Where am I on the Tourist or Traveler debate?

Trip Start May 04, 2010
Trip End May 21, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sometimes I like to ask myself a question and let that inquiry take a life of its own in my mind, heart and gut. I let the inquiry flow through me as I live the question.   Slowly I become aware of my own intuition and sense my way to a response.

For the past two days, I have been mulling over my perspective on the difference between a tourist versus a traveler.  Google these words and what is clear is that it is a much debated subject.   Check the Wikipedia for tourist and you will find this comment by Theobald (1994):  "When the word tour and the suffixes -ism and -ist are combined, they suggest the action of movement around a circle. One can argue that a circle represents a starting point, which ultimately returns back to its beginning. Therefore, like a circle, a tour represents a journey that is a round trip, i.e., the act of leaving and then returning to the original starting point, and therefore, one who takes such a journey can be called a tourist."   This observation strips away the often judgmental musings often stated in this debate.   It acknowledges a physical departure and arrival point while being wonderfully open in its possibilities.  It prompts one to find one's own answers to such questions as what do I need at this point in time in my life? Maybe it’s a time to celebrate, reinvent oneself, heal from an illness, have time with family or friends, time for romance, adventure, have time in nature, see places one has read about or … (fill in the  blank). We may be going from where we are now to another place literally, but we can also travel figuratively in search of something else; so, what is that something else on this trip?  Joseph Dispenza says that “conscious travel elevates the process of our journey and enriches our spiritual life”.   I try to bring these responses to my awareness when dreaming, researching and planning our journeys so that the places we visit, experiences that need to be reserved in advance, lodging choices and the pacing of the itinerary provide the framework for the “something else” to emerge and come out to play.    Two other ingredients are 1) ask myself what’s the rush? prioritize and leave plenty of time wherever we are  2) remember that foreign people are people too.  Make an effort to chat & interact with locals and not treat them like sightseeing objects.  Learn a bit of their language.  These last two ingredients provide a feeling of a journey of curiosity, exploration and discovery.
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