The first time you’re in a new place you go slow. Everything is foreign, everything is new. The locals are immediately recognizable as the people moving fast all around you. They’ve seen this place a million times, and now you’re standing in their way. This is what it means to be a tourist.
Tourists aren’t exclusively in new places either, we find them in new environments too. Whenever chaos strikes, we become tourists. Changes in life, drama in markets, turbulence in a project, these all make us slow down and look wide-eyed at our new surroundings.
Our goal, personally and professionally, is to move from being tourists to experienced travelers. This is especially valuable amidst chaos, and it just takes practice and exposure. Locals move with intent and knowledge of the setting. Tourists move with curiosity and awe. Experienced travelers have cues and clues to help them navigate.
The experienced traveler is still in a strange place, but knows their intentions. They’re using a process to navigate the new. When something goes wrong, they don’t get hopelessly lost, they get strategically focused. Experienced travelers are professionals.
Just because we’re not traveling right now doesn’t mean we’re not experiencing new things. There are plenty of tourists out there being ignored. They’re in the way of the locals and at risk of being hit by buses while they squint to translate a sign. We can be the experienced traveler who helps.