Making the best of Vicarious Travel in 2020
Travelling to new places mean different things to different people. Some do it for the thrill of discovery, some do it to tick off their heart’s desires from their bucket list and some do it in search of a place that feels like home. For me, travelling has been about discovering new lifestyles to inspire my own. I travel to gain inspiration for designing my own life, and in that pursuit, I spent most of 2019 galloping across the country and to some cities beyond. The new experiences inspired me to create better work professionally as well, and I hoped to continue this nomadic inspiration-hunt from thereon.
Enter 2020 and, with it, a world-wide takeover by the dreaded Covid-19 virus.
In quarantined times like these, travelling vicariously through the blogs (or vlogs!) of others can prove to be a very fulfilling experience.
Vicariously (adv.): experienced through the activities of other people, rather than by doing something yourself (Cambridge Dictionary)
In the past, vicarious journeys to places far away have saved me from feeling creatively drained during long periods of being desk-bound. And now, in March 2020, as I sit in self-imposed quarantine at home, and in a growing atmosphere of fear and negativity, I look forward to refuelling my creative energies with some help from the Ghosts of Journeys Past. These are not only my own past journeys that I will be turning to, but also journeys of others who have travelled to places other than me and with perspectives different from my own.
More eyes, more ears, more experiences
We’d all agree that there’s more to the world than any one person can realistically see on their own. Travelling vicariously opens up opportunities of experiencing places that we may not be planning to or be able to actually visit anytime soon.
I love Drew Binsky’s vlogs and Instagram stories for this very reason. With a strong passport and an even stronger determination, he is close to having visited all 197 countries of the world. He shares honest stories from every country that he visits, breaking stereotypes wherever he goes. Thanks to him, I believe I have a slight sense of what countries like Sudan, Iran, Lebanon and many others look and feel like. I feel closer and more empathetic to the people of the world, simply by virtue of having had a glimpse into their everyday lives because of Drew’s stories.
Because of Alex Reynolds (Lost with Purpose), I’ve discovered the thrill of knowing what it’s like to travel as a woman in the countries of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Again, like Drew, the key quality that keeps me hooked to her vlogging is the raw honesty. She doesn’t shy away in either her words or her actions… mysteriously leaving me feel more powerful and alive with possibilities.
Same, same but New
It’s not just new destinations that appear exciting through vicarious travelling. Even when we immerse ourselves in the travelogue of a familiar destination, we chance upon a new perspective because no two people see a place in the same way. The relationship between a traveller and a destination is always unique, and thus the stories that reach the world are unlike any other.
I have been based in the city of Delhi all my life, but the writings by Mayank Austen Soofi and books like The City of Djinns have made me fall deeper in love with the nuances of this city which I might have never discovered on my own.
Fuel the curiosity
The realities of our diverse world are often more exciting than fiction! Sometimes, it’s exciting to know more about certain cultures even if we are not planning an actual trip to the place in the near future. For me, it’s Japan! From reading about their ancient philosophies and watching the channel ‘Life Where I’m From’, to getting real-time stories from Japanese friends, I feel that Japan really calls out to me. I make mental notes about it all the time, and I hope that I get to make a significant trip to this amazing culture sometime in the future.
Conversations that connect
Some travelogues take a very personal approach to story-telling and make you feel like a part of the storyteller’s journey. Shivya is one such blogger whose words tend to go straight to my heart because of the many emotions that I can connect to. Her engagement with her online community is as meaningful as her writing. Anunay Sood takes a fun, light-hearted approach to showing the world to his online community through the most drool-worthy photographs and videos. His authentic personality shines through as he makes fun videos on his Insta-stories and replies to pretty much every comment (and message) on his account. Finding bloggers whose narratives you enjoy is quite amazing, because over time it’s not only the destinations that you get to know better, but the storytellers themselves. You are reminded of the fact that all full-time travellers are real people at the end of the day and face a whole range of circumstances and emotions as they go on with their lives.
It is not just with popular bloggers but with friends too that travelogues spark off interesting conversations. In listening to a friend’s experiences, I am very often reminded of my own and the thrill of a journey long-forgotten comes rushing back to me. This mindset is not just restricted to friends on vacation. In today’s globalised world, we often have friends living across different countries, and sneak peaks into their everyday life lets us broaden our awareness of the world.
Creatives across the world dabble in context-specific work and continue to share very contemporary narratives of their homeland through their work. Whether it is photography, music, product design or any other discipline, designers and artists continue to express the creative energies of different parts of the world. Instagram’s Design account curates the work of leading designers from all parts of the world and while none of them talk of “travelling” in the typical sense of the word, glimpses of their practice give us a good sense of the place and culture to which they belong.
At Desert Bloom, we are curating the journeys of Indian creatives throughout the coming month, so that we can all refuel our creative energies through some vicarious travelling. Stay tuned to “10-Tap Teleport” on our social media accounts Instagram & Facebook