“Don’t be a Tourist. Be a Traveler.”

touristvstraveler dont beI don’t totally agree with this. Hindi naman lahat may wanderlust na pangEAT, PRAY, LOVE na may matinding hugot or mid-life crisis. At lalo na, hindi lahat kayang magresign para lang masabing ‘man of the world’ na sila. At the end of the day, to be able to go on a vacation for a couple of days is enough. Period.

Coming from the advertising industry, naming or labeling something is probably the first thing on the list that’s most difficult to do. Whether you’re thinking of name studies for a product, service, or a cheap promo that nobody will care about; you’ll end up calling it what it really is (unless your client is evil).


In my case, this dilemma came about when deciding which domain name to pursue and purchase. The choices were: thirdworldtourist, travelingtito, vacationstation, and vacaygraphy. Obviously “A” won.

Like most who commented and got curious, you might be asking yourself “Why not traveler?” Cause it does sound like what I’m aspiring to be. Mas cool pakinggan.

touristvstraveler definition

 According to the dictionary app here in my mac, a tourist is defined as a person who travels for leisure. Whereas a traveler is someone who often travels, closely more associated to a gypsy—a free spirit who doesn’t stay in one place.

Personally, nahiya ako to be labeled as a traveler. I don’t even come close. These people are on a different level, you’d be amazed just hearing how long they’ve been on the road. I’ve met a reasonable amount of real travelers and learned about their ‘exploration’. But there are some qualities I think I’m accustomed to so this is an attempt to clear the confusion.

Why a tourist and traveler are so different:

Tourists come and go. Travelers stay in one place for a long time.

Dahil taghirap ako, umaasa lang ako sa seatsale or promo fares. My trips are dictated by the cheapest fares available, mostly, roundtrip ones. The longest I’ve stayed in one country is 28 days. But even then, I was moving almost every 4 days because it was an ambassadorship program sponsored by the Rotary foundation. The next would be 14 days in Peru.

Travelers don’t purchase return tickets unless of an emergency or they’re already fulfilled.

Veteran Filipina traveler Tricia Velarmino shares her passion for ‘moving’ like no one I know. Been a fan of her’s ever since I came across her guide to South America. Go check her out. Not her pic in the bikini ha, her blog.

touristvstraveler trisha
(c) photo from tricia’s kick-ass blog

Toursits have plans. Travelers go with the flow.

Tourists are OC: The budget; the itinerary; what to eat; and where to shop. Everything’s covered. They stick to the plan.

Travelers plan along the way. They are the best personification of the phrase ‘crossing the bridge when i get there’. To the inexperienced and judgemental, this can be a personality trait to be frowned upon. Their general plan is to stay away from home for as long as possible while utilising the least amount of available resources. Most gather resources while they roam. Meet Tessa and Dillon of the rocking blog the bus & us, who customized a cool van and used it to go with the flow.

touristvstraveler the bus
(c) photo by thebusandus during their trip to Mexico. #envymuch

Tourists prefer convenience. Travelers exercise max tolerance.

Understandably, flying to another country costs so much that you’d want to be sleeping on a nice comfortable bed at night. Or a decent hot meal for dinner would be a good way to cap the night. Tourists put value and worth on how convenient the experience was, while travelers would rather experience the crudeness and simplicity of it. They believe the essence of a country’s culture is in the small necessities it can offer. I prefer to strike a balance between both ideologies.

touristvstraveler airbnb
On our stopover going to Maldives, we arrived in SG and this was what welcomed me and my family. The cleaning lady was an hour late. She was apologetic, so was the Airbnb host.

Tourists carry a back pack. Travelers carry a life pack.


A tourist brings stuff enough for 5-7 days max. A traveler, like my Chinese friend here, brings the entire house including the sink. It’s skill that I myself have yet to master.

I don’t intentd to over generalize, and these aren’t the only defining behaviours and traits each have. I plan to expand this study a bit further as I meet more and more. They are, as some would say, the same animal but different beast.

For now, maybe you can help me sort them out? I’m planning on doing an illustrated guide for this. 🙂 I’ll share authorship credit with you. Let’s go!





2 Comments Add yours

  1. Kiko, this is a great blog!

    I can really relate to everything you have written so far. I’ve had this mentality before: be a traveler and not a tourist. After reading your post, I realized that, yes, I am a tourist and no, there is no shame in that. LOL. I guess this mentality came about because when I think of the term ‘tourist’, I automatically see those big groups of people being led by a tour guide with flag. And forgive me if I had this limited view of a ‘tourist’ before. I guess I just didn’t feel comfortable participating/joining those group tours and being a ‘typical’ tourist. I feel (felt) like I can create a better itinerary at a cheaper cost; okay, maybe not better or cheaper altogether, but primarily an itinerary that my friends and I are going to be (were) comfortable with. My bestfriend told me about of this Hong King tour he and his sister joined, wherein they got stuck in a Jewelry shop for well over an hour with no other recourse. It’s these types of scenarios that I’d like to avoid. I’m thinking group tours offered by agencies are not all bad; perhaps, it’s just a matter of choosing the right one.

    I am babbling on and on and on. I know, I’m not making any sense at all. Haha! Anyway, I just wanted to tell you that this (site) is a very awesome idea and your posts are very relatable.

    I’m still a newbie when it comes to travelling and I’m looking forward to more of your stories and traveling tips!

    More power and soldier on!


    1. Heya Marga! Thanks. Yeah, nothing wrong being on either end. I just felt the confusion between both needed clearing up. Sana nga I get to write more pa in the coming days and show stuff from my photo archives 🙂 stay tuned!


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