Why it’s Okay to be a Tourist: While Traveling to Savannah, Georgia with my Mother

Haven’t we all pretended to be better than tourists? As if we somehow fit into that level above. That’s because the stigma around “tourists” isn’t good. I once heard the quote:

“A TRAVELER SEES WHAT SHE SEES; A TOURIST SEES WHAT SHE HAS COME TO SEE”

I really enjoyed how this distinguished the difference. However, I’m here to admit that being a tourist doesn’t have to be all bad. Being a tourist doesn’t equate larger-than-life gaudy Hawaiian shirts, over-stuffed fanny packs, or socked sandals. Gross, right? It’s possible to be a classy tourist.

Smarten up: How not to look like a tourist

For your enjoyment:

  • Avoid daypacks.
  • Take the bus–but not tour bus.
  • Photograph less.
  • Eat off the beaten track.
  • Use Airbnb
  • Go somewhere less traveled
  • Don’t use a segway.

Just shut up and go

But if I’m not mistaken, aren’t we all just as outside of our comfort zones as the gaudiest of tourists? That’s what I thought.

A couple in the lobby of our hotel suggested the most touristy thing we could do: the Old Savannah tour bus. Mom was delighted by the idea. Gaudy tourist buses may not be my jam, but my desire for quality time with mom outweighed my reluctance. At least we’ll get a grasp of the historical squares in downtown, I reminded myself.

Thirty minutes after we left, I handed mom the room key. She lost it instantly.
“Am I the adult, and you’re the child?” I laughed. Mom shot me a glare.

Tourists can plan vacations around food. No shame.

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Goose Feathers Cafe

Before we boarded the flashy white tour bus, mom found a great-looking place to fill up our bellies for breakfast, Goose Feathers Cafe. It was a cozy little cafe hidden behind an unassuming awning next to a massive live oak. What grabbed our attention the most was the long line snaking out the door.

Must be delicious.

Here, the owner, Beth, rang up our order: mine was a birds nest with grits: homemade salsa, two poached eggs, a pinch of cilantro, and mom ordered an Italian breakfast panini. The food was unbelievably good!

Now on the tour bus, hundred-year-old oaks draped in Spanish moss passed us at every square. History was everywhere: Revolutionary and Civil War monuments, statues, and fountains decorated the busy squares.

Warming up with hot tea and cocoa

Tourists can go just for the history. Oh, the history!

Among our favorite sites was Forsyth Park, where the iconic fountain sat as centerpiece within the 30-acre park, and River Street, located down the old, steep brick steps beside the port of Savannah River. Here, old cotton mills have been converted into candy shops (my personal favorite: Savannah Sweets!) and bustling restaurants.

Despite the cold December air that day, we could feel the warmth of southern hospitality in every smile that passed us in the charming city of Savannah.

Fulfilling our tourist duties

Follow our second day in Savannah, GA via GoPro.

Follow our day in Charleston, South Carolina.

Follow our day in the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge.

Follow our day in Tybee Island.

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