How to be a Traveler not a Tourist

  • Rule #1: Get off the tour bus! If you want adventure, you have to leave the comfort of large groups behind
  • Rule #2: Be inflexible with your goal but replace a fixed route with one open to change
  • Rule #3: Accept that getting lost in the backstreets of life won't be fatal, it's in "the gap" that the magic happens

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Graham D Brown - author of the guide

What are you going to learn in this section?

Being a traveler not a tourist is about choosing the right mindset to live your life. Every day is a choice between comfort and adventure. Our natural tendency is to be the tourist – retreat to our comfort zone.

Adventure means choosing risk. Without risk, you become comfortably numb. All the things we strive for – love, growth, happiness and experience – lie on the other side of risk.

This book is about challenging you to live like a traveler – to choose adventure, to manage and get familiar with risk. When you learn to dance with uncertainty and risk, you can fully experience the miracle of life.



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be a traveler not a tourist
  • How you face or avoid fear in your life will completely change the experience you have

Being a tourist sucks…

Not because I’m a snob who looks down on those who choose cheap package tours, but because of how these lifestyle choices shape us.

And what I really want to say is that it’s not a binary choice between being a Traveler or a Tourist. We have both inside of us. The Traveler is that voice of adventure. The Tourist is the voice of fear. How we allow those voices to control our life will ultimately shape how and what we experience from life.

Here in Japan, they complain about “Bakugai” – literally “explosive shopping”, the phenomenon of Chinese tourists cramming up the posh districts of Tokyo with their tour buses parked outside of the megastores of Louis Vuitton and Gucci. There are numerous blogs dedicated to profiling Chinese tourists as the most cringeworthy of cultural exports.

It’s not just the Chinese in Asia. It’s Brits in Spain, Russians in Thailand, Americans in Mexico etc. Wherever there are large groups of any nationality, there are horror stories. And the reactions are the same, “I love Americans, it’s just when you get them in groups…”

And that’s why being a tourist sucks, because when we behave in groups, it brings out the worst in us. Pink sunburned Brits in soccer shirts drink more beer, naive Americans get louder, annoying Chinese take more selfies and fat Russians pose in more speedos.

Any of these people, as an individual traveler, would behave differently.

  • Fear brings out the worst in us, like hordes of tourists

I find travel is a good analogy for life. You can choose to go through life as a Tourist or a Traveler.

The tourist and the traveler both have the same intention to go somewhere, but how they experience life is different.

  • Being a tourist is easy, comfortable but ultimately boring. Tourists experience life as a group, and their group behaviors – for better and worse – are amplified. For the Tourist, everything is organized. They have a tight itinerary which guarantees tourist sights, sounds and selfie opportunities because they fear missing out items on their bucket list. There are no gaps.
  • Being a traveler is hard, full of challenges but ultimately exhilarating. Travelers travel alone or in small groups. They tend to cut across cultural and geographical barriers. The Traveler, however, has a loose agenda. They have waypoints they want to get to, but the path to get there is reasonably flexible. It’s in the gaps, the real magic happens.

You can either be peering at the world from behind the safety of the tour bus or you can be out there getting lost in the backstreets.

  • The more you try to control your experience of life, the less rewarding it will be

So, what do you want?

This guide is about choosing to be the Traveler and not the Tourist, and that means how you experience life, what your goals are and how you build a business to get you there.

I want you to know that to succeed in this journey you need to:

  • Find other travelers
  • Spend less time with tourists
  • Get passionate about reaching the destination but be flexible with how you get there
  • Find a good guide

I’ll be your guide, but I won’t live that life for you.

I’ll show you the way, but you’ll have to get there yourself. I sometimes feel that when I write these guides, people want the whole solution mapped out. It’s not like that. There are some adventures you have to go experience yourself. I don’t have all the answers, but I have a map… so let’s get started.


adventure without risk is like disneyland

They say Disneyland is the “happiest place on the planet”… I’m not sure about that. Sure, it’s fun, it’s an escape. It makes me happy to see kids running around enjoying themselves. But, do I want spend the rest of my life there? Is it my life goal to go there?

Nobody ever became a better person going to Disneyland. Nobody ever faced a challenge that made them grow. Everything’s scripted. Everything’s safe. Everything’s too damned comfortable.

  • Risk is an important part of adventure
  • Risk doesn’t mean recklessly driving your car at 200kmh but risking the chance of being wrong
  • If you focus on removing risk from your life, you will become frustrated and unfulfilled

I believe life is an adventure, and the biggest adventure you can take is to live life on your own terms.

Adventure is fun, sexy and worthwhile. We all could do with a little more of that, right? Sure, it could go wrong; I can’t offer you any guarantees; adventure is never without challenge. You cannot have the Lifestyle you want without risk. But, if you take risk out of adventure, what are you left with? Disneyland…

  • You can’t have joy without pain
  • You can’t have experience without risk
  • You can’t have growth without learning

So be warned.

As a traveler, the highs are high and the lows are also lower:

  • You can have happiness, but you must also have pain
  • You can have freedom, but you must also have struggle
  • You can have adventure, but you must also have risk

So, yes adventure might be a risk, but which is the bigger risk?

  • To risk the adventure or to go to your grave with your music still in you?
  • To risk finding your voice or to waste a life trying to please other people?

Maybe the word “adventure” doesn’t tickle you… if that’s so, you’re in the wrong place.

But, if you get that narcotic tingling possibility every time you hear that word, you have already chosen the right path. Read on…



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