Sunday, June 1, 2014

Travel vs. Tourism

This weekend's post is about travel. I'm currently traveling through parts of Europe, so I thought it to be an appropriate topic to write about. The primary purpose of my visit was to present at a research conference in Munich, but I also added some personal vacation days to my trip that is enabling me to travel to a few places in and around Munich. That said, I don't intend to write about my travel experiences on this post. That I reserve for a later post, and now just share some of my basic thoughts on traveling. 

Travel is probably one of the oldest activities that human beings have engaged in. People have been traveling from time immemorial, sometimes out of necessity but also to gratify their desire of see and experience exotic places. Whatever the motivations, travel can form deep impressions on our minds, so much so that some of the most significant contributions to the world were brought about by people who had traveled far away from the security and comfort of their homes. It is in this context that I love to travel. It is also in this context that I find it lamentable that most people today don't really travel and only engage in tourism. 

Tourism, according to me, is all about reaching a (tourist) destination as efficiently and comfortably as possible, checking off the attractions from one's list, and then quickly moving on to the next destination. It is not about deeply experiencing the journey. There sure are benefits to tourism, and even part of my current trip to Europe involves this type of travel. However, I think when we get too focused on checking off tourist destinations from our list of places we want to see, we are highly likely to miss the rich and valuable experiences that the journey to destinations can provide. We are also likely to miss many a hidden gems which are just not part of any tourist map. That is why, I am so grateful that I decided to be a genuine traveler and not just follow the path of a regular tourist on my current trip to Europe. Ultimately (in my experience), what leaves a meaningful and lasting impression in us are rarely the tourist attractions, but the experiences and interactions we had during our journeys and the unexpected discoveries we sometimes make during such travels.

View from the window of the living room of my host

Giving ride to a tired little girl (my friend's niece)

With my friend, Elisabeth at the oldest restaurant in Europe (St. Peter Restaurant in Salzburg, since 803 AD)

With my friend's mom at the entrance to the largest ice cave in the world

An evening of dinner and drinks with my generous hosts


  1. Whether U r a traveler in your tour.....or a tourist in your travel....I m sure that u are enjoying every single moment of your journey(travel/tour/anything apart from that).....I m xcited bout ur upcoming weekend posts

    1. Thank you, Dipu! I appreciate your excitement about the upcoming posts.

  2. Hope you make wonderful discoveries during your journey! Great pics! Enjoy!