“The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see”. – Gilbert K. Chesterton
Although I have traveled all my life, sometime in my late twenties I became a traveller. For most of my life I had been more of a tourist trying to rush around the world seeing as much as I could possibility see, never fully understanding what it all meant. It was in my twenties that I went on my first truly eye-opening trip to Peru. Within the first half hour of being on the ground, I was mugged inside a taxi and it was at that point I realized that the world is not a giant playground for me to explore yet a place for me to search for answers and try to understand.
It was in Peru that I first saw extreme poverty and what it does to people. Forcing mothers nursing their babies to ask for handouts through the glass window of a tourist restaurant while I ate. Motivating people to pick you out at the international arrivals of an airport, follow you in a trailing car and at the first chance, bust open your car window with a bat and steal a backpack with only a hairbrush, makeup and book. Unknowingly hiring a company that employed native Peruvians to walk nearly barefoot for three days, carrying 30 pounds of my stuff on their back so I could hike the Inca trail without the hassle.
This was my first eye-opening experience into a world that is much different from the one I had perceived. A world that is unfair, unjust and inequitable. I had finally opened my eyes to the reality of what I was seeing and from that point forward changed myself from a tourist to a traveller and even one step further, a world citizen trying to make a difference.
Over the past twenty years, travel has become much more available to people and more people are traveling than ever before. Travel isn’t only for the rich or the hippies or the retirees, but for anyone who has a passport and some financial means to pay for a trip.