The Great Debate: Travelers vs. Tourists

According to Merriam-Webster

Traveler (noun)         

: someone who is traveling or who travels often

: a person who moves around from place to place instead of living in one place for a long time


Tourist (noun)           

: a person who travels to a place for pleasure  

: one that makes a tour for pleasure or culture

While exploring the Basilica Cistern below the streets of Sultanahmet, we couldn’t resist this photo opportunity. The chance to dress in Ottoman costumes in ancient Istanbul was one that we didn’t want to pass up, even if doing so made us look like “stereotypical tourists.” Why the quotation marks? Well, because this picture makes me think about the great travelers vs. tourists debate which usually results in travelers gaining more credibility and a higher ranking on the travel pyramid. But truth be told, I’m not sure why. Based on the above definitions, don’t people who travel often (i.e., travelers) also travel for pleasure or culture, and can’t people who travel for pleasure or culture (i.e., tourists) also travel often? Is there something beyond these definitions that distinguishes the two groups? Are travelers’ experiences somehow more authentic than tourists’? When it comes to the great debate, are travelers really better than tourists, or is the whole idea just a bunch of crap?

I think it’s crap. What do you guys think?