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Thursday, October 6, 2011

4. Tourist or Traveller?

The age old debate of are you a tourist or a traveller is one which always seems to get lots of answers and discussion. Of course there are those who say it's been done to death, or it's been discussed ad nauseum, yet still the question pops up.

According to the Oxford dictionary, a tourist is "a person who is travelling or visiting a place for pleasure", and a traveller is "a person who is travelling or who often travels".
Does a traveller travel for displeasure? Hardly. So what, really is the difference? To my mind, there is no difference - they're one and the same really, it's just a question of semantics.
A traveller is just a tourist with pretensions.
A tourist expects toilet paper, travellers carry their own, a tourist has a wheeled suitcase, a traveller carries a backpack - these are just some of the arguments.

So, let us take a look at the different styles of people travelling.
You get the ones who travel in air-conditioned buses with a coach captain and tour guide, their itinerary is pre-planned, they stay in three or four star hotels - some even stay in five star places. It depends on the money you've forked out. They get met at the airport (usually) and are shuttled to their hotel where they meet for a welcome drink and get to meet the others in their group.

Meals are usually included - again this depends on the cost of the "tour" - the more you pay, the more meals you get! The next day, they're off and it's on the bus, off the bus, look at this, take photos, on the bus, off the bus, another photo opportunity - your day is mapped out and planned. Sometimes, there will be "free" time where you either get a choice of paying to do something extra or just while away a couple of hours doing your own thing.

Then you get the ones who don't do escorted tours, but travel either on their own or with a husband, lover or friend, or with another couple. They may stay in five start hotels and pay for expensive day tours. I met a couple in Bangkok who (obviously) had money, and a lot of it, and had a "lady" as the husband said, plan their trip and book tours for them. He "used" her each time he came to Thailand.

And what about the families - mum, dad and the kiddies? A real family holiday. They do activities, see attractions, go places that fit in - being with children they have to cater for things that will interest children so they don't get bored, or where they can wheel prams or strollers, those without the little blighters can please themselves so to speak.

And what about people who travel solo - where do they fit in? Does a "tourist" stay in higher end accommodation and a "traveller" stay in cheaper digs? Finances would play a role in this - if your budget is only a few dollars a night, then you look for the cheaper ones, dorms in hostels, or small guesthouses, whereas if your finances stretch further, having a greater amount of money to play around with affords you more choice. Even so, you might still prefer to stay in an area which has a mix - some cheap, some dearer and/or where backpackers congregate and hang out.

Once, and only once, did I do an escorted tour - and realised it wasn't for me. Although there was one good thing which came out of it - I had the opportunity (for a higher price) to travel gold class on the Ghan from Adelaide to Alice Springs which was something I'd long wanted to do.

Call yourself a tourist, call yourself a traveller, you're still travelling and you're still in someone else's country.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

3. Psalm of Summer

Now it came to pass that spring turned to summer again.
Recreation is my shepherd, I shall not stay at home,
He maketh me to lie down in a sleeping bag, and leadeth me down the Highway each weekend.
He restoreth my suntan and leadeth me to National Parks for comfort's sake.
Even though I stray on the Lord's Day, I will fear no reprimand,
My tent hath been erected,
My petrol tank runneth dry
Surely my trailer shall follow me all the weekends this summer,
and I shall return to the House of the Lord this autumn.
But then it is hunting season and that's another psalm.