Open Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat at any time of the day and you will receive continuous updates check–ins, ‘filtered’ photos and stories of people vacationing at different parts of the globe. Most of the captions are filtered by #wanderlust, which is become a fad that has become just another reason to be validated on social media. It’s time to answer some questions and this time, let’s be honest.
How many of you actually soaked in the many blues of the Pangong Lake and how many of you chose the background because it makes for a good Facebook profile picture?
How many of you tested your taste buds with the local flavours you ordered and how many of you ordered it just for an Instagram filtered upload with #foodporn before returning to the safest sounding dish on the menu?
How many of you have always been wanderlust before the word became prefixed with a hashtag?
Here’s the tell-tale question that will settle the matter for good ( if you’re honest!).
How many of you are tourists and how many of you are travellers?
But, isn’t that the same thing?! No, my friend, it isn’t. Allow us to help you erase your confusion.
Tourist: A tourist’s schedule is governed by a schedules of 4 days 3 nights packages and all the sightseeing activities are crammed between free complimentary breakfasts and dinner back at the hotel.
Travellers: Travellers do not run with the hands of the clock. Most travellers book a one way ticket to their destination. They are so immersed in their travel that the return is never fixed, in so many cases never.
Quantity or Quality?
Tourist: A tourist will always look to check every must-do/ must-see activity off his list else the tour will feel incomplete without it.
Traveller: There’s no mandatory to-do list for a traveller. His feet follow the beats of his heart where its rhythm is in sync with the sound of the surroundings. If simply watching the golden sun set completes his being, attending that weekly flea market will not even strike him.
Destination or Journey?
Tourist: The tourist has it all planned and cannot wait to get to his destination for his tour to kick off. The schedule is charted and mapped out. If his ‘tour’ does not happen as per plan, he will be dismayed and definitely lost without the map.
Traveller: The only plan is no plan. The traveller embraces the surprises and challenges every new moment brings to him, from the very step with which he embarks on the journey. He takes him wherever the roads take him and will willingly tread through even a perilous trail through thickets.
Tourist: After having completed all that he set out to see, in no time the tourist will yearn for his bed and “ghar ka khana”. Even if he is physically present at a place,
Traveller: For a traveller, home is where the heart is. He will nestle anywhere he feels at home, which could a dingy room in the corner of a local home stay or a hammock under the palm tree
Do you want it or do you need it?
Tourist: The tourist will always end up carrying more than what they need “just in case” they need it, no matter how unreasonable it sounds.
Traveller: A traveller carries the bare essentials needed to survive. The light travel helps them move around faster and even psychologically, it’s less baggage.
Do you dare?
Tourist: Tourists are not famed risk takers and plays it safe with the known devil.
Traveller: A traveller’s true spirit is that of a dare devil, always looking for thrills that fulfil his adrenaline rush.
Do you stand out or blend in?
Tourist: A tourist will always feel comfortable and safe moving in crowds and will not interact much with the locals.
Traveller: The traveller is in it for the local experience! They will try and adapt to their way of living, speaking and eating and will indeed enjoy every bit of it!
See or observe?
Tourist: Once the shutterbug opens, the tourist will click every sight he sees and fill social media with selfies of famous sights in the backdrop. Although there is no harm in sharing one’s journey, he almost ends up visiting the place from behind the lens.
Traveller: A lot of travellers are avid and renowned photographers. In fact the travel bug has turned a lot of travellers into photographers. The only difference being that the traveller knows when to click and when to soak in a place, the experience of which cannot be framed.
Hear or tell?
Tourist: The tourist has done his homework well before the trip. He has visited every website and blog, pouring out pages of information about the place. Ask him anything, and he will tell you where to eat.
Traveller: A true traveller will always have a new story to tell, an experience not found in the pages of the official website.
Having said all of the above, it is for you to ask yourself the question now. Do you mean when you say you are #wanderlust?