What’s the difference between being a traveller and being a tourist? Or in other words, how to be a traveller?
Once you understand the core differences, you’ll be aware of such a powerful thing that can ACTUALLY change your life!
I haven’t travelled anywhere other than my own country, India. I’m yet to set foot in an airport or a cruise. But, I’ve made new friends who have been travelling the world.
Out of those endless discussions with them, and from my own travelling experiences in India, I think I qualify for writing this guide. FYI, travelling in India can give you a feeling of travelling to dozens of different countries at the same time. Ask anyone who has done a PAN India trip!
How to Be a Traveller?
Before we move onto the list which you can use as hack, there is one thing to understand. An important one!
Travelling is a powerful medicine and it can heal many diseases. For example, it can make you forget about what Depression term is, not just the disease!
Also read: Lessons I learned by Travelling India
To feel this powerful feature of travelling, you need to be a traveller, not a tourist! There is a big difference between these two, and I hope to see more travellers than tourists in coming months.
So, go ahead and share this guide with everyone you know. Personally, I try and be both, tourist and traveller. I get bored of anything easily!
#1 Stop taking Selfies
Everyone is a photographer these days. Everyone is a selfie nerd these days. Earlier, there was just Facebook, but now one has to manage his Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and only God knows what else!
So, first of all, stop taking these selfies and try and see things by your eyes.
If you’re a travel blogger like me, then taking few useful pictures can do the job. I usually divide my time at a place among taking pictures and seeing the place in real.
Even if there is no information on social platforms about a place you travelled, it’s not going to put a dent in your or your friend’s life!
Remember, you’re travelling for yourself, not for your friends.
#2 Travel Slow
Once you’ve a list of to do things in a city, you are time bound. There is always lesser time and more places to cover unless you end up in a village which a tourist will rarely do.
First of all, avoid making such a list, or have a personal list which is small and manageable.
When I was at Vagator Beach in Goa, I didn’t go to Chapora Fort. I was there for four days, and I never felt going to that Fort. Most probably to snap a Dil Chahta Hai picture.
I found happiness and satisfaction in climbing few rocks at the beach itself, which no one else was doing!
How can they? They were busy taking pictures!
So, in four days of my Goa stay, all I explored was Vagator Beach and nearby places.
To a tourist, it will sound a stupid thing, but for me, it’s one of the best memories of Goa I have. I have enjoyed evenings with a family, kids, dogs, and a club night party with total strangers.
Travelling slow not only helps you have these unique memories, but it also helps you save lots of money.
#3 No Plans Theory
This theory actually works! When you’ve no plans, you travel. When you have plans, you just complete a work, just like the finishing off a pending to-do list at work!
There is a term we often post on our timeline. “Let’s not find a destination, instead, let the Destination find You.”
A common term you’ll find a traveller saying every morning is, “let’s see what day brings today.”
You see? Letting the universe to worry about plans and enjoying whatever it bake!
#4 Don’t think too much about a thing you just experienced
There is a term among foreigners, “Indian Syndrome.” When I asked from my few foreigner friends and also joined a related discussion on a Facebook group, I found that it is real.
Your job as a traveller is to avoid overthinking about a thing you just experienced, even if you have successfully walked over a volcano without shoes!
Once a thing is done, simply forget about it or be normal about it. If it’s not helping, then get yourself busy in some other important work, as this overthinking can lead to a different timeline.
Yes, time travel! It is real dude.
#5 No roads? You must go there!
I’ve done it numerous times and I’m really lucky to have friends who have done similar travel. We even hope for a smooth road to go first bad and then very bad, just to have an experience.
During my Amarnath Trek, I used to pray Lord Shiva to give me a unique experience and he arranged a couple of Cloud Bursts, Landslides and sudden heavy rainfalls for me.
I had to wear wet shoes for three days above 3,000meters.
This stupid habit has even helped me find a good number of clean and “foreign standard” beaches in India itself, which are yet to be cluttered by us.
Need I say more?
#6 Ask Locals instead of Experts or Guides
Having a local information is really helpful and it is way better than what you can curate from the internet reviews.
The moment you go out from the hotel, start talking to the local people at tea stalls, restaurants, etc. Such a conversation can lead to a bad experience too, but, that’s what comes in the package. Yes, perks of being a traveller!
Staying at homestay or hostels, instead of hotels, can help you find a local help with ease. You can also try CouchSurfing!
FYI, you can find and join helpful and genuine groups on Facebook (my favorite – Nomadic Travelling) and WhatsApp which are run by fellow travellers. This is one quick way to find a local help using the internet. In case, the old school ones are not working!
#7 No online booking
Instead of booking and planning stay and restaurants, you need to start finding them offline. Wait in the queue if possible and see how it goes!
One good way of finding cheap hotels in India is to look for them on the roadside, instead of going inside the main city.
You can even find cheap hotels and food joints near Railway Station and Bus Station of every city, even if it is a small one.
#8 Less Internet
Out of thousands of reviews available over the Internet, 80% of them are not genuine. I’ve personally experienced this!
For a fact, only a tourist make use of those online reviews to make a judgement for hotel or food.
A traveller is always on the hunt for the experience!
As I mentioned in the sixth point, you need to start talking with the locals and ask recommendations from them. Once you have hunt down a perfect stay and food place, maybe you can write a genuine review over the internet which can help other travellers.
Another thing with the internet is the use of GPS. To be a traveller, you need to go and find new roads. If I talk about India, Google Maps is not always accurate when it comes to any road other than National Highways.
You can get an idea from the Maps, but prefer using local GPS. Yes, autowalas, paanwalas, and any other local person you find helpful.
#9 Avoid posting check-ins
I recently saw a person posting that he is travelling to Mt. Everest in the middle of December. First, it is impossible to go there during the summer so I’ve no idea what he was trying to achieve by that check-in.
Maybe, he wanted to show-off to his friends and girlfriend?
Event the comments on that post were like, congrats, safe travel, etc!
You need to avoid posting such a thing!
In my case, I’m yet to post my first Traveling to XYZ city post on Facebook, and I’ve no desire to do it in coming future. Maybe, I’ll do it in a sarcastic way!
#10 Travel = Good + Bad experience
Unless you’ve a bad experience memory of a particular travel journey, it’s hard to believe that you actually travelled. Most of the times, the bad experiences are related to local people, or food or stays, and this is what comes in the package.
A tourist always avoids taking risks and because of that, he/she misses a lot of unique things which could have made his/her day very special.
Let me know if this guide to become a traveller, isn’t helpful!