Hello fellow Traveller!

My name is Gian, I just turned 40 and I have been exploring the world for a while. In 2010 I was traveling across Thailand and I had a nice surprise in Chiang Mai: while reviewing my pictures sitting down in the yard of a buddhist temple, a monk came to me to practice his English. At the end of a nice conversation, he gave me a blue silk scarf: he explained that it was a Mongolian khadag, a symbol of the revered sky and a traditional present to travelers to protect them in their journeys. Since then, my blue khadag always comes with me wherever I go.

Stromboli

Why another travel blog?

Everything started with a private blog I used to run to keep family & friends up to date with my travels. I was surprised by the speed at which this information spread, with my friends and their friends using it to plan holidays. I then decided to put everything online, so that more people could benefit from this knowledge.

So what is the main difference with other blogs? There are hundreds of other blogs, some have developed in the last years and provide inspirational stories and photos: I find myself reading them as a source of inspiration. But I feel that the trend of these blogs is becoming too extreme, passing the idea that you can travel indefinitely with just a minor investment: have you noted that all of them have a link to “How I quit my job and started to travel around the world”? That would be my dream too, but is it really feasible? And more important: is it really necessary?

Let me try to answer these two questions.

Is it really feasible?

Well, yes.. sure it is. You just need to quit your old job, start a blog and earn money with ads, right? Not really. As much as I admire (and envy) those bloggers, looking at them as a suitable business model for your life is a flawed approach called survival bias: the people who run a blog and earn enough money are just a tiny minority. There are thousands of people who quit their job, started to travel around the world but failed. Of course they made a great experience, but they had to go back soon. You will never hear from those, there will be no blog telling us their unsuccessful stories. So please, don’t quit your job. It might be boring and frustrating, but unless you have a solid alternative, this is the source of cash for your travels.

Is it really necessary?

Everyone would love to travel indefinitely, but let’s be realistic: not many of us can afford that. But the point is: it is not necessary to be constantly on the move, you can still have great trips on your annual leave: it is just a matter of correct planning and budgeting. I am lucky to be working in Germany: with 30 working days off each year, I can plan at least two long trips (generally of 2 & 3 weeks) plus some weekend get-aways. Probably you will not have that “vagabond” feel, but I can assure you can still experience the world as a real traveler!

The difference between a traveler and a tourist.

There has always been lot of noise around these two words with self proclaimed “travelers” bashing those considered “tourists”. I never quite understood what was going on until I started to travel more extensively.

I remember my first real trip was a classic North to South California tour with a couple of friends. We were determined to plan it ourselves, so we started to read books and guides well before departure. As soon as we landed in San Francisco, we rented a car and off we went, moving between locations but keeping a flexible schedule. It was a great trip: we saw a lot, ate more and met fantastic people. But something ruined the atmosphere at the end of the holiday when we met a group of backpackers. What I thought to be my first self organised, long distance, on the road trip, was dismissed by them as a tourist tour.

Why? We went to Las Vegas, classic tourist destination; we were sleeping in hotels and not hostels; we were traveling by rental car and not by bus; we have been in California for 3 weeks whereas they have been there for months; we were spending money wheareas they were looking after the penny. So we were the tourists and they were the travelers.

I never accepted these argumentations but nowadays they are becoming more and more common: some people are now pushing it to the limit and it is not unlikely to be treated unpolitely just because of that. This is totally ridiculous and in contrast with the open mindness that traveling should provide.

So is there any difference between a traveler and a tourist? Yes, I believe there is but it is not how long you travel for, where you sleep and what you eat but rather the level of experiences you are gonna make during the journey! No preparation prior to your trip, stay in a guided tour, eat a pizza wherever you go and you will more likely be a tourist. Read about your destination, plan and travel independently, establish contact with locals and you will be a traveler.

You see, the difference is just between having a passive or a proactive approach to travels and this must not be the basis for any discrimination. In the end it is not a bad thing to be “just a tourist”: everyone in fact started from there and some evolved to the next level. For some other people being a tourist is the starting and ending point: no harm in that, but it is important not to get stuck in that role and reject other experiences beforehand. Too often I see large groups of tourists who are afraid to do anything without their guides..

This is a very controversial topic and I would like to hear your opinion. Let me know what you think in the comment section below!