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20 reasons it's great to be a tourist

By Duncan Forgan, for CNN
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 0711 GMT (1511 HKT)
Riding an elephant in the chaos of Indian traffic may be nerve-racking, but it's still better than sitting on the couch flicking channels. Riding an elephant in the chaos of Indian traffic may be nerve-racking, but it's still better than sitting on the couch flicking channels.
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Beats what they're doing back home
Hotels!
You learn through experience
New music is everywhere
You eat food usually seen only on TV
Experiences are invaluable
You're not at work
Even rain can't dampen your mood
No gym guilt
Calories don't count
Fresh off the plane pheromones
Perpetual weekend
You suddenly have time to read
Happy hours are anytime
Silly poses are OK
It's OK to look like ... a tourist
Pointing takes the place of cooking
You can mingle, then escape
Tan is better than no tan
It's OK to leave your laptop behind
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • More people are traveling internationally than ever before
  • To mark World Tourism Day, we honor camera toters and museum goers the world over
  • Hotels! Find a great one and you'll never want to leave
  • Been looking for some pleasure reading time? Go on vacation

(CNN) -- With their worldly sophistication, ready cash and penchant for smiling all the time, tourists can be a much-hated group.

But before you laugh at the starstruck look in their eyes or mock the clattering chaos of their attempts to follow a tour group leader, understand this: they don't care.

They're having the time of their life -- and more people than ever are joining them.

According to the latest UN's World Tourism Organization (WTO) figures, international tourist arrivals grew by 4.6% in the first half of this year.

Some 517 million international tourists arrived at destinations between January and June 2014, 22 million more than in the same period in 2013.

And we all know why.

Being a tourist is awesome.

So awesome that the WTO has set an annual day of observance to highlight tourism's social, cultural, political and economic value.

In honor of World Tourism Day, celebrated September 27, we've compiled 20 reasons it's great to be a camera-toting out-of-towner with a sudden need to stand in line for a Renaissance art museum.

What are your favorite things about being a tourist? Drop a note in the comments section below.

1. You can eat like a feudal lord every night, and still lose weight from all the walking.

2. Whether you're terrifying yourself on local transport or basting yourself in the sun next to a bag of beer, it beats what your friends are doing back home.

3. The guilt attached to not utilizing your gym membership is far less severe than it is back home.

\
"What day is it?" "Feels like Friday."

4. Cold beers on the beach/in a hammock/in bed/in a bar in the middle of the afternoon? Don't mind if we do.

More: 8 best beer towns in the USA

5. Bringing home a tan and worldly knowledge is like dousing yourself in pheromones.

6. You can finally finish that book you've been falling asleep with every night for the last three months.

7. The weather. Even the rain seems somehow exotic when abroad.

More: In defense of rainy days -- why drizzle shouldn't ruin travel

8. The buzz of walking around a new place on a Wednesday morning knowing you're not at work? Can't beat it.

9. Hotels are like mini-vacations unto themselves, with someone always on hand to clean up the bathroom and serve you drinks downstairs.

In any other clothes you\'d look out of place.
In any other clothes you'd look out of place.

10. You can wear anything. Baggy Thai fisherman pants with a beer singlet? Go on, no one will bat an eyelid.

More: 7 travel fashion trends that should be banned

11. You learn about the country you're visiting through experience, rather than National Geographic. Or CNN Travel.

12. You don't have to wait til 5 o' clock to declare happy hour. Start anytime.

13. From fried monkey toes in Indonesia to a perfectly grilled steak at Peter Luger in New York, you get to try local specialties previously seen only on TV.

More: A traveler's guide to eating insects

14. Those childish antics people get up to in pictures -- fingertips on the top of the Eiffel Tower, posing with fake gladiators at the Coliseum -- yep, you get to do them, too.

15. The nearest you get to cooking is pointing at the fish you want grilled for your dinner.

16. You get to mingle with a range of nationalities. Then escape them the next day.

More: Who are the world's worst tourists?

Do you really need to hear \
Do you really need to hear "La Cucaracha" again? Go ahead, request it, they won't mind.

17. Nothing beats vegging out on a plane or beach with your favorite new playlist blasting through your ear buds. Except discovering a world of musicians eager to introduce you to new music from Mexico to Morocco.

18. Tanned fat looks better than pale fat.

19. Extravagant spending is easily justified when you're traveling. When will you ever get back here? Might as well make the most of it.

20. You can jettison your mobile phone and laptop without stress. Phileas Fogg wasn't online for hours at a stretch every day and you don't have to be either.

More: Postcards vs. the Future: 10 "endangered" travel items

What are your favorite things about being a tourist? Share them in the comments section.

Originally published November 2013, updated September 2014.

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