Everyone likes a challenge.
We're all suckers for a good old-fashioned dare, aren't we? Whether it's a general New Year's resolution, a booze-filled game of "never have I ever", strip poker, an ice bucket challenge, or an annual purge of our overgrown closets. Every now and then, we take pleasure in trying to push ourselves out of our cozy little comfort nooks, you know... just to see how free we can really be. And that got me thinking (well that and a thought-provoking post that came across my Instagram feed the other day). Seeing as how there is probably nothing I dream of doing more than being able to travel the globe, I paused upon an interesting question...
Living within today's uber socio-tekky climate, could I really travel to a foreign destination (let's say, for a one-week minimum stay), without so much as a post, tweet, snap, vine or Go-pro to commemorate the trip... and without taking/storing a single photo or video of my destination on any sort of digital device? And, if so... where would that secret destination be?
How's that for a challenge? How many of us would actually be up to the task of *drum roll please*: 'TRAVELLING... WITHOUT A TRACE'? And would we 'globe-trotters' (or wannabe globe-trotters) still be as eager to fill our ravenous craving of wanderlust if we knew that no one ... not even ourselves would ever be able to see any digital or print evidence of our adventure?
Please keep in mind that the question posed is coming from someone who quite literally takes photos of every occasion and non-occasion possible. In short - I'm known as the "family paparazzi" whenever I visit with my niece and nephews. The mere thought of them changing or growing up in any way without my documented photographic evidence of it makes me itch. Seriously. If there's a loose tooth, I want to know about it, and furthermore - I want to capture that cute little toothless grin! If those kiddies are just sitting on the couch, hugged up watching TV together, I'm going to snap that unassuming photo as a preemptive measure for the teenage years to come... to provide them with proof that there was a time when they were actually inseparable little humans. In that sense, photographic evidence kind of means everything to me.
Now in the context of travel, I'm pretty sure that I would feel somewhat the same. The thought of journeying to South Africa and not photographing the beautiful Mandela Capture Site... The thought of taking an elevator ride to the very tippy top deck of the Eiffel Tower and not snagging a 15 second video of the way up... The thought of wandering through a Costa Rican sloth sanctuary and not at least attempting a selfie with a smiling sloth... All a little devastating, if you ask me. And it's not even so much the fact that I wouldn't get to share these visual memories with others that gives me anxiety. It's the thought of never again being able to pseudo-tangibly revisit and reminisce on that experience for myself. I'm someone who on any given day, can easily lose an hour or two of my time thumbing through old photos and flipping through my albums (yes - actual printed and bound albums that exist in hard copy).
That being said - I don't think I'd fare very well on an 'un-captured trip'. Let's just say if this sort of challenge were to be done 'Survivor'-style, I'd be one of the first ones booted off the island for breaking the "no camera" rule. Sigh. BUT... as for the question of whether or not I'd still be as eager to travel and visit places I've always wanted to go knowing that I couldn't 'capture' any of it? FUCK. YES.
For me, travel isn't solely or mainly about the pretty pictures I get to come home with. There's literally something about stepping into and breathing a different air, being viewed and surrounded by different kinds of people, tasting a familiar meal in a completely different setting, trying your hand at a language you didn't think you knew, letting your most basic senses run free to soak up the world in front of you. These things transform you and grow you as a person. Once you've experienced something so different from your every day, you can't go back to being the self you were before you experienced that 'something'. You may look like the same person and go through a lot of the same motions when you get back, but you feel... I don't know... Richer? (Which is odd, because the credit card bill you're greeted with once back to reality, typically leaves you feeling quite the opposite!)
Basically- whenever you travel to a new destination or seek out any sort of new, positive experience for yourself, you're kind of leveling up as a 'citizen of the world'.
When I look at it in that sense, having visual evidence of that inner journey/growth is just not possible, nor is it necessary. Photos and videos of a trip are an awesome keepsake, but they are simply the sprinkles on an already filling sundae. It's really all about preserving the 'mental and emotional snapshots' we acquire through travel.
Do you think you have the discipline or desire to travel without a trace? Or if you've done it already, what was your experience like?