Broken Finger, Broken Rule
The Difference between Tourists and Travelers
We received this article from Maria one of our readers and we liked it.
When it comes to traveling, I’ll be the first to admit that I am a bit of a snob, for I consider myself not a tourist, but a traveler. To me, the word tourist has certain connotations, all of them negative.
I think the main difference between two is that a traveler is a thinking person, aware and caring while a tourist is concerned with only his or her own wants and needs.
“When in Rome, do as the Romans do” means abide by the customs of a society when you are a visitor. One difference between a traveler and a tourist is that a traveler respects the people, places and things of the place they are visiting. A traveler will familiarize him- or herself with the customs and rules of the country. They learn a few phrases of the language. They adapt. A tourist thinks a place is there to serve their needs and expects that the place and the people adapt to them.
|Most of you have heard about the man who recently broke off the finger of a 600 year-old statue in Florence.
He was a tourist.
A traveler might want to touch a piece of art but would never actually do it.
While one may want to feel the smoothness of the marble or compare the size of his or her hand, a traveler would think, “Who am I to touch this age-old work of art that has survived hundreds of years without my leaving traces of dirt, oil and sweat?” This thought would not even cross the mind of some tourists.
How many times have you read about inebriated tourists diving into the Trevi and other Roman fountains?
Police pull them out, often to the cheers of onlookers.
Such actions would only appall those of us who value art and revere the land of our ancestors.
A traveler would not dream of littering and will even carry their trash with them until a proper receptacle is found, while many tourists do not give a second thought to the water bottles or food wrappers they leave behind on the street or in the brush.
In my recent visit to a town in Italy, I noticed that in the two years since my last visit, along with an increase in the number of tourists was a correlating increase in the litter on the streets. It made me sad, but mostly, it made me angry.
Travelers generally keep a low profile, speaking softly in museums and on trains. They are aware that nobody wants to hear them, while some tourists can be obnoxious, loudly subjecting others to their opinions or conversations.
Both travelers and tourists come from all over the world. Every race, every country produces its share of both. It is a difference of attitude, how we were raised, who we are. We should remember that we are guests in the places we visit. And just as we expect the host to be gracious, we should at least be equally well mannered and considerate.
Step lightly upon the planet and the places you visit.
Be a traveler.