Travelers vs tourists
On the road there is a big difference between travelers and tourists. The travelers think they know everything best. This includes where to go (undiscovered places), what to eat (local), what to drink (a lot) and how much to pay (very little). Moreover, travelers claim moral superiority over tourists based on the conviction that travelers don’t come to see for sights or mindlessly bake in the sun, but for the experience of getting to a destination.
In the defense of tourists, most of them seem happier than at home (especially the kids), even if tourists pay more than the minimum price it’s still much less than at home and the shop owner has a fantastic day (earning a week’s income with 10 seconds of bargaining), and a room with air-conditioning when it’s 30 degrees at 02.00 in the morning might not be such a bad idea afterall.
I fall in neither the traveler nor the tourist category. I’ve slept in ‘hotel rooms’ that would result in UN sanctions if prisoners from The Netherlands had to sleep in there. I’ve also taken trains with a cleaning frequency that left a lot to be desired (see the picture taken in an overcrowded overnight train in India). At the same time, I fly airplanes when I want to, rent a catamaran when there is wind, eat delicious fish in a nice restaurant if I feel like it and lie unashamed on the beach in Goa for days on end.
With this lifestyle, I enjoy myself (something that both travelers and tourists seem to forget). I get to see great sights (the famous ones and the undiscovered). I get to meet people from the country i’m staying in and interesting guests. At the same time, I don’t worry about paying 2 rupees to much for a drink, while if I only need ‘a bed for the night’ that’s exactly what I’ll get.
My personal way of traveling definitely isn’t for everybody. It takes quite a high tolerance for filth, one needs to be reasonably fit and not afraid of taking a calculated risk here and there. Most of all, you need to accept that plans can mess up badly. The only other thing you need is money, which will be the subject of a future post.