I was a tourist once and I have been traveller for more than a decade. The realisation that I am no longer a regular tourist happened during my trip to Singapore 10 years ago.
Singapore has a great Airport and everything worked smooth as per plan. Within 48 hours I realized, it’s not the destination for my kind of people. It was an experience taking a sneak peek into a highly organized society, but it wasn’t too difficult to relate an organized society to high cost of living, homogeneity (Global brands, fashion but very little of originality or ethnicity) and the ultimate capitalism exhibition.
However there were thousands others who were happy to be there and enjoying Theme parks, Shopping and a city break experience that was on offer. So it boiled down to understanding my unhappiness and still making sense out of happiness of others.
As a well-traveled individual I need to be able to see and experience beyond the norm and the obvious. Anything in its original authentic unique form is what gets me excited and anything that’s touristy, man made and lacking a character / charm is a No No. Off course not everywhere every time everything needs to be authentic / original but in a trip to get excited there must be something that gets you thinking and presents something from the past or something preserved and presented from a world unknown to me. As a tourist, I guess others were happy to spend some time doing what everyone does. I remember I was once that way long time ago.
However as time and destinations went by, a sense of routine stepped in and resulted in some experimentation that led me to understand kind of places I as an Individual like to travel to. Travel, after Singapore trip made me realize is a reflection of the ones personality and urge within. India being several countries / cultures and civilizations within a country, exposes one to so many original forms of experiences that to us countrymen also it comes as a surprise and no wonder for a well informed traveler traveling from outside India, its treasure waiting to be discovered.
The history takes one back in time and realize from where our forefathers came in. The culture perhaps makes one realize the diverse world we live in. Extent of diversity is amazes you as to how little we know about our own world. Cuisine and its diversity often looks like a continued journey in exploration where every stop presenting its own unique fervor. Off course for a tourist, any uncertainty or lack of familiarity often equates to an unpleasant surprise.
They are most happy to find a Dominos or a Mcdonalds but would dither to try anything local and different. My best memory of Mauritius food could either be a toss up between a Sandwich made out of spicy local paste having unusually long loaf of bread or some fried snack I picked on a local market. I guess the well traveled has the confidence (may I say audacity) to understand what to try and what to avoid and is in a position to take risks based on earlier travel experiences.
A Tourist perhaps is too unsettled or scared to try spontaneous variations. I guess as some point a tourist makes a transition to being a traveler. There are some who refuse to do so and some others follow a fixed template every time that they travel. All tourists don’t always care as much for their trips to make that transition. I guess at the end its ones own personality and upbringing that decides how one eventually grows up to treat travel.
For some luxury and comforts are the first and the last words with everything else taking a backseat, for us travellers its the authentic experience that matters above everything else. Family travelers run with having to balance between two or three paradigms (Husband may be explorer, wife many be a luxury seeker and kids may be wanting more activities). For those who have just begun, may just want to do what everyone does before even start to instrospect. Yes I guess those were the ones I met at Singapore and after having thought through this, the whole traveller world made made complete sense.
A tourist would enjoy view point, popular sightseeing options, shopping and comfortable modern hotel stays. A traveller would enjoy local cuisine, heritage walks, heritage hotel stays, craft village visit and local experiences.
The Singapore trip was a turning point in the way we sell travel. We at Nivalink started looking at our customers as travellers with different profiles and preference. We as a travel company evolved our recommendations to suit different types of customers be it a tourist or a traveller or one of many shades in between !!