?Good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.? Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu said. Even if there is a certain destination the plan undergoes changes generally, the route turns to other directions. If we’re not a “tourist” it means we do not have a definite plan already. Let me specify the difference between tourist and traveler:
– Tourist is a product of modern times but traveler is an old concept. This situation changes use of space and time, and consumption patterns.
– Tourist takes care of issues such as transportation-accommodation before departure. Usually the first step is looking for a flight. Traveler rides in the truck, becomes guest of people and tries to communicate even though s/he doesn’t know the language of the people in the car. Perhaps traveler’s favorite method of transportation is hitchhiking.
– Tourist stays in flashy hotels, goes to “places to go”, takes photos in certain places, like everyone else, and a fine dining in a restaurant … But a traveler stays in a house as a guest -that is a separate issue to be discussed on- or finds a cheap hostel, sometimes sleeps in stations, on the beach, or even sets up his tent in any place. Traveler walks streets of city until s/he feels pain on the soles of feet. Walks the city street by street and ?reads? the city like a book. Traveler is open to meet everyone, because she is not stuck on a bus like tourists who buy tour packages from the Internet.
– Traveler is a citizen of the world, most importantly, she is a nature lover, humane and always tends to learn. Draws her own path, her route is suitable to change at any time and prefers to buy specific, authentic and traditional objects instead of buying things that she can already find it in her country.
Dozens of sentences telling the difference between tourist and traveler can be written. But I think the best option is being a traveler. Going to places that you’ve never known, feeling there, having dialogs with locals, feeling the atmosphere… But the situation is very different today. “Foreign” cities are being traveled by paying hundreds, the same photos are being taken at the same places, same things are being tasted and then cities are being “visited”. Yes, that’s all, the best part of all is having tour companies that offer them as a package for us. We can buy a Egypt Tour or a Black Sea Tour like a commodity. Especially when we visit different countries we learn about places how “foreigners” live with the information given by our tour guide. We just see but can we touch it? How far do we understand local and cultural values that’s not become a commodity? We are consuming cities as a chose.
Windows of tourism companies are adorned with pictures of cities like there is no people that thinks, sees and perceives different than us. But having a dialog is a must for a better understanding of a city. And understanding is listening to their country, her life from their point of view. Trying, seeing things that tour package doesn’t provide etc. In my travels I listened what they have in their minds when they breath, about their lands, their perceptions of my country. I believe that they all built a bridge between us and even if we’re from different countries, we are not an “alien” to each other.
Witnessing to a “mentally disabled” German’s watering of land by a hose given by customs police on the Syrian border, coming across with truck drivers from your city in the middle of a different country and then tasting foods and rakı (a liqueur made of Annice) after a long time, to forget everything in the middle of nature being alone with your mind, concentrating on your soul, to see living conditions of people who live far from centrum, and not imagining that country as a single mold is not provided by the tourism agencies. Touching a city shouldn’t be that easy, they’re like books. They must be read and even the protagonist should tell it with his own voice. Maybe the most beautiful song is what people tell. And the duty of traveler is to attain different songs.
* A man who carries his house on his back