“Be a true traveler, don’t be a temporary tourist.” – Amit Kalantri
I believe a true traveler embarks on journeys that leave a lasting impression on their heart and mind. The voyage doesn’t have to be to another country or faraway land. It can be an exploration near home and the distance traveled not geographical, but one that is philosophical or experiential. A true journey doesn’t just yield miscellaneous facts, fleeting images, and banal stories. It always bears some kind of change, hopefully one of understanding and betterment.
The exploration of a true traveler is akin to a data gathering by an eager scientist, who tries to confirm her hypothesis, and hopes to discover something of use for the good of others. It might be like the thought process of an artist or writer. Their ideas, views or perceptions are brought together to form a new representation, story or composition that takes themselves and others along on a new journey.
Temporary tourism to me equates to a roughly planned ephemeral presence in places where you may or may not connect with the true nature of the place. People you meet are mere subsidiary characters in a short story. You may learn their name, and a few tidbits about them, but you never get to know them completely. You check off places seen, and experiences lived, on a list that will end up both figuratively and literally on the cover of a travel guide or the archives of a cell phone or computer image gallery. A temporary tourist can add any visitation to a list of places they’ve been, but can’t honestly say they lived the life or ate the food or drank the water, in the deeper sense. Their memories are in a picture form or journal log.
I will not say a person can’t be a true traveler during the course of a temporary trip. There could be moments of self-discovery, when an impressionable situation, experience, scene or person affects you deeply like a bolt of lightning could do. The new information goes straight to the long-term memory and engenders something akin to an irreversible chemical reaction. But that’s relatively rare, and the effect seldom reaches the level of a momentous passage of the true traveler.