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Traveler or Tourist? Which one are you?

By: Jim Bamboulis

This post won’t have any pictures.  Text only.

Be forewarned that this isn’t a post about a particular destination.  Strictly a post about a topic that I’ve been wanting to write about for some time.

And let me stress that there’s nothing wrong with digital photography, social media or being a Tourist.  If that’s you, that’s OK.  However, I find something terribly wrong with how Tourists travel. It’s the style I have an issue with.  And that is what this post is about.

Here we go.

In my opinion, the one down side of digital photography is the fact that people have a chance to see the pictures they just took. Over and over again.

You know the ones I’m talking about.  They pose, often a few times with a few people (and sometimes alone), run to the camera and analyze whether their good side was taken, whether they bent their knee the right way, whether they should take another one with the other leg crossed a certain way, blah, blah, blah. You know what I mean.  Then after going over all of their options, they walk away and look for the next ‘must-see’ attraction on their bucket list. But the problem is, they barely looked at the first one!

I see this quite a bit.  And every time I do, I want to approach these people and say:  ‘Hey, do you realize that you just spent thousands of dollars to travel across the World to look at your camera’s playback MORE than the actual monument that you wanted to see in the first place’?!

So let me understand.  You plan a trip to, let’s say to Rome.  You made your way to the Trevi.  You’re standing in front of the Fountain. What an amazing moment, right?  You pose in front of it.  Look at the pictures you just took. Walk away from the Trevi after a few minutes, get a bit to eat, with little to no interest to look back at it, absorb the moment, consider the history you’re standing in front of, the significance of its existence, etc.

There’s no emotion to the visit.  Only the feeling of getting the right pose with the right person. That’s a shame.

It’s one thing to have an attraction do nothing for you emotionally.  That’s cool, there’s nothing wrong with that.  Some find interest in something and others don’t care much for. No issue there.  But if that’s what you wanted to see, shouldn’t you spend time ‘seeing’ it?

Maybe it’s not only about the awesomeness (or downfall) of digital photography.  Maybe it’s social media.  Maybe many Tourists are so consumed with the thought of bragging to friends, that posing is given more priority than appreciating a beautiful sight such as the Trevi Fountain, for example.  Go to be seen vs. see for yourself.

If that’s the case, then it’s a sad display of travel.  The priority should not be on the camera’s playback.  The priority should not be about “checking in” and wondering how you’re going to look on camera and how you will be perceived by friends on Facebook or Twitter.

If that’s your biggest priority when abroad, then you’re a Tourist, not a Traveler.

Where the Tourist lands, obliviously checks off the sights on the list by taking some pictures and moving on, the Traveler hits the ground running, sometimes even map-less, takes several pictures of several monuments, sits and appreciates the genuine emotion that comes with being in a city like Rome or Paris or Tokyo.  To a Traveler, the destination matters, but the soul-finding experience matters as much, if not more.  To a Traveler, it’s about quality over quantity, not the other way around.

Look, there’s nothing wrong with being a Tourist.  Cruises, for example often go on 14 day runs where people are often given a certain amount of time to get off the boat, look around and come back in time to take off.  Group tours hit several spots in a few hours and sometimes you have only 24 hours to see a place because of a layover.

I’m talking about those people who’ve got time.  Who’ve taken a few weeks to travel, explore, feel.

To those people I ask:  What’s the point of spending all that money when you could have photo-shopped the Trevi in the background on your Mac, put yourself in the picture and shared it with friends and family?  What a waste of time and money.

A friend of mine recently made it a point to take with him only one camera on his latest trip. An 80’s style camera with 35mm film.  He was adamant about doing this because he felt that during his recent travels, he found himself looking more at the quality of the pictures than the quality of the experience.

Bringing only this camera would force him to appreciate the trip more.  He didn’t care about whether he got the right shot (although it’s an important aspect, don’t get me wrong).  But he cared more about getting the most value out of his trip.

And ideally, that’s how it should really be for everyone, at all times.

Tourist or Traveler? Combination of both?  Don’t be shy.  We’ve all been guilty of putting more priority on posing than appreciating where we actually are during a trip.

Share your thoughts, positive or negative.  Would love to hear them.

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How do you cab it?

By: Jim Bamboulis

You need a taxi.  You find a taxi.  You step inside. You explain your destination.

And if you’ve just watched Taxi Driver with Robert Deniro, you may be inspired to add ‘step on it’ in a grungy New York accent.  Albeit tempting and funny, it’s up to you. Cabbies already have enough wise guys in their cars.  But who knows, you may get a chuckle and an inflated final tab. Lucky you.

Back to the point.

When you get into a taxi, do you find yourself unconsciously, automatically opening the back door, sitting and delegating from the back seat?  Sure, we all have.  Can’t help it, I guess.  But have you ever stopped to think about it?

I hadn’t. Until recently.  Nobody ever explained cab etiquette to me.  Does such a thing even exist? I guess it has always been understood that the first rule of cabbing it is to always sit in the back. Nobody ever asked why and it was never a conversation piece.  In my experience being in Toronto, almost everyone unconsciously hops in the back.  Nothing wrong with it, just funny.

Why do we do it?  After all, we don’t sit in the back when our spouse or sibling drives us somewhere.

Of course, when we travel in larger groups, someone ends up sitting in the front.  I’ve often been that guy and almost always strike up a conversation with the driver.  Besides small talk, I ask how many people on average sit next to him on a fare. The answer that comes back is ‘not too many’.

Is it a comfort issue? Is it a class issue?

It might be both but I think it’s neither.  It’s simply habit. Generally speaking, we don’t think much about habits like this.  Too many other things to think about.

I also think cabbies prefer having passengers sit in the back.  It’s safer and provides a space buffer between people whose relationship lasts mere minutes, from pick up to drop off. Nothing wrong with that, either.

How do you cab it? Are you an habitual back seat passenger or prefer to ride shotgun?

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