Technically, travelers and tourists both are described as people who are visiting a place for pleasure. However, frequent travelers like to distinguish themselves from people who travel and stay within their comfort zone.
It is easy to stay within the parameters of your resort/hotel, but this is debatable as to whether or not you’ve actually gotten to know the place. There is a difference between people who travel and actively try to learn more versus people who travel to just getaway.
So, how can you tell if you are a traveler or tourist? While traveling you should ask yourself if you’re being spontaneous. Travelers don’t have a set schedule, just very broad ideas. Tourists usually eat at places that are familiar: chain restaurants, restaurants with menus in all languages, or somewhere they were told to go by hotels. While traveling, make an effort to support the smaller/local businesses. Although there may be a language barrier, make an effort to communicate, and eventually, you will learn! Rushing to big attractions is very tempting, but one should take their time. It should be a priority but running around to only see these attractions will occupy your mind. If one has the possibility, they should take buses, trains, or bicycles to their next location. These are also sustainable ways to travel. While taking these modes of transportation, one will see the region in its entirety. Lastly, is asking if you are getting to know the locals. This question is one of the main differences between tourists and travelers. Locals can be very friendly, and you may even learn about new places to visit. You may only have a couple of days in the area, but even 3-5 days of going to the same cafe would make an impression.
In short, a tourist is someone who ONLY goes sightseeing, while a traveler goes out of their way to get to know the local culture. Which one will you be?