How to go from being a traveller to a tourist in 5 easy steps

by Nicholas Bowditch

"Tourists don't know where they've been,
travellers don't know where they're going."
Paul Theroux

A good mate of mine is a travel snob. I don't mean he only flies first class and only stays in five star hotels - quite the opposite. His snobbery is in the fact that he would NEVER do those things.

He looks down his nose (or should that be up) at people who only travel for a week and stay in all-inclusive resorts in Fiji or Mexico. To him, travel must be difficult, dirty, possibly dangerous, but most importantly - cheap.

Now don't get me wrong, pretty much all of the travel I have ever done has been difficult, dirty, dangerous and cheap but now I am getting older (and wiser) and I am starting to wonder if there is merit in the easy, organised, pre-booked kind of travel.

So how easy is it to go from being a traveller (what I think I am) to a tourist (what I think they are)? I have compiled a short 'to do' list to make the transformation easier:

1. Get rid of the backpack.

Yes it's probably just a symbolic gesture but the crappy old backpack that has been around the world with me a few times will have to go. I will miss the scent of clothes that haven't been able to be washed for two weeks but I will get used to it. I will start shopping around for a smart little bag with wheels on it. After all, I'm not going to be climbing up waterfalls in some remote village in Morocco anymore now am I?

2. Find someone to travel with.

My fiance will be very happy with this suggestion but very few 'tourists' do it alone. For a start, the 5 star hotels that I am going to be staying in will charge me twice as much with a single supplement anyway so it just makes sense really. Plus, since I will be travelling to notoriously dangerous cities like Singapore, Vancouver and Cabo San Lucas, there is safety in numbers.

3. Start thinking hotels not hostels.

No more sleeping next to 15 other dirty scabby backpackers farting and snoring their way through a cheap-rum induced sleep in some dorm somewhere - no from now on it has be hotels, double rooms, no sleeping bags, most likely no bed bugs and best of all no Japanese girls rustling plastic shopping bags while they pack at 4am! (What is it about plastic shoping bags inside people's backpacks??? I think they should be banned from all hostels - not that i will care anymore...)

4. Source some extra money.

Since I will no longer be staying at places like the hostel in Chichicastenango that charged me 80 cents (US) for the night, I am going to need more cash - and lots of it. When you add in the private transfers I am going to need to get me from the airport to the hotel, mini-bar costs, tips to private tour guides and so on, it really starts to add up.

5. Stop caring about the world, the environment, or any of the people living outside of my hotel.

I mean, who really needs them anyway? I will be so deliriously happy sitting next to my massive pool in my massive hotel complex sipping ridiculously expensive cocktails served to me by my massively underpaid and exploited waitress, that I won't care what's going on outside the fortified walls will I?

It will never occur to me how fortunate I really am to live in a country where I take things like civil liberties, personal security and the availability of affordable fresh food and clean drinking water for granted.

I won't ever have to get a sense of perspective that comes from discussing with a young Colombian boy how his life was changed forever the day that rebel guerillas slaughtered his whole family so that people in the first world can have cheaper and more pure cocaine.

I won't care about any of that. Big pool, cocktails... remember?

So that's it. Just five easy steps and I will easily transform myself from traveller to tourist. My mate has it all wrong doesn't he? He can have his impromptu dance lessons with local folk in the underground clubs and fantastic street food and learning to speak another language by haggling in markets over hand-woven hackysacks.

I'll take the massive swimming pool anyday.

Wouldn't you?