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October 18, 2012

Travel is not just a multimedia project

Do we really need to scrupulously record our travels in this decade?  After reading this article on packing a “multimedia backpack,” I am confused: as much as the suggestions are important, do we really need to “go forth and journalize”?  Possibly yes. Most traveler types dream to earn a living by doing what they love: visiting far flung destinations, meeting different people and exploring alien cultures. It is indeed very inspiring to think we may just get out and transform our digital travel memories into first grade – albeit do it yourself – storytelling material. It is exciting to think that low cost, accessible technology may be the key to a “New Wave of Travel Writing” that reminds me of the spontaneity and freshness of the New Wave and Punk music genres when they first came about  in the ‘70s.

There is a catch, tough: as with such music genres, the quantity of the offer surpassed its quality. Furthermore, it eventually attracted the shark’s fangs of the corporate music business, ultimately becoming the new, alternative options of the same business’ corporate offer. Back then, the impulsive virulence of punk rock transformed into another product to be packaged and sold to hordes of angry teenagers. And I think that it would not be too great to see the same happening with travel media, or “journalism”.

photo credit: Flickr/ e_monk

On my most recent travels, I have met more people looking at the world trough their cameras and HD camcorders’ lenses than their own eyes. Places and peoples are now transformed by the deforming quality of polarizers, microphones, quotes, and filtered through other people’s eyes and words. And I fear that by continuously trying to give travel a “journalistic” sense, we may as well lose the actual focus of our own travel experiences.  Why do we travel, after all? To make a movie, or enrich our lives?

During my last long vagabonding from Asia to Europe overland, I had to carry a laptop to be able to write – to me, a very important task – and follow up with my family, friends and “work” contacts, but I voluntarily decided to leave the camera at home.  I delegated my partner and travel companion to the visual part of the trip. I thought that, realistically, there would have been no way I could have written, taken pictures, made videos and recorded audio of my trip altogether. I decided that the one and only recorder I would have always let “turned on” had to be my mind, and my capacity of observation. And for the notes, I scribbled away the essential on some torn pieces of paper that I would have typed later on, in the same or the next evening.

I decided I did not want to be a machine, or become the employee of my own mental employer, for the sake of the “Go Forth and Journalize” God. I wanted to have fewer tasks to worry about, and concentrate on my most successful one only. I wanted to have FUN, and not just transform my trip into workaholic hedonism disguised for travelling.

And now that the trip is over and I am looking back at the while experience, I am glad I decided to disconnect a bit from the wires of electric technology, and connect more to the ones of my own judgment and will. I do not regret any single day, nor any lost picture opportunity: every moment is perfectly vivid in my mind as the most glorious experience I ever had. And at times, there is no real need to record or picture that feeling.  In case I wanted, I can always write… and maybe make it even more glorious.

Posted by | Comments (6) 
Category: Notes from the collective travel mind, Vagabonding Advice


6 Responses to “Travel is not just a multimedia project”

  1. Caroline @ Traveling 9 to 5 Says:

    I definitely struggle with leaving my camera behind! I have an awful memory and my photos usually serve as a digital journal in a sense! But, I realize how much it takes away from the moment when you are snapping away with your big DSLR!

  2. Roger Says:

    I have always enjoyed taking pictures, but I went through a phase where I wanted to take video, and make videos of trips and that was great fun, but it was something of a phase, and I have grown weary of it. I think it’s great if you want to go all-out and document everything for postarity, but if you grow tired of it, just scale back. But I will always want to take pictures. Another neat thing I have been doing now for several years, is make a Blub book about the annual family trip. That has been a fun travelogue-making project that I have not gotten tired of yet. And it makes a good Christmas gift for the family.

  3. john Says:

    what about the amount of time spent writing versus the time it takes to snap a few pics? surely the effort that goes into storytelling on paper allows you less time in the proverbial ‘travel moment’ than if you just took a quick shot and was done with it?

  4. jerry Says:

    thank you for helping me let go of the video camera, a few shots here and there but the really exciting movie is the one I create in my head and that one I can play anytime. thanks!

  5. emjay Says:

    I lived in Hawaii for 8 month 4 years ago. When I first arrived I was attached to my camera. I took countless pictures of palm trees and sunsets. I also wrote poems and journaled about all the mind altering beauty that surrounded me everyday. I wanted to capture every moment, to be able to share it with all the people I loved that were not there to take it in themselves. It almost felt like an obligation to me. As time went on I eventually started getting overwhelmed with all the photos and poems and even short videos that I was constantly collecting. I felt like a hoarder. A hoarder of memories. Soon enough I had decided that all this documenting had to stop, but I still felt the urge to share when the beauty surrounding me was so overwhelming. One day I had an epiphany of sorts. I realized that all those wonderful moments, the sunsets, the poetry, the sand and surf…all of it, was stored in who I am here and now. That the best way for me to share that with the ones I loved is to pay attention, to be fully focused on the moment and allow it to integrate itself into my very essence. I am every great and beautiful experience I have ever had and it is displayed as me better than any high-tech slide show or travel journey can ever attempt to conceive. I can be the walking talking demonstration of how the wonders of the world are ceaseless and infinite. By putting down my camera and pen I was able to focus more on the experience and that is priceless. That would be my advice to all travelers. Forget about what you are going to post on facebook, forget about getting that perfect shot, forget about finding the perfect words for your journal… forget it all and loose yourself in the experience. Even, no especially if it concerns a place you have been for a while. Forget everything else and remember yourself.

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