Tourists VS Travelers

“Whereas the tourist generally hurries back home at the end of a few weeks or months, the traveler belonging no more to one place than to the next, moves slowly over periods of years, from one part of the earth to another. Indeed, he would have found it difficult to tell, among the many places he had lived, precisely where it was he had felt most at home.” -Paul Bowles

I am on the road again, though it’s unclear if I have ever not been on the road or will ever leave it. I have never been a tourist. I was born a traveler, an expat, destined to be forever in motion until I am tethered to one place by biological obligations, at which point I am quite sure I will lose my mind.

(Apologies to any future offspring who may read this. I’m sure your existence will justify my stationary suffering, as I hope mine does my mother’s.)

Tourists take from their surroundings; travelers give a piece of themselves to the places that transform them.

Tourists come and go; travelers stay forever in the hearts of the people they touch.

Tourists leave messes to be cleaned up by others; travelers clean up after themselves.

Tourists penetrate, striking each landmark to check off boxes on their lists; travelers arrive at a new place open, allowing the new environment to naturally engulf them.

I throw myself at the mercy of the universe and allow myself to be moved by the tides of fortune, blown like a leaf in the wind from one welcoming pocket to the next.

To all the dear ones who have guided me on my journeys: I carry you with me always and am forever grateful.

“[A]nother important difference between tourist and traveler is that the former accepts his own civilization without question; not so the traveler, who compares it with the others, and rejects those elements he finds not to his liking.” -Paul Bowles

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One thought on “Tourists VS Travelers

  1. N Kellogg

    There are some tourist / travelers who arrive at a place for an immersion experience, and sometimes participation, in re-membering and repairing some of what colonial ravages have left behind. One need not travel far on this continent to try for this and stay for awhile. We are all one family. Appreciating your words and voyages. Natallie

    Reply

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