Most people don't want to be labeled or categorized, but let's face it, there seems to be two kinds of travelers. There is the tourist – the person that arrives in a new destination with the checklist of must-see attractions, and more often than not, stays at franchise hotels with predictable features no matter where they go. The tourist doesn't get too far off the beaten path without a guidebook or a guide. What's not to love about the salt spray in your face as you make your way to Alcatraz, or the feeling of national pride you feel when visiting the Statue of Liberty, and the sense of romance that comes gazing at Paris from the Eifel Tower. Iconic landmarks will always be a part of travel and checking the boxes has value.
At the other end of the spectrum is the New Traveler – the person that arrives in a new destination in search of adventure, an authentic experience. The New Traveler develops a relationship with the destination, the culture, and enthusiastically indulges the senses with local food, music, art, and new -found friendships. The New Traveler pays attention to the details from the choreographed to the magic moments that happen spontaneously. Destinations that honor simplicity, beauty, authenticity, spirit of place have staying power with the New Traveler. Intuition and nuance are their guiding principles when seeking out their next journey, be it a city, a safari, a resort or a hotel.
The New Traveler asks what can I do to help? They are interested in the dialogue, not the monologue so prevalent in the tourist's experience, The New Traveler is a solution seeker and a student of life who wants to contribute to the highest human potential whether it is health care, clean drinking water, education, human rights, or conservation. They want to know what is going on where they visit and contribute to solutions with their resources in whatever form seems meaningful.
The New Traveler is incredibly loyal, spreading the gospel of their experience with friends and family. This is the New Traveler's currency - sharing stories of their adventures and being a self-proclaimed expert on the authentic and undiscovered.
Immersion and experience are the words of the time, and are timeless for travelers versus tourists. Collecting data and taking selfies, running through destinations and time zones for bragging rights is exhausting and hollow. Time is precious, how we spend it imprints the New Traveler more then ever and the creative bar equates to authenticity and story, the engaging tale of the experience and how it feels. A great Facebook post can inspire, Instagram photos are gorgeous postcards of one person's worldview. These are key prompts but not the whole story. Not even close.
Go far, go visit and live life.