Disney Traveler or Disney Tourist: Which Are You?

Disney Traveler vs Disney Tourist

Disney Traveler or Disney Tourist: How Do You Like to Travel?

I was reading an article the other day that talked about the travel trend towards being a traveler versus being a tourist.

I realized that being a traveler is very much the philosophy that I have always taken towards travel. And it’s the way I approach Disney (and all) travel when writing this blog (it’s also how I ran by business with my clients when I was as a Luxury Travel Advisor).

Being a Disney traveler goes against the conventional wisdom of how to approach a Walt Disney World vacation (or Disneyland, to a lesser degree). Most travel agents or online Disney planning sites seem to take the Disney “tourist” approach to booking Disney travel.

I don’t recommend that approach.

Being a traveler on vacation is something that I believe is far more rewarding and enriching, regardless of whether you’re traveling to Walt Disney World or the South of France.

Voyage of the Little Mermaid

Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

A Traveler Versus a Tourist: What’s the Difference?

The Traveler Defined

A traveler enjoys exploring a destination.

A traveler takes the time to observe and explore their surroundings. They tend to soak up the environment around them. A traveler does not schedule every hour of their day.

A traveler may judge the success of their vacation by the number of unique or unexpected things that they saw or discovered.

Of course, a traveler may also want to experience a few touristy sites when they vacation, but they’ll also go off-roading to see and experience things that interest them — things that most tourists will not experience.

Travelers ensure that their vacation has plenty of free time built in to allow this to happen.

The Tourist Defined

A tourist follows a more scheduled regimen.

A tourist is usually someone on a mission. A tourist takes a conventional approach to travel where they make sure that they check off as many of the most popular tourist attractions as possible wherever they visit.

A tourist may judge the success of their vacation by the number of things that they saw or did. It’s quantity over quality (which is all relative, of course).

A tourist is unlikely to sacrifice doing something popular from a guidebook versus a more unique or unconventional destination experience. This is understandable because the tourist measures success and satisfaction by the volume of things they are able to cover during their limited vacation time.

No Right or Wrong: Just Different

There is no right or wrong between these two approaches to a vacation: they’re just different.

As you read this right now, you’ve probably already identified yourself as either a traveler or a tourist. So you should try to do it the other way? Not necessarily. We tend to be wired one way or the other, so only you can answer that question. Sometimes you’ll find a mix of traveler types within a larger group of travelers. When that happens, you’ll often see the party split up at times to go off in different directions. And that’s perfectly fine.

Jungle Cruise, Disney's Magic Kingdom Park

Jungle Cruise, Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park.

Travel Freedom for the World Traveler — Disney or Otherwise

Since I am a traveler myself (and have been for my whole life) my travel blog will naturally appeal more to those who are also travelers.

I could jam pack a Disney vacation itinerary to account for every single minute of time, but that’s not something that I’d ever do. It’s also why I have never stayed at an all-inclusive resort, by the way. I enjoy exploring my surroundings and having a fair amount of free time to do what I want, and go where I want, in order to see what I want. My family (thankfully) feels the same way. As a result, we have a lot of fun on our vacations through exploring and not always knowing exactly what will come next.

Mission Space, Epcot

Mission Space, Epcot.

Walt Disney World for the Traveler in You

The most important thing is to know what kind of travel you prefer. If you are a traveler and you’ve never been to Walt Disney World before, then be aware that there is a lot to see and discover there and you will be rewarded for your efforts.

On the other hand, if you are more of a tourist type, then by all means be sure that you have a buttoned down plan for your Walt Disney World vacation. You’re going to need a plan to be sure that you get to see and do all of the things that are most important to you.

When it comes to a Walt Disney World vacation, my recommended approach is to be a Disney traveler. Sure you’ll have to schedule some portions of your Disney vacation, but much of the true magic of Disney destinations lies in the details of your surroundings. Give it a try and see what magic you discover on your next Disney vacation.

Looking for Expert Advice Planning Your Walt Disney World Vacation?

As a Luxury Travel Blogger and author of The Very Best of Walt Disney World Resort, I blog regularly about Disney vacations of all shapes and sizes.

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Mike Belobradic: The Finer Side of Disney Travel
Luxury Travel Blogger – Deluxe Disney Travel Specialist