Branding Your Identity as a Traveler (or Tourist, or Both)

The lovely Alli from The Vintage Postcard described it best in her blog when she compared a tourist to a traveler. She stated, “I believe that every traveler is somewhat a tourist, and every tourist is a bit of a traveler.”

Here are some of the reasons why my move to NZ brings out the tourist in me:

  1. Plans. I research. I have timelines.
  2. Yells, “SHEEP!!!!!” and points excitedly whenever seeing a clump of sheep in New Zealand.
  3. Takes pictures. A lot. I’ll be walking and taking photos with my phone in back of my head if needed.
  4. Gets giddy when spotting Lord of the Rings-related monuments.
  5. Stresses. My mind is constantly in overdrive.
  6. Tracks all spenditures. I might throw myself off ledges, but I sure as hell am not throwing away money where I don’t need to be.
  7. Wakes up early and goes to sleep early. Pretty much the schedule of a tourist. Is it 10pm already? Time to brush my teeth… 😉
  8. Pretends to be on the phone to appear busy (sometimes)
  9. Reverts to Subway and McDonald’s when some food just doesn’t cut it for me
  10. Walks really quickly, like I’m always in a rush
  11. Fears food poisoning and losing luggage
  12. Keeps an all-in-one keychain on keys (it’s a compass, mirror, magnifying glass, AND whistle all in one!)
  13. Owns an RFID blocking wallet from REI
  14. Has TSA-safe locks on all suitcases
  15. Goes almost everywhere with earbuds in rather than taking in all the sounds of a new place

And here are some of the ways I’m more of a traveler:

  1. Prefers wandering alone on foot rather than taking public transportation or taxis anywhere
  2. Slowly and patiently explores rather than rushing through everything
  3. Goes off the path whenever possible (not recommending this one often, but hey, you never know)
  4. Can make do without WiFi and hot water without complaining (for the most part)
  5. It’s not a big deal to pack up everything in just a suitcase or large backpack
  6. LOVES the outdoors in any type of weather
  7. Saves money wherever possible
  8. Tries the local foods (even if marmite and sausage rolls just aren’t her thing)
  9. Slowly becoming better at chatting with people on streets
  10. Slips into Kiwi lingo every so often (not on purpose)
  11. Being okay with waking up and being on your own agenda
  12. Internalizes any struggles (or writes about it, ha)
  13. Goes where the locals recommend, not where a tour book recommends
  14. Loves the idea of escape or just being far, far away from my home base (both in terms of Wellington and Whittier)
  15. Prefers remote areas rather than ones clogged with tourists


It doesn’t matter if you’re more of a tourist or traveler, vice versa, or if you don’t even care about the titles. Frankly, just know what’s right for you and why you travel.

Here are some reasons why I chose extended travel for the year (versus just a short trip):

  1. Solitude.
  2. Professional growth.
  3. Personal growth and development.
  4. To disconnect from social media (live in the moment, not on the internet).
  5. Change.
  6. Independence.
  7. Courage.
  8. Tranquility.
  9. The people. 
  10. Self-discovery. (something I didn’t realize I was accomplishing until a month or two into this)

Everyone has a little bit of traveler AND tourist in them. They’d be lying if they weren’t. And once again, there is no right or wrong way to travel.

How do YOU brand yourself as a traveler, tourist, both, or none of the above? 

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