Once upon a time, just traveling cross-country was a labor-intensive task and a logistical challenge, to say the least. It required months of planning, tons of equipment, and several strong horses, mules, oxen, or camels. The traveler him/herself needed to be in excellent physical condition, and arriving alive at the destination was not a foregone conclusion. One could expect to encounter illnesses, violent weather, and hostile natives on any given journey.
Then about a half-century ago, commercial aviation ushered in the Golden Age of Travel, where folks “dressed to the nines” and sipped champagne at 35,000 feet on their way from New York to Buenos Aires. Travel itself was exciting and glamorous, and the destination was almost unimportant, as long as it was far, far away.
Travel agents were like magicians, conjuring up epic voyages from a cozy office space lined with posters from exotic locations. Tell them your dreams and they could make them come true. Luxury travel was the new “it” item of conspicuous consumption in the 50s and 60s. A passport stamp from Milan was more prestigious than the designer handbag brought back from the “quadrilatero della moda.”
Traveling in the Information Age
Well, that’s all over now. What we’ve gained in affordability and access we’ve certainly lost in comfort…and dignity. TSA lines are the height of incivility, herding us barefoot like cattle through the mazes of x-ray scans and metal detectors, often resulting in public humiliation as a complete stranger feels us up from head to toe in front of an audience.
The information glut on such sites as TripAdvisor overloads us with choices, causing temporary moments of paralysis when we fret over every minor decision right down to “Where will I eat breakfast in Florence on day three of my trip? Help! I can’t decide!” (I know this to be true, because I get emails all the time from travelers who are distraught over where they can find “authentic” gelato in the center of Rome, as if their very happiness depends upon it.)
“It is fatal to know too much at the outset: boredom comes quickly to the traveler who knows his route as to the novelist who is over-certain of his plot.” –Paul Theroux
Furthermore, our addiction to information threatens to extract all the joy and surprise out of every trip, no matter how remote or “off the beaten path” we wander these days. Spontaneity in travel has been dead for quite some time, and yet nobody seems to be mourning the loss.
We all hunger to be someplace other than where we are at the moment. I am certainly no exception to this cliché. But it still pains me to see four people sitting a picture perfect lunch table overlooking the Amalfi Coast, each with their head down pecking away at their Smart Phone, either updating their Facebook status or chatting with friends back in Cleveland. What’s the sense in traveling if your thoughts never leave home?
Technologically Enhanced Italy Blog Tour
This year’s version of my Italy blog tour is an abbreviated itinerary compared to last year’s tour de force, but I’ll still be covering nearly the entire length of the Italian peninsula, from north (Milan) to south (Aeolian Islands, Sicily); and the width, from east (Rimini) to west (Levanto).
Despite every lamentation about technology at the beginning of this post, I’ll be trying out some new equipment on this trip. My excuse is that since I’m a travel blogger/podcaster, it’s my duty to stay up to date with current trends in digital media. (Or else I’m just a hypocrite, which might also be true.)
Here are two new technologies that I’ll be trying out during this year’s Italy blog tour for your voyeuristic pleasure.
This is the latest “next” thing is social media by the folks who brought you Twitter. In an effort to make the world smaller still, Periscope is a streaming video app that allows you to broadcast live to the entire globe from wherever you are. Going live will instantly notify your followers who can join, comment, and send you “hearts” in real time. The more hearts you get, the higher they flutter on the screen. But while your followers can see you and comment, you cannot see them…only their “hearts” and comments. Hence the exquisite voyeuristic nature of this new platform.
Oh, and broadcasts are available for replay for up to 24 hours. After that, they’re in the wind!
This is totally new for me, but it might be fun. There’s no editing or dubbing, so what you see is what you get! Check it out by downloading the app for iTunes or Android, and then follow me: @RickZullo
Portable Microphone with integrated iPhone app
So yes, it’s all about being mobile and spontaneous. This is an uncomfortable departure for me, as I’m used to taking my time writing blog articles and podcast questions, and then editing them until I’m happy. Not so with these new technologies, which promise for more “authentic” content. Whatever that means.
Towards this end, I’ve purchased a portable microphone that records on my iPhone via an integrated app. My goal with this device is to capture interviews in situ rather than from the quiet comfort of my home. My hope is that these on-location interviews will become future podcast episodes.
For anybody in Rome that wants to participate, I’ll be doing a few impromptu interviews at the weekly Tuesday event with the Expats Living in Rome group on 6 October. Details to follow on Facebook soon.
Travel Blogger Destination Italy
Finally, the highlight of this tour (for me) is my second appearance at TBDI in Rimini. This is actually the third year of the event, which strives to introduce travel bloggers to global travel brands for the purposes of collaboration.
This year I’m honored to be one of the speakers, and I’ll be presenting on the topic of “Podcasting to revitalize your blog, grow your audience, and add authority to your brand.”
If you have a moment, I would really appreciate your support by subscribing to my podcast on iTunes, and downloading a few of the episodes. Here:
This will help my show gain more attention within the Apple search engine, and expose my podcast to a larger audience.
Grazie, and stay tuned for “LIVE” updates from the travel road in Italy!! Ciao!