Travelling the world today is a totally different experience to how it must have been in previous decades. The idea of getting away from it all to an isolated corner of the globe is now becoming a memory for most travellers, many of whom would definitely remember to pack their smartphones, but might find themselves forgetting their toothbrushes.
Social networks have enhanced the ‘connectivity’ inherent in modern travel, especially for those who now make a living simply from touring the world and blogging about it. Writers are far less likely to be sent away to write a book about a destination than they are to record their adventures and post them online in real time for legions of adventure travel enthusiasts that follow their travels. Book sales are on the decline – the number of blogs out there is growing with alacrity every day.
Does this alter our ability to appreciate the great places of the world, and if so, how? Do we find ourselves looking at the world through a view-finder more often than not? Are we sacrificing our real-world experiences for the sake of our Facebook friends? Or are we bringing these places nearer to those who are interested in travel, sharing the experience of travelling to foreign lands and promoting something worthwhile? Sometimes I think I’d rather read about a fascinating recent trip to Syria and enjoy a few pictures of the journey than read about the misery served up in our daily news broadcasts.
Sometimes one is forced to put the camera away and just live the experience as it happens. The pictures in this post were taken during a sandstorm at Giza, the very first time that I’d had the privilege of seeing these famous landmarks up close. Clearly it wasn’t the greatest day for sightseeing! The photos I got will never express this, but the sandstorm enhanced the sense of mystery surrounding these monuments, and made their otherworldly shapes and immense size even more impressive.
Faraway destinations are now closer than ever thanks to the technology that our gadgets are endowed with, and we think that’s a great thing. It means that we’re more in touch and that the places we aspire to travel to are more accessible. But it’s also about a balance between connecting the wider world around you through the tools at your disposal, and remembering to appreciate what’s right in front of you. Every now and then, don’t forget to take a deep breath, turn off your camera, your smartphone, your laptop and your electric toothbrush, and just enjoy the view.