The word itself probably makes you think about an awkward wanderer, holding an over-sized map and camera, wearing a fanny pack or sun-visor (or both), disrupting the locals. Yes, this is a hyperbolic description of the stereotype, but the notion must’ve come from somewhere.
Sometime in the history of people going new places, the tourism industry developed, and in case you were unaware, it’s pretty big industry. If you’re a human being, chances are you like and want to have fun – insert Cyndi Lauper reference here – and a surefire way to find enjoyment is to travel. Whether you take a leisurely road-trip to the next town or book a vacation on the other side of the globe, you leave with the expectation of having fun at your destination.
That’s basically the whole point, right? So why do we try so hard to avoid being labeled as a tourist? Tourists usually have pretty big smiles on their faces, thanks, in part, to the never-ending photoshoot that occurs on each trip. Those smiles tend to be a direct result of genuine enjoyment. This is why we’re taking a moment to advocate on their behalf. Read more to discover some instances when it’s perfectly alright to be a tourist.
When you need to mix things up in your own backyard
The dictionary defines a traveler as “a person who travels or has traveled in distant places or foreign lands.” and a tourist as “a person who is traveling, especially for pleasure.” By definition alone, we can conclude that’s it’s possible to be a traveler and a tourist, at the same time. Furthermore, the whole point of being a tourist is to have a pleasurable experience. They say home is where the heart is, but sometimes, home is not where the fun is. The remedy? Get out and explore! I’ve met countless New Yorkers who have never been to the Statue of Liberty, and on Lauren & I’s recent trip to San Francisco, we met plenty of natives who usually steer clear of Fisherman’s Wharf and have never visited Alcatraz Island! *Pause for reaction* On behalf of travelers everywhere, I urge you to take one for the team and check out those gems for which people typically venture to your town. Taking cheesy photos are completely optional.
When you’re traveling with the family
I’ll admit that family vacations can feel like a forced bonding experience, but we usually look back on them quite fondly. The memories you’ll create with Grandma & Grandpa on your visit to DC will be funnier if you get lost on your way to the White House or buy an “I went to DC and all I bought was this T-Shirt” tee. These are tourist activities, and it’s fine to indulge since you’ll probably be unable to round up everyone for that same trip again. One kid may head off to college, another might get married, and the other could start a family to go on their own vacations with. So, if you manage to gather the whole clan for a proper getaway, take full advantage of every tourist trap available.
Whenever you feel like it
Don’t let a seasoned traveler – or anyone - discourage you from checking out the main attractions in your chosen destination. They’re attractions for a reason, and you’ll likely have fun, which is basically the whole point, right? Even if touring a place doesn’t live up to the hype, chances are it’ll be an experience you won’t soon forget.