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10 Steps to Take You From Tourist to Traveler

Keep calm and carry on

Pack only what you can carry and store or ship the rest.  Airports and hostels allow you to store your larger items while you explore the country or city  with your smaller backpack or bag.  And if you don’t need it, then ship it home! Don’t carry it around with you.

Sharing is caring

Tourists miss out on the quintessential life of the city by renting a car. Explore the city by taking public transit, walking it or partaking in a bike share.  You’ll be see the sights and feel at home as you share in the daily lives of the people around you.

Sleep around 

I’m not talking about picking a local up in a bar, I’m talking about shaking up the hotel routine.  Stay in an international hostel, couch surf with friends and family, or check out a bed and breakfast.


Purchase the gifts last.  Do you really need that Mao Zedong pocket watch in your first  few days in the city? No you don’t.  And besides, you might find a better deal later on and you’ll regret buying the first thing that catches your eye.

Use Cheap shots 

Free or cheap is picture-worthy, too.  Don’t spend your money to hit up sites and sights that you could get for free from another angle.  For example, in Shanghai I forwent the pricey visit of  the Oriental Pearl Tower and instead hit up Cloud 9, a Shanghai bar located on the 87th floor with sweeping views of downtown.   I saved myself $20 US – and got a drink out of it, too.

Put your money where your mouth is

Don’t splurge on the bed,  splurge on the good food.  A traveler saves up their budget on food — fresh fruit from the market,  fish tacos from the street truck  and the best Nepali food you can find in the city.

Pardon your French

Travelers take some time to learn the local language.  If you’re not traveling that far,  meet up with some  international tourists and go on touristy things with them — their fresh perspective will make it all worthwhile.

There isn’t an app for that

The only way to find the best in the city is by asking the locals and diving in by yourself. That restaurant might not be listed on Google, or visited by the travel channel:  don’t miss out on it!


Less pictures more memories . Don’t let you and a small lens be your only memory of the trip.  Put aside technology and absorb the trip.

Mind the Gap

Sure your home currency is worth a lot more, but watch that gap in logic that you can afford to get more.  Lots of tourists burn more than they realize because they think they’re getting such a deal on everything. 4 deals later and your cash flow looks bleak. Tourists spend on trinkets, travelers exchange for experiences. Travelers know the value of the items they purchase and use their money cautiously.

Good luck and have fun on your next adventure!

Filed under: Travel

About the Author

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Web dev + marketing = why I love my day job. | Marketing technologist. Past Secretary of SMCKC + Social Media Club. Kansas City lover.


  1. Great advice and thoughts. I do think though there is an element of snobbishness that some travelers create, looking down their noses at who they perceive to be mere tourists. At the end of the day it is each individual’s trip and each individual is paying for it. No one else really has the right to say what that indiviual’s trip should look like! What I do encourage others to think about is how to get themselves closer to people when they travel rather than just close to sights and carefully prepared culture. Thanks for posting !

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