Are you a traveler or a tourist?
Do I sound serious? It could be my acting skills, or it could be that you’ve heard
this question so many times before. Look at all these. “Are you a traveler a
tourist? Take the quiz to find out” “Differences between a tourist and a
traveler” Kind of weird that the USA Today would use the British spelling with two L’s, whatever. “Ten differences between tourists and travelers.” “21 signs you’re a
traveler not a tourist” and “The great debate: traveler or tourist” Great debate,
great deshmate. This is such a tired cliché. Welcome back to Globally Curious,
my new channel where we talk all about the tough issues of travel and hopefully
make you a better traveler. Definitely subscribe to the channel. You can also follow me on Instagram and Twitter and Facebook and all that kind of stuff,
links in the description, but let’s get back to that question. Are you a traveler
or tourist? Just for the heck of it let’s actually have you answer the question
and I will try to predict your answer. On the count of three: 1, 2, 3. TRAVELER! Nobody says, “Oh, I’m a tourist.” Of course. It’s like it’s
somebody asks you are you smart or dumb, you could be like the dumbest person
ever but you don’t think you’re dumb so you can answer “Of course,
I’m smart.” And everyone else is like: That guy is dumb. So like the line between
smart and dumb: everybody thinks that they’re on the smart side. Just like with
smart and dumb traveler versus tourist is a continuum and different people
fall at different points. To the one side it’s like the people who go off on
their own, they don’t use tour guides, they explore, they go off, like, off the beaten path, all that kind of stuff on the other side you have people exhibiting these
characteristics we associate with tourists: they go in groups they take
tours they don’t do anything too scary, they hire a driver all this kind of
stuff. First of all it’s not really necessarily
anything wrong with either of those. But the problem is there’s no obvious line
where you cross from traveler to tourist, like if you once went to McDonald’s
while you were in Tokyo or something like that. So we all draw the line so
that no matter where we are we are on the traveler side. Sandra’s on the
traveler side. Tom’s on the traveler side. Even Angelo’s on the traveler side. What
is this traveler versus tourist thing all about? Basically it’s a way to make
us travelers feel superior to those tourists. But why should we, like, be
making fun of people just because they’re on a tour bus or just because
they’re going to like the cafe with the big trilingual menus or something like
that. We all have our own capacity as travelers or as tourists. Travel is not
this easy thing and everybody’s trying hard to do it well. Maybe if you’re older
or you’re less experienced traveler on your first trip abroad, you just, you may
take more tours. You may feel safer doing that, it might be a big adventure to you
just because it’s not to someone else. I push people to be independent but that
means something different for everyone. I just want people to push a little bit
beyond their limit wherever that limit might be and yet here we are making fun
of tourists. In New York we make fun of tourists all the time and basically talk
about them behind their back: “Oh these annoying tourists I can’t believe they
went to that restaurant which nobody ever goes to if they’re a New Yorker bla
bla bla, but I really wonder if we should do that. I actually had never really thought about this until I read this classic book which I had also never
heard of before. The Tourist by Dean MacCannell. It was
written in like the 1970s, it’s like a sociological study of tourists as a
group and look at what he writes in there. At one point he writes that… So he’s actually comparing what we do to tourists to like racism and sexism, and it sounds a little
crazy but there might actually be something to it. We do kind of
discriminate against people from other places who come in and kind of act like
dummies in our own city. There should be a word for that. We should call it…racism, sexism…tourism! That might already be taken. I also got interested in, like,
where does this phrase actually come from, traveler versus tourist. Who used
it first? It turns out that it’s from a book by Paul Bowles called “Sheltering
Sky.” Paul Bowles is a great writer, I’m actually in the middle of one of his
other books right now, The Spider’s House. He writes a lot about North Africa and look, I mean, it’s really excellent. I’m on page 30 — ok, I’m kind of kidding, it’s not really excellent, I’m on like page 37, it’s a little dense. So like, sometimes after like three pages you kind of feel like “I just want to watch
videos on YouTube,” which reminds me: Subscribe to the channel so you don’t
miss a video. OK, well, whatever so in Sheltering Sky, here’s the key
passage. Here it is on a piece of paper. It’s talking about the main character whose name is Port Moresby,
which is kind of weird ’cause it’s also like a city in Papua New Guinea.
I dunno. Whatever. Anyway, this is what the main character has to say. Listen and see
whether you are a traveler or a tourist according to him. OK so the guy that invented traveler versus tourist has some
bad news for most of you. If a few weeks to a few months makes you a tourist, we
are all tourists. So, get off your high horse, you’re not really a traveler
according to this guy, everyone has different definitions of what a traveler
is, so does this question have absolutely no use at all? Well, the way it’s formulated, I don’t think it does, I think it’s stupid, we should never say again. OK, OK, that’s too much. There is some value in distinguishing between the sort of actions you associate with travelers and
the sort of actions you associate with tourists. Actually in the very same
book there’s another quote. OK, that’s cool. Like when you go to another
civilization, you see how they’re doing things and you actually sometimes say:
“Huh you’re doing it differently than us and actually maybe better” and actually
that is one of the great things about about travel: When you go to another
place you never even realize something could be done differently, and
then you’re like “Wow, that’s great, why don’t we do that? And actually
there’s a lot we can learn from this kind of debate. But I think we can do it
without speaking ill of tourists, whoever they are. OK, that’s it for today don’t
forget to subscribe to the channel, Check out the other videos I’ve been posting this week, you can even check out my Portuguese language YouTube channel,
there are subtitles in English. Most importantly, get down there and write what you think. I’ll see you in the comments.


  • Sarah Cavalcanti

    May 28, 2018

    That's great content, Seth! I'm pretty sure I would be fitted in the "tourists" group, right from the start. hahaha I don't have much experience in traveling and I'm super scared something might go wrong, so I guess I would choose safety rather than adventure.

  • Beatriz

    May 28, 2018

    I'm really in love with you new channel!! Can't wait for more videos 🙂

  • THiago F

    June 5, 2018

    I'm definitely a traveller I've been backpacking around the world for 16 months.

  • CSaintis

    June 16, 2018

    Agora não preciso nem ouvir NPR para aprender english, vc falando assim com essa voz 😍 e essa legenda 👌👏👏👏

  • Brenda Ohana

    June 18, 2018

    For me, depends on what kind of travel I am in. Sometimes you have a short time to travel, so it's better to see things you're probably gonna like and try to do something different from the pattern. When you have more time, it's easier to discover the place you're traveling to. It also depends on how you behave, if you respect the traditions or if you think people don't know you nor gonna see you again.

  • Luiza Castro

    September 14, 2018

    Such an amazing content, I really aprecciate the serious look you gave to this new channel, but I still loving the zueira in Amigo Gringo

  • rosangela belfort

    February 16, 2019

    Amor é fogo que arde sem se ver;
    É ferida que dói, e não se sente;
    É um contentamento descontente;
    É dor que desatina sem doer.

    É um não querer mais que bem querer;
    É um andar solitário entre a gente;
    É nunca contentar-se de contente;
    É um cuidar que se ganha em se perder.

    É querer estar preso por vontade;
    É servir a quem vence, o vencedor;
    É ter com quem nos mata, lealdade.

    Mas como causar pode seu favor
    Nos corações humanos amizade,
    Se tão contrário a si é o mesmo Amor?

    Luís de Camões


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