The difference between a tourist and a backpacker is what confuses many and this has been one of those unanswered questions among tourists and backpackers as the debate rages on.

The easiest way to describe a backpacker is to say a backpacker is one who travels to experience different cultures and lead a way of life that is completely different from his or her own. Tourists, on the other hand, travel purely for relaxation and pleasure. ‘A Backpacker goes deeper, they crave freedom’.

Here are five differences between a backpacker and a tourist:

  • Backpackers wander, tourist arrive

A tourist plans every single day, and will be able to tell you exactly what they’re doing seven days from now, at an exact time. A backpacker will have no clue as to what they will be doing tomorrow, let alone next week. A tourist will be nothing but a slave to their schedule. They will visit “hotspots” or must see attractions and do everything tour operator tells them to.

A backpacker has no rules. He or she is ready to change plans in the blink of an eye. Their flexibility is enviable. They wander in search of something new.

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  • Luggage and their limits

‘A tourist expects the toilet paper. Backpackers carry their own (with the carton roll removed and pressed flat)’

A backpacker carries everything in a backpack; a tourist has suitcases trunks, boxes and a hotel room. A backpacker travels light carries only what he needs and is willing to carry. Tourist take most of their cupboards along, they do not worry about the amount of bags since they have people carrying it for them.

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  • Stay and the rates

A backpacker will do absolutely anything to save money, He or she will stay in cockroach infested hostels offering little or no electricity and having an acute water supply issue, and they spend nights in tents and sit around a fire over which they cook their dinner.

On the other hand, a tourist sleeps on sheets in a clean bed every night and they eat at nice restaurants (that don’t really serve authentic local food). You can spot a tourist at a buffet and a backpacker at a home stay.

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  • Travel and what is it entails

A backpacker is always on the move, sleeping on trains in the night and exploring places during the day. He will climb unto a crowded jeep made to carry 10 but already carrying 15, they are the ones who spend 12 hours on a train drinking old monk and playing UNO with newly made friends. Tourists are the ones in the air-conditioned coach; they call for private taxis and take tourist buses.

riding on jeeps

  • Money spent and saved

A backpacker saves a lot more of his money compared to a tourist by using public transport, staying in cheap motels and eating the local cheap food whereas a tourist burns his money by eating in fancy restaurants and calling for private taxis.

A tourist will be charged a price five times of what a local would pay and still be happy with it. On the other hand, a backpacker will first ask the locals what they pay for – goods and services included and then decide how much they should pay themselves.
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