If you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen that I’ve been sharing photos from a trip I went on several years ago to Sri Lanka. I confess there was an ulterior motive to this: the plan was to use these photos to build up some followers, encourage them to visit the blog and then perhaps head over to my writing and design pages. As far as a social media strategy is concerned, I admit it is probably a little on the weak side. However, the outcome has been far different—and far more thought-provoking—than I initially intended.
The very act of going through the photos and choosing which to present brought back some great memories. It encouraged me to think of how to tell my story in bite-size pieces, and provide information that would be of interest to complete strangers. With the closing of Indian River by Air last year, I had fallen out of practice at keeping up with the rapid social media treadmill. This experience is helping me get back in shape.
Beyond these benefits, I started sharing my selections for the day with MrElaineous and we had fun each morning making predictions about which ones might be popular. This grew to daily reminisces about the incredible sights, the lovely people, and the delicious food we encountered during our stay in Sri Lanka. I have my souvenirs—a wooden carving from Anuradhapura, a batik wall hanging from Kandy, a few seashells from a beach in Galle—but revisiting the photographs has helped remind me of the things that caught my attention at the time, those moments that would otherwise have disappeared as the months and years have gone by. And isn’t this what travel is ultimately about—experiencing a place and carrying it with you?
Yet so much has become about the right here, right now insta-lifestyle that I wonder if that time for reflection is being lost. The mantra of “Experiences not things” is one I believe in, but are we potentially in danger of collecting vacations like Beanie Babies, without enjoying the ones we have already taken? Are we taking the time to see where we’ve been and what we’ve learned … as well as planning where we’re going next?
This simple exercise has encouraged me to re-think my own attitude to travel. Besides enjoying the anticipation of a trip to come and the actual experience of being in a new location, I will be making sure I build in time to reflect, remember, and appreciate what came before.