This multi-authored blog is dedicated to people who want to explore the world as tourists, travelers or visitors. Learning along the way.
The trichotomy just offered (tourist – traveler – visitor) seems to represent a natural evolution. We think of a tourist as someone who signs on to a trip that has been planned and organized by a tour operator. The tourist then travels, as part of a group, along an itinerary of pre-established destinations.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with visiting a country as a tourist. Many people lack the time or expertise needed to plan their own itineraries. They may simply be bewildered by the ever wider range of possibilities on the market, or simply fear the unknown. Whatever the case, many people (in North America at least) have limited vacation time and so may feel the need to travel efficiently in order to “see” as much as possible. They are, in effect, paying a fee to the tour operator in order to avoid waiting for the next train to arrive or the museum to open.
Travelers are likely to stay a bit longer than tourists usually do. Most come as part of a couple, but a few come by themselves or as part of a threesome. Travelers take an active role in planning their trips. They consult guidebooks, watch travel videos and quiz friends about trips they have taken before buying a plane ticket.
Some writers seem to regard travelers as worthier creatures than mere tourists. For example, G.K. Chesterton wrote that “travelers see what they see, tourists see what they came to see” and Paul Theroux opined that “tourists don’t know where they have been, travelers don’t know where they’re going”. Chesterton may have been right in part, but we have encountered travelers with no enthusiasm for the unexpected and even less interest in shedding a pre-established views of their destination. As for Theroux’s comment, we think most travelers know full well where they want to go and how they’ll get there. They simply leave room for serendipity.
Some travelers later become visitors to a town or region that has delighted them on a previous trip. The transition from “traveler” to “visitor” may be the result of a long-term strategy or may arise from personal connections or happenstance. The trips of a visitor are apt to be planned farther in advance, for longer periods of time.
The TLN blog welcomes questions and comments from people who are currently planning a trip. Or from anyone else who is beginning to get serious about traveling in an intelligent, creative and fulfilling way.
We are especially attentive to the needs and interests of North Americans over the age of 55. We know you are getting lots of colorful brochures and enticing offers in the mail and in your e-mail box. You wonder which of these trips will suit you best, which will be most enjoyable and memorable. You may even be trying to decide something more fundamental: whether to join an organized tour or else take the time to read, study and plan your own personalized itinerary. These are personal decisions, of course. We believe that both approaches are valid and hope that the contents of the TLN blog will help you decide.
Members of the TLN team believe that there’s always something new and fun to learn, even for the most seasoned world traveler. When at 87 years of age of Michelangelo was queried about his technique and art making, the greatest artist of the Italian Renaissance replied ”ancora imparo” [I'm still learning].
Posts to the TLN blog cover a wide range of topics that all relate to the theme “traveling to learn, learning to travel”. Our posts will address issues, debates and current discussion on questions such as:
- What makes a trip satisfying and memorable?
- Can a trip change your life or the way you view the world?
- How can we respect the people and places we visit and environment we all share?
- Is it possible/desirable to live in a foreign country rather than just visiting?
- Why do we travel? What is it, really, that we’re looking for?
- As we get older, how can we prepare to meet changing interests and needs?