Tourist or Traveler?
They both journey to new destinations.
But they tend to have two different experiences...
One is more by the book and follows all the recommendations.
The other is a bit more adventurous and uses their curiosity to guide them.
I'm not going to say that one is better than the other, because it's more about preference.
Some enjoy diving into all the history and understanding how things were long ago.
While others prefer to talk with the locals and understand the reality of today.
Some enjoy going to museums and the stories they hold deep within.
While others prefer local gastronomy and the vision of today.
In the end, tourists and travelers both want to learn.
But they both walk away with different lessons.
And I prefer the lessons of a traveler...
You all have a home.
But no one knows it like you.
This is the beauty of traveling with locals.
You get an opportunity to see the city through their eyes.
Instead of letting media and other outside sources influence you.
This allows you to travel to places that aren't as well-known or as popular.
Instead of taking an hour-long bus ride, waiting in line, and then being disappointed.
That's what made my recent trip to Brazil with my girlfriend so special for me.
I got to see Rio de Janiero as if I were someone who had grown up there.
Yeah, we still hit up a couple of tourist spots, but at non-peak hours.
You know, just so we could take some pics like all the tourists.
But the rest of the time we were living day-to-day life.
Dinner with friends, hiking off-grid, being locals.
This makes you feel like you are a traveler.
And not another wandering tourist.
Your home is their home...
You used to need a camera.
But now we all have phones in our pockets.
And every one of us has the ability to take nice photos.
While spending three weeks in Brazil recently, I took a lot of photos.
But as I scroll back through them, it's not the touristy ones that I enjoy most.
The pictures I enjoy most are the ones that include people and relationships I built.
And if I was only concerned with the touristy stuff, I would have never captured these photos.
In fact, if I was concerned with the touristy stuff, I wouldn't have had the experiences.
There would have been no pictures to take, but that wasn't the case at all.
The pictures I have on my phone are from a traveler far from home.
One who spoke a second language just to be able to connect.
One who always showed up and tried to learn something.
One who wasn't afraid to ask questions and listen.
Pictures tourists take look like all the rest.
But the pictures that travelers take.
Haven't been taken before...
It's one of my favorite parts.
Trying the local grub in different countries.
In fact, I stay as far away from McDonalds as I can.
Because you can't let the comfort of home distract you.
Or you will miss out on all the local food that people survive on.
You also have to watch out for all the fancy foreign-run restaurants as well.
Yeah, they might have great bites, but you won't be a traveler in your destination.
Actually, it's almost like you are leaving your destination and trying to go somewhere else.
What kind of traveling is that? Tourism...
I like going to the local market, I like eating at the local bakery, I like simple but good.
While I was in Brazil, I managed to do all of the above and understand their fuel.
I also got to eat plenty of home-cooked meals made with love and kindness.
This all helped me understand the culture better and learn about Brazil.
And most times, I was able to share meals with friends and family.
Where I was able to learn even more about where I was.
Instead of sitting in a crowded noisy restaurant.
When it comes to food...
Tourists choose their meals for photos.
Travelers choose meals for taste.
Be a taster, not a taker...
We are all a bit different.
But I think we all have a traveler within.
Unfortunately, the media has created more tourists.
Now, it's up to you to unleash the traveler and quite the tourist.
If you have the opportunity to travel with a local, don't even think twice.
And if you can't travel with a local, try staying with a local aka AirBnB > Hotel.
You can use the reviews to find hosts that are local and more active with their guests.
If you do this, you'll find yourself returning home with unique memories and unique photos.
Photos that remind you of what it's like to be a traveler and the relationships you built.
And if you do both of the above, you will surely stumble upon some great meals.
Meals that might not have 5-star reviews, but have 5-star taste and soul.
Meals that when you have them again, will take you right back.
This is what traveling is all about in the end my friends.
It's about understanding a different culture.
It's about curiosity and taking risks.
It's about letting go of control.
Ironically, it's about people.
Not about places...
Steven Arthur George
Ps. - Now that I'm back in Portugal, you'll receive a post every two weeks!