Anyone can travel
Being a travel editor, I get all sorts of submissions from people claiming to be travel writers, from the very good to the absolutely scary. Different things go into making a great piece – good writing, an unusual experience, a certain perspective, etc, etc – but one of the absolute essential basics, according to me, is that a person have actually visited the place.
Now, now, don’t laugh. This has really happened. I once received a very well written piece from a lady about a place that she’d never visited. She read about it in various places, got a feel for it from seeing photographs and wrote a lovely piece describing it and the various things you can do while you’re there. It’s only when I was grilling her for more information to improve the piece – personal experiences, mode of travel, hardships, time taken, etc – that it emerged that she had in fact never been to the place at all.
I was very mad at her then, of course: she’d wasted my time; she’d been trying to fool us; who wrote a travel article without ever actually seeing the place; was she mocking all the serious travel writers, etc? Now, a long time after the incident took place, I still think the piece should never have been written or at least never sent to a travel publication. But a small little part of me lauds the imagination and gall of the woman who submitted for printing, a travel article about a place that she’d never visited.
After all, we don’t always find opportunities to visit the place we want to go to. My own list is endless: I want to drive in New Zealand, river raft in the Grand Canyon, take a boat down the Amazon, trek in the Himalayas, live in Istanbul, cruise the Antarctic Circle, stay in a junk on Halong Bay, spend the monsoon in Kerala and autumn in Kashmir; but I’m a long way from fulfilling it. And who knows if I ever will?
And while it’s always possible to save the money and find time off from work and take off, what if you’re limited by your physical capabilities?
Until the day you can make your dream come true and visit the place you’ve always wanted to, armchair travel makes perfect sense. You can read about it on the Net, check out photographs on Flickr from others who’ve been there, pick up published works by travellers who’ve been there and written about their experiences and watch travel shows on it. (Just don’t stitch it all together into an article and send it to another publication, okay? Okay.) In fact, with the Net, you can take armchair travel to a whole new level with virtual tours.
Visit http://www.armchair-travel.com/ which has 360 degree panoramas of a number of destinations. This is a company that provides virtual tours at on-spot kiosks in places that lack facilities for disabled people.
Visit http://www.virtualfreesites.com/tours.html for tours of over 300 museums and exhibits from around the world. There are also interactive links for about a 100 cities, including London, Amsterdam, Bali, Jerusalem, etc.
AND, in case you think these things don’t happen in India, check out the Discover Andhra website at http://www.aptourism.in/apvirtualtours.html