I have always been an avid reader of Jose Saramago's fiction, so when I recently picked up his travel narrative, Journey to Portugal, I was pleased to discover that the book contains Saramago's distinguished voice and unique writing style, and that his non-fiction account of his travels through Portugal actually reads very much like a novel. This is probably due to the fact that throughout his journey Saramago refers to himself as "the traveller," which has the affect of transforming the non-fiction narrator into something of a character.
When referring to himself, Saramago is careful to make the important distinction between traveler and tourist: "The traveller has seen much of the world and of life," he writes, "and has never felt comfortable in the role of a tourist who goes somewhere, takes a look at it, thinks he understands it, takes photos of it and returns to his own country boasting that he knows [it]."
A recent article published in the New York Times by Ilan Stavans and Joshua Ellison,"Reclaiming Travel," takes Saramago's definition of a traveler even further, exploring essential questions about the art of travel such as, "what distinguishes meaningful, fruitful travel from mere tourism?" and "What turns travel into a quest rather than self-serving escapism?"
I am reminded of this distinction between traveler and tourist whenever I flip through one of our DK Eyewitness travel guides, books that are undoubtedly oriented toward the traveler interested not only in what to eat and where to sleep, but in picking up important literary, cultural, and architectural details about their surroundings along the way...