What? You might be thinking. Don’t take a camera on the dream trip you’ve been planning for years? But that’s like playing soccer with a stick instead of a ball, a Cuba Libre without the rum, birding without binoculars. Well, no, it’s not. Despite the trend, a camera may not be as crucial as you think, and below are a few reasons why.
You miss the moment
Staring at the world through a lens is a manner of detachment. Instead of really seeing and contemplating your surroundings, your focus turns to “getting the shot.” I was recently speaking to a friend who had an incredible experience. He was photographing a hawk soaring above a lake when, just at the right moment, he snapped a picture as the hawk pulled a fish from the water. “It’s a great photo,” he said. “But I missed the moment. I didn’t really see it happen.”
Your pictures might be awful
This isn’t a blanket statement, your pictures might be fantastic, but for most of us, our pictures are terrible: a washed out sunset, a blurry motorbike on the streets of Phuket, a colonial palace that looks like a million others. Unless you’re a professional photographer, the pictures won’t do the memories justice. You may as well have the experience and then order prints from someone who really knows what they’re doing.
Does anyone really want to see them?
Have you ever looked through somebody else’s travel snaps only to have your eyes glaze over? That’s how everyone feels. When people nod and appear enthusiastic, they’re usually just being nice. And can we blame them? The photos don’t show their experiences, so how can they relate? Better to grab a drink with your pals then force them to sit through a 30-minute slideshow.
It won’t get stolen
Cameras are constantly being stolen. They’re right up there with wallets and passports, iPods and cash. Not bringing a camera is one less thing you’ll have to worry about, especially if you’re heading to a particularly enjoyable, crime-infested, seedy part of the world.
One of the joys of travel is living simply. The more unnecessary items we carry, the more baggage from our everyday lives we bring along. Next time you’re packing your bag really think about whether dragging along a camera is worth the trouble. You might enjoy the experience more without it.
By Bryan Schatz