Some people can’t stand being called a tourist and much prefer the term, “traveler”. Personally, I don’t really care for labels but this title preference has allowed me to think, what exactly is a traveler? Before my journey abroad, I began reading travel books more often such as, The Alchemist, How to Travel the World on $50 a Day, and Vagabonding. The latter, by Rolf Potts, is the one book that really prompted this permeating thought about the concept of travel. Potts touches on this tourist vs traveler subject in his book by saying, "The tourist/traveler distinction has largely degenerated into a cliquish sort of fashion dichotomy: Instead of seeking the challenges that mindful travel requires, we can simply point to a few stereotypical 'tourists', make some jokes at their expense, and consider ourselves 'travelers' by default.”
Previously living in Miami Beach, Vagabonding really influenced me to begin living - to adopt the idea that travel is not exclusively wandering to faraway, exotic lands and spending a ton of money but traveling can be done in your own backyard. It’s more of a state of mind. I actually created an entire website dedicated to this topic of “living like a tourist" for a multimedia course I took my spring semester at FIU and the outcome was Relive Miami.
My friend Jena and I met up with a local, Raphael, in Spain last night for Tapas and vino. Dining outdoors on a terrace in Plaza de Santa Ana, we began discussing travel. We chatted about Europe, where we’ve been, and why it’s so great. Then, we moved on to the U.S. I caught myself being very pessimistic about what the U.S. offers in regards to travel. Raphael rebutted this by saying that it really depends what you’re looking for and that if you’re a nature lover, the U.S. offers an extensive array of different natural elements to enjoy. He then proceeded to ask Jena and I if we’ve ever been to the Grand Canyon - neither of us have - and he claimed it was the most beautiful place he’s ever been to in his life. This was one of those moments that allowed me to rethink myself. I realized, here’s a European telling me the most beautiful place he’s ever been to in his life is in my native country and I’m over here, across the Atlantic, in Europe, seeking new adventures, experiences, and places when these very things are offered in my backyard.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not regretting this European peregrination but, it has allowed me to have a better grasp on what this trip is all about. It’s about an experience. A great quote by Henry Miller
says, "One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeings things.” And this couldn’t be more true. I feel as if I'm Santiago from the novel, The Alchemist, ***spoiler alert*** where I feel the need to travel the world but will soon find out that my treasure was right in my backyard all along.