I scramble to find an outlet in Chicago’s O’Hare airport, frantic over just learning some terrifying news. My travel blog has lost all of its content and I am set to leave on a 10-hour flight to Munich in just a few moments. At a time when I am normally excited to board a transcontinental flight, instead I am panicking for I have to get my site back up and running in order to document my upcoming travels throughout Eastern Europe. I travel a little bit differently from leisure travelers. Instead of just soaking up the sights and sounds of a place ever so casually, I must tweet, Instagram, blog, photograph, pin it, stumble or whatever other mediums I can find in order to keep up my site and job.
I’m sitting at a nice dinner in Prague, overlooking the city’s castle and my phone buzzes. I have to look. I wander through foreign thoroughfares in hopes for finding a WiFi connection. If I pass through a city without taking a single photograph, I start to feel guilty. I didn’t record that moment. If I forget to journal each travel day, writing down the names of every restaurant I visited and museum I toured, I feel even guiltier. I just took a picture of Budapest’s Parliament building. Surely everyone wants to see it. 10 likes later and I am convinced. I document my travels for all the right and wrong reasons sometimes. Without my articles and photographs, I wonder how my travel memories would carry on.
Stepping inside Prague’s St. Vitus Cathedral, a sea of tourists waits even in the dead of winter. It hardly feels like a house of worship. Many have their hats still on as they bump into each other for the perfect shot. Flashes go off and it doesn’t even seem holy in here. More like a Brad Pitt sighting, I wonder if anyone is looking at this space without the help of a camera lens. I am guilty of this too, immediately reaching for my camera when I see something new and spectacular, rather than just taking a moment to soak it all in with simple eyes. In this age of socially saturated travel, we all must face being too focused on documenting where we are and what we are seeing.
When To Travel and Not Blog
In Prague, my hotel’s WiFi connection was the bane of every travel bloggers’ existence. I spent a few hours with the staff trying to get a signal. When it was all said and done and I finally had full bars, I recognized I was trying to log on in order to upload where I had been, what I had seen and what I concluded. Instead, I was missing Prague just outside my window.
Those looking to start a travel blog to document their travels for friends, family and strangers should recognize their travel style will change. When I think back to studying abroad in Italy in college, I rarely worried about booking accommodations with Internet. I wouldn't travel with my computer as though it was my third arm. Documenting every moment wasn’t a necessity. Sometimes I miss the simple days of travel where recording my journey wasn’t my job. My travel memories start to lose their meaning when I am only looking for a way to write about them. Traveling shouldn’t just be for the story, but for the personal experience. Documenting travel should come second.
When To Blog and To Travel
There is nothing that fires me up more than bad hospitality. After a horrible encounter with an apartment owner in Croatia, one where I waited out in the cold for an hour to check in much to the owner’s lack of apology, I realized this is why I blog about my travels, this is why I document where I go and what I experience. There are so many things right and wrong in this world from one country to the next. Sharing experiences, mistakes, tips and moments of inspiration are what keep us all connected.
We shouldn’t travel just to blog or to take photographs. We should blog to only further the connections of travel. One person’s view of the world can lend a moment of calm while logging into Instagram. One traveler’s tip on the buses in Bolivia can provide the next with valuable information for a successful journey. A traveler’s representation of controversial places and people can reverse stereotypes and problematic and unfounded perceptions of the world. Publicly sharing our complaints about airport security, bad hospitality or other travel injustices can spur change.
At 35,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean, I worried about the state of my travel blog. Would the content show up magically when I landed? Did I lose all of my travel moments, all of my documentations? And way up in the air, I finally let it all go. Without an Internet connection, there were no tweets, emails or “likes” to distract me from where I was going and what I was doing there.
For me, documenting my travels requires a careful balance. Like a “Three Bears” complex, it can’t be too much or too little. It has to be just right. I was on my way to new countries, new experiences and new exchanges I wouldn’t have had if I just stayed home. I put down the computer and iPhone, if only just until I heard those magic words, “The use of cellphones is now permitted.” Surely someone wants to hear I just landed to join in on my travels as though they are experiencing the same, even if it’s just my Mom.
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About the Author
Suzy Guese began travelling at three months old with a flight to Orlando to experience the magical world of Disney from a newborn’s perspective. Don’t ask her if she remembers every family car trip across the United States or every French village she has visited. Ask her if she remembers the act of travel, the night before excitement, the wonder of seeing something she had only imagined. She remembers travel. Suzy blogs about her travel experiences at SuzyGuese.com
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