I scramble to find an electrical outlet in Chicago’s O’Hare airport, frantic after 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, I am instead panicking. 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 to 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 my site up to date.
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 of 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? 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. In this age of socially-saturated travel, we all must face being too focused on documenting where we are and what we are seeing.
In Prague, my hotel’s WiFi connection is the bane of my existence. I spend a few hours with the staff trying to get a signal. When I finally have full bars, I recognize I am trying to log on in order to upload where I have been, what I have seen and what I concluded.
Instead, I am 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 when I was studying in Italy, I rarely worried about booking accommodation online. 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 when 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.
There is nothing that fires me up more than bad hospitality. After a horrible encounter with an apartment owner in Croatia, (where I waited out in the cold for an hour to check-in) 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. 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 traveler’s tip about the buses in Bolivia can provide the next with valuable information.
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? 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 Goldilocks 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 my iPhone, at least until I hear those magic words, “The use of cellphones is now permitted.”
Suzy Guese began traveling 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. Suzy blogs about her travel experiences at SuzyGuese.com