free word: consider the
difference between trailer and vacation home.
In the blogosphere, there is unlimited access to world-wide
polarized thinking. I learned that tourist has grown
a pejorative overcoat, with handy lists of what designates either
a tourist (bad) or a traveler (good). Bloggers do not hide their
disdain for tourists and the superiority of the
traveler (read blogger). It was fun to read a few,
albeit contradictory, opinions and predict which label they
would stick on my back.
I turned to my trusty dictionary collection to get my bearings
and a set of definitions. According to The American Heritage
Dictionary of the English Language (1978), a tourist is
simply a person who travels for pleasure. The definition
for traveler is even more elemental: a person who travels.
I wondered if the meanings had shifted over time, so I consulted
The Century Dictionary (1891). There, a tourist is One
who makes a tour; one who makes a journey for pleasure, stopping
at a number of places for the purpose of seeing the sights,
scenery, etc. A traveler had more layers of meaning: a
toiler; laborer; worker and one who travels in any
way; one who makes a journey, or one who is on his way from
place to place and one who journeys to foreign lands;
one who visits strange countries and people and finally,
one who travels for a mercantile firm to solicit orders
for goods, collect accounts, and the like. The Grand Tour,
required of the wealthy in days of old, and Arthur Millers
Death of a Salesman came to mind as I read these
Travel: England: William Blake
This months blog has made me think, which is why I write
it in the first place. Why do I travel? Admittedly, to find
art. But wait, thats not all! I want to learn as much
as I can from as many people and things as possible in the prescribed
time. I look forward to marveling, to thinking, to getting upset,
to being consoled. I like to observe how things get done and
whos in control. I find satisfaction in tasting new foods
and attempting communication in an unfamiliar language to get
that food, or buy tickets, or (gasp) to shop. I know I will
test my panic button when negotiating airports, trains, subways
Label me tourist or traveler, but I
will be the same individual waiting in lines or looking for
a place to eat, hungry and alert to the possibilities.