Recently I feel a new concept has arisen; “the real traveller”. People seeing themselves as better travellers, doing it the “right” way, and laughing at those who, to their standards, do it wrong. But what is a “real traveller”? Who decides which way to travel is best? I think the answer is no one; there is no right way to travel.
Recently I read an article that comically compared a tourist with a traveller. Tourists take selfies, travellers take amazing photographs of local markets. Tourists stay in hotels, traveller’s stay in budget accommodation and quirky guesthouses. Tourists travel in groups, travellers do it all on their own. Tourists roll suitcases, travellers wear backpacks. You get the picture.
I am never a fan of people deeming themselves to be better at something than others, just because they do it a different way. The same goes for travel. Just because your travels don’t involve organised tours and four-star hotels, that doesn’t mean you are better at it. It just means that you do it differently. There’s no need to laugh at those that choose to do it a different way. At the end of the day, you’re both exploring and enjoying a new country; you’re both travellers.
In the past, when I’ve travelled alone or with friends, I have sometimes been called a “real traveller”. Why? Because I carry a backpacks covered in flag patches of the countries I’ve been to, stay in 16-bed mixed dorms, carry a used Lonely Planet guide and usually look a bit on the scruffy side with a messy bun and baggy trousers. I travel like this not because I think it is the ultimate way to travel, but because of necessity. I don’t have the money to stay in nice accommodation when I travel or buy a brand new guidebook, I am usually too lazy to make myself look nice, and the reason I have patches on my backpack is because that’s the only souvenir I let myself buy when I visit a new country. I don’t actively travel this way because I feel it’s the “right” way to travel, I do it because at this point in my life, it’s the only way I can travel.
When my parents are kind enough to take me on holiday with them, I stay in nice hotels. We drive around in a rented car, I travel with a suitcase, and you’ll sometimes find us on a guided tour of the top tourist destination. Am I less of a “real traveller” on these trips compared to my solo trips? No! I am travelling in a different way that suit the circumstances at that time. For me, both ways of travelling have their own up and down sides. I enjoy them both and am lucky enough to be able to experience both ways of travel.
The moment you set foot in a new country ready to explore; you are a traveller. No matter where you stay, what you do, what you wear, or which pictures you take. Don’t let others judge whether you’re a “real traveller” or not; travel for yourself and enjoy every last minute of it.