It’s tough to describe what makes a travelographer since I’m the first and perhaps only of my kind. We (I) don’t sit around long enough to interview ourselves (myself). And we definitely don’t have a dental, 401-K, or pension (not to mention anything resembling a paycheck). I finally tracked myself down at Manhattanville College during Summer Writer’s Week in Purchase NY and then Barcelona, Spain. I decided to aim for an exclusive and inclusive conversation on the subject of travelography. In tomorrow’s World Winder post, I’ll disclose what I told myself.
A travelographer is first and foremost an accomplished traveler. And a travelographer is never afraid to admit that they are a tourist. Travelographers can not fathom why the average tourist is ashamed to admit that they are a tourist. If you leave the place that you were born and raised to explore, work, study, reside, or breathe, chances are the locals consider you a tourist. It doesn’t mean that these locals don’t like, accept or even respect you. It doesn’t mean that you are a herb or a dweeb, or a poseur. It just means you ain’t from around here. Embrace your tourist/traveler spirit and go snap your pictures in front of famous monuments.
A travelographer changes the speed and complexity of his journey by the moment. Sometimes we travel hard and try to see it all. While other times we sit back and let daily life pass by us. We don’t see the sights that we “have to” see. A travelographer understands that all decisions on the road are her own. We can skip Machu Picchu and check out Kuelap Fortress instead. We don’t have to grab a flyer and check out a tango show when there are plenty of rock shows in Buenos Aires. If we wanted to see all the played out sights, we’d join a busload of packaged tourists and kiss our money and authentic experiences goodbye.
We travelographers don’t look down at other people based on the way that they travel. We realize that everyone wanders for their own wonderment and according to their own budget, preferences, and aspirations. Travelographers enjoy the journey in between sights and don’t complain about bumpy bus rides or stale peanuts. Unless you are a lord, a sultan, or modern day robber-baron, extensive travel will undoubtedly provide you with awkward moments and hiccups. Before you deliver a snide comment or complain to a local who is probably powerless to help you, take a deep breath, appreciate the ease of contemporary travel, and go fiddle with your smartphone. This isn’t the Trail of Tears, it’s just an overnight bus ride in Peru.
Travelographers capture the moment
Another key component of the travelographer way is our ability to record a sojourn in one manner or ten. Personally I am a blogger, phlogger, vlogger, free writer, photographer, videographer, biographer, autobiographer, and most importantly a dialoguer. Being a dialoguer is crucial for me because I have always been a teacher and I am a life-long learner. Ever since I was five I’ve been teaching people one thing or another. I’m not the kind of teacher you hated when you were in school. Not the kind you blame for making you hate math or Shakespeare “to this day”, but the supportive type. When a travelographer meets new people, whether they are locals or fellow tourists, we seek to open a dialogue for sharing and exchanging ideas and for overcoming stereotypes. In essence we are sociologists, cultural anthropologists, occasional psychologists, and ambassadors (not apologists) for our home nation.
It amazes me, how many people from my own country just don’t get that aspect of travelography. “Love it or leave it”, you say. I tell them- you don’t love it if you never leave it. So go get a passport and over any ignorance. Insead of stuffing your face at Chili’s, Friday’s, and to play on current events—Chic fil-A, eat dinner in and save money for extensive travel. Instead of buying a new television for thousands of dollars to watch travel programs on international destinations, keep your old tv and buy a flight to Brussels, La Paz, or Nagoya.
Travelographers UnTie and Unite
I’m calling on all potential travelographers to get out there, see something in this giant world, and don’t talk until you’ve studied a subject. Travel at your own pace and on your platform. Record your travels and share your experiences with other prospective tourists. Travel independently as much as possible because there is more to see than the back of other travelers’ heads. Open up a dialogue with people from a foreign land, state, or principality. And really listen, don’t just compare their words to your own values, so you can pat yourself on the back. Travelographers are the explorers of our age. And it’s getting pretty lonely exploring on my own.
Neil Friedman is a travelographer and writes for the Encyclozine World Winder. To read more of his work, click around on this very website. He would like to thank all of the friends, family, former coaches, former English teachers, ex-friends and their compatriots, and his original thesis advisor for doubting his abilities and trying to thwart his dreams. He uses doubt and derision as fuel for his quests and writings. He would like to thank the following artists for their inspiration in the art of defiance.
Dead Superstar- “My Turn”-all metal heads should buy the album Tribulations.
Jimi Hendrix “Stone Free”
Suicidal Tendencies “You Can’t Bring Me Down”Eminem- “Lose Yourself”
Linkin Park “Hands Held High”