Immersing into different cultures is right up there with summit sunrises on reasons I travel. In complete honesty, and hopefully no offense, I struggle understanding the appeal of resorts. Don’t get me wrong, everyone needs a relaxing holiday every now and then. And trust me, any day on the beach or poolside is a good day in my book. What I dislike about the resort vacation is the mass tourism. Miles of luxury hotels and condos, with all-inclusive packages, tour offerings, and a private beach and pool. It frustrated me that of all the people visiting these places, close to none probably step outside of the tourist area and really immerse into the cultural and geography. “What’s the point of spending all the time and money to get to another country if you never truly immerse in the culture?” I ask.
“It’s important to remember, some people are travelers, and some are vacationers.”
Recently, a friend and I were having a conversation on how to travel better. Not only for ourselves, but others. How to be aware of the environmental impact, eat and buy local, etc. But also, what ‘traveling better’ means.
Travelers, by our definition, immerse completely into their surroundings. Street food, excursions they learned of from another traveler or elsewhere, making friends with locals…they dive all in. Typically, this includes a mindset to take in as much as possible, never staying in one place too long. The goal is to see and experience as much as possible.
Vacationers, on the other hand, are on a mission to unplug from the hustle and bustle, relax, and appreciate quality time. They may embark on a few excursions, spending the majority of their time at the resort enjoying everything it has to offer.
While each provides a different experience, both create an influx of job opportunities in tourism. An accredited tour booked by a resort puts currency in locals’ hand just the same as buying a snack from a street vendor. Not to mention the hundreds if not thousands of job opportunities at the resorts.
Thus, after no debate, we agreed Travelers and Vacationers each hold great opportunity to improve lives of others. First, by putting money into the local economy. Second, both have an incredible opportunity to be vocal on the importance of tourism and environmental impact. Choices like staying at properties who adhere to environmental guidelines, using a refillable water bottle, and eating local all hold the key to a sustainable future.
So, whether you identify as a Traveler or Vacationer, do what makes you happy, buy local, and keep consumption of resources at a minimum. This will help ensure future generations will be able to enjoy the same places in the same way.
I left our conversation with a renewed appreciation for all types of travel. Each vibe speaks to a different tribe. Yet at all boils down to the same goal – a break from the norm, a new experience, and enriched life. Such is a State of Unity.
Author: Cara Irene