A friend once called me asking for help on their itinerary on a trip they were planning. Being a good friend, i told them of the sights they shouldn't miss being the one who is familiar of it. But she insisted on filling up their itinerary, like how much time they need to spend on a sight, etc...
Then i caught myself annoyed by that. One can't simply use a stopwatch on a spot according to what other people say. It simply is your travel and your time to take all of the sight in and enjoy it. They'd rather join a tour group that will bring them to the spots than crawling the area by themselves, and get lost in the process and waste time.
I told her that the latter is the best way to go, the best experience to travel. Because in the process you will get to abosrb the local flair at the same time learn something about yourself. She said she'd rather do a tour.
I realized from then on that I am not a tourist. I am a traveler.
A tourist is someone who goes to a place and want everyone to know that they are tourists. They go to sights by the busloads, visit crowded areas, eat the same food, shop at the tourist shops, etc...It makes your trip more streamlined and less hassle. You dont have to worry what's next.
A traveler is someone who spends time knowing about the place they are going prior to departure. Knowing the culture, history, customs and way of life. And when he gets there, he goes to the touristy places in the most convenient and efficent manner like a local would and assimilate himself with the local vibe.
the only difference is thereby the outlook of each. A tourist just want to have a slice of the destination's life without affecting his, while a traveler crawls down and get dirty just trying to fit in with the locals, gettin lost in translation, thus time wasted.
I am a traveler. Id rather have time wasted than just sitting in the comfort of a bus. Because taking the local culture all in will transform the person in you.
A trip to some is a license to show off what one already has, but to me it is a ticket to me.
thus the song goes '...ive been to paradise, but i've never been to me'.
Travel, not tour, and discover yourself.