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Neither a Traveler Nor a Tourist – Are You A Moovist ?

I don’t like to be described as a traveler nor as a tourist. I’m something else. Since no word exists, I’m going to coin it here. I am a Moovist (pronounced Moove-ist).

I’ve met lots of people who are away from home. Among the backpacker crowd there is always that cute declaration that they’re not tourists, but travelers.

In fact, it really is a way of judging and saying “I do things better than you!” There are so many cute definitions of the difference between travellers and tourists, I know, I’m using the word cute a lot. It’s by intention. It’s derogatory. I’m using it to belittle people. Maybe, I’m insulting you with it. I don’t know. I don’t care. Actually, I do care since I’m doing it with clear intent. If you are one of these people who likes to say you are a traveler not a tourist, I’ve just intentionally insulted you. So there.

touristBefore you get your panties in a bunch, kindly think about the insults you are heaping on all those chubby tourists who just want to see a bit of the world so that they can go home and tell their friends what they saw and thus show that they are better than their audience. I’m not saying you shouldn’t insult them too, I’m just saying that you probably deserve to be insulted just as much. So, here I am harshing on your patagonia pack, custom trekking boots, high tech travel gear, and lonely planet phrase books.

Go ahead, get angry and then go home and show your pictures to your friends and tell them about how you ‘lived’ among the Sussi people and took part in the yearly mating rituals of the Yanomami. What are you really doing traveler? Are you doing anything very different from the tourists? If I’m missing something, tell me about it.

travelers in RomeIf you’re like me, you’re neither a traveller nor a tourist. Not really anyway. I never knew what to call us so I decided to make up a new word – Moovism, Moovist. We’re not on our way around the world (at least not with a timetable that falls within 1-2 years or with a set agenda), we don’t have the money for fancy travel gear or cameras, we aren’t even really traveling…we’re moving. There is a big difference.

If you want to tell me I’m wrong and point to the many places I’ve been, then you need to look at this blog a little closer. Reread some posts about the places I’ve been.

In 1995 I moved to Raleigh, North Carolina thinking it would be great. It wasn’t what I expected.

In 1996 I moved to Bellingham, Washington. It was and is great, but I wanted to be more than a big fish radio guy in a small pond. Besides, I wanted something different in terms of culture and weather.

In 1998 I got rid of my things again and moved to both Alaska and the UK with the intention of staying, though I didn’t.

In 2001, I got rid of all my possessions and went to Asia looking for a home. I wandered from China to Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, and a few other places and ended up in Sumatra where I took a job teaching and started to build a life. This was at the point that George Bush was starting to create problems for Americans living in Muslim countries and I took the advice of my friends in Parapat and ‘went home for my own safety’. Only when I got back to the USA did I realize I had made a terrible mistake.

Is this a tourist? Later that year, I again got rid of everything and jumped to Hawaii with $100 and no plan but to escape the insane American patriotism that was gripping the USA post 9-11. I didn’t have enough money to go back to Asia, so I went to Hawaii where I thought there would be less fervor and insanity. I was right.

I admit that while in Hawaii I did some ‘traveling’ and some ‘tourism’ while exploring the other islands and going to Tahiti although with the Island of Kauai, I moved there for almost 2 years.

In 2003 I went to the Philippines and planned to stay but when the plot of my girlfriend’s brothers to kill me and my brother was discovered, I had to abandon my plans of building a mead empire in the barangay and my bride to be too, after all, when you marry a Filipina, you marry the family and if they want to kill you with big knives, it’s not a good sign of things to come.

After that, I stayed in Hawaii until 2008 when I achieved a degree in Anthropology from the University of Hawaii and once again got rid of all my possessions and set out to find a new home outside of the USA.

I made my way to the East Coast of the USA in the cheapest way seeing the people and places I didn’t want to miss and then I jumped the pond to Spain, started exploring Europe in search of a place to live (Granada almost had me!) and then to Morocco where I fell in love and lived for nearly two years, though I did have to make a trip back to the USA to fix my paperwork so I could get married and I arranged my necessary movement to accommodate seeing some places I’d never been (travel and tourism – see? I’m guilty too) Germany, Ireland, France, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, Spain, Portugal, Quebec, etc.

Are they travelers? The point is that I was actually on my way to someplace for the purpose of living there. I wasn’t just traveling to see, though I admit that in all of my moovism there is an element of both the touristic and the travelistic. I mean, I want to see places and things along the way. I believe that the journey is just as important as the destination and in some cases, more important. I’m a traveler and a tourist and for that, I deserve to be insulted and belittled too. Maybe I’m just confused. Somehow though, travel and tourism just seem – fucked up.

I came to Turkey- not as a tourist but evaluating if it would be possible to move here with my wife. Sure, we did a lot of travelistic and touristic things, but mainly we were looking to see if we could live here. We decided yes and so back in Morocco, I got rid of just about everything she would let me and I moved again.

Look, seriously. I’m not dissing you travelers out of spite. I love that you go out and see the world. I’m not dissing the tourists without a purpose either, I love that they are expanding their worldview (and their wastelines). If they hadn’t of shown those slides, maybe you never would have left home, but what I’m saying is that I don’t feel at home with travel or tourism as it exists anymore. You both make me envious, excited and slightly disgusted at the same time. We need to rethink global tourism.

So, by way of closing here is my new ‘cute’ breakdown of the difference between travelers, tourists, and moovists.

tourist burgerTourist – Someone who has a set agenda, knows what they will see, where they will be, and when they will return to home, family, work, etc.

Traveler – Someone who travels without as many known details as the tourist but still plans to return at some point to home, family, work, etc.

Moovist – Someone who gives up home, family, work, etc. and sets off to another place with the intention of staying for an indefinite period of time and no plans of returning to home, family, work etc. I suppose, you could also say a Moovist is a vagabond.

I’m a Moovist although I admit, I’ve also been a tourist, a traveler, and of course, I remain a vagabond. Maybe I’m worse than a tourist because I don’t spend as much money and worse than a traveler because I don’t go away at the end of the day. I don’t know.

What about you? How can we improve the act of travel? What is wrong with global travel today? What is right with it?

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Vago Damitio

Mr. Damitio  (@vagodamitio) is the Editor-in-Chief for Vagobond. Life is good. You can also find him on Google+ and at Facebook

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