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How to Be a Traveler, Not Just a Tourist

By Michael & Patricia Kasum

Fingertip Travel: Norway
Pat & Michael Kasum cruising a fjord, Norway


A world of difference exists between the mindset of travelers, who have the inquisitiveness to delve into a country with both hands, and the mindset of tourists, who are satisfied with letting a country pass at arm’s length while chatting with fellow tourists about other diversions. The insatiable curiosity of independent travelers drives them to learn about the history and culture of a destination before going. It then compels them to chat with locals and to fully experience (rather than merely visit) each locale.

We’ve traveled independently to hundreds of countries, regions, and island groups — and for us, it’s the only way to see the world. When we were in China on one trip, we stayed at a family farm, where we learned how to prepare local dishes that the locals ate every day but were a gourmet feast to our palates. We dined with three generations of a family who shared their lives and experiences with us. Invited to a dance in the town square one evening, we were expecting a traditional performance. To our surprise, the villagers showed us some new line dances, and when they observed us jitterbugging, they clambered to dance with us and learn the steps. The memory of that experience is as indelible as the Great Wall and the Yangtze River canyons.

Being a world traveler means saying goodbye to the passive, Disney World dioramas of cruises and package tours and saying hello to the adventure and excitement of exploring new places and immersing yourself in different cultures. You’ll rub shoulders with people who will reveal their lives, their families, and their views. You’ll discover new foods, and bring home recipes and ingredients to share with family and friends. You’ll also bring home photos of sights you saw, adventures you experienced, and new friends you made abroad. Most important, you’ll bring home memories to last a lifetime.


Interactive Guide to Independent Travel




Fingertip Travel Guide: How to Use the Internet to Become a Traveler Instead of a Tourist, by Dr. Michael Kasum, is a digital travel guide that you can download to your computer and use to plan and book a trip anywhere in the world.


Fingertip Travel: Cambodia
Taking local public transportation (ox cart), Cambodia









Enjoying local cuisine, Zanzibar
Enjoying local cuisine, Zanzibar











Whitewater rafting, Chile
Whitewater rafting, Chile









Petting cheetah, South Africa
Petting cheetah, South Africa















Michael Kasum, PhD, and his wife, Pat, live in St. Petersburg, Florida, from where they plan and launch independent travel expeditions to some of the world’s most fascinating places. Dr. Kasum, an expert in independent travel,  has traveled to more than 200 countries.

Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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