Tourist or Traveler?

I may have mentioned before that working abroad is full of opportunities and amazing fun. However, it’s also full of just plain ole day-to-day stuff with frustrations and aggravations.

It’s funny though because now that I have been living in Istanbul for about three months, it feels like my life is just getting settled. The past three years my life could be summed up like this: searching, moving, managing, surviving, searching, moving, and smiling.

When I started to think about moving abroad, it was about six months before I actually got a job at the fair in Boston. Then it was a matter of picking up and packing my life in San Diego, moving to and living across the world, not really loving it there, looking for a new job, moving to another new country, and here I am. Happy. But it took a bit of time!

What has been interesting to me about living abroad is the other ex-pats. From the little experience I have with this lifestyle, it seems that people like to stick with their own kind. Even when traveling to other places, I find many of these people go and do everything together. I have done this too. But as I think about what I want out of life, I ask myself if I am a tourist or a traveler?

A tourist takes the tour bus, sees the required sights, and hangs with the people they came with. On the other hand, a traveler goes off the beaten path, talks with new people, and tries new things. Not because it’s a good travel story but because it’s life. For me as I think about my life, I would like to be a mix of both with a heavier emphasis on the traveler.

At this moment, I find myself now in a bit of an existential dilemma.  I want to be a traveler with my new life in Istanbul, but what do I really want out of my life here? And what are the steps to achieve this? I want to look back when this is all said and done and say, yeah, I was unafraid… this is who I am.

I see people pulling large carts of trash and others selling water on the rain soaked, exhaust filled highways as I head for home in my comfy bus. Mine is a first world problem for sure. That is not lost on me. And to think about it really, I am questioning things while living in Istanbul. Already feel ahead of the game.


  1. James Monahan

    Dear Claire,

    Thanks for sharing.


  2. Susan Wachowiak

    A very large emphasis on “Traveler”. You’ve always been that way.

  3. Jude Pidgeon

    What you focus on and desire will come to you. Sounds like you are in the middle of a sorting process between what you want and don’t want. Good for you! 😚

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