Search Results for: travel

How Travel Writing May Look After the Pandemic

AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner

Speaking on a podcast about Coronavirus, Best American Travel Writing series editor Jason Wilson “declared that this was ’the extinction event’ for a certain type of travel publishing.“ In an essay for Guernica, Wilson expounds further, considering the ways travel restrictions and fears about infection will shape the way people write about travel, while acknowledging that all we can do is speculate and wait. And until then, we can read travel books like Robert Byron’s The Road to Oxiana as Wilson did. We can reminisce about past journeys, and we can see how the stories in future editions of Best American Travel Writing look compared to ones before COVID-19.

In the months that have passed since my pessimistic podcast appearance, I’ve had a change of heart about the future of travel writing. Of course it will survive, as it has before, even if the publishing models radically change. Travel writers, once again, will embrace new forms, experiment, borrow from other genres and find novel approaches. Many people have suggested that, once we’re free from lockdown, more modest domestic or local travel, rather than exotic foreign adventures, will take center stage. They say narratives about home might become significant and popular.

When I think of local travel, I think of Hopkins Pond, a small body of water in the wooded park near my home in Haddonfield, New Jersey. The park is not very well maintained by the county, but on sunny days it’s still beautiful. I often take long walks there around the edge of pond, where I’ll encounter a handful of people fishing, joggers, or families riding bikes. In most ways it’s a completely typical suburban recreational area.

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On Travel Writing

Longreads Pick

Shelter in place has given The Best American Travel Writing series editor a lot of time to think about travel writing’s future, and whether pandemic will move travel writers’ focus closer to home.

Published: May 26, 2020
Length: 8 minutes (2,017 words)

The Traveling Salesman Bringing Abortion Bans to a Texas Town Near You

Longreads Pick
Source: HuffPost
Published: Mar 2, 2020
Length: 12 minutes (3,228 words)

In Search of the ‘White Jaguar’: Archaeologists Travel Deep into the Jungle to Find a Lost Maya City

Longreads Pick

In the ancient Mayan city named Sac Balam, Indigenous people resisted Spanish incursions for a century longer than their conquered neighbors. Now the very location that protected residents keeps the ruins hidden from archaeologists.

Source: Science
Published: Sep 5, 2019
Length: 14 minutes (3,587 words)

Have Hen Will Travel: The Man Who Sailed Round the World With a Chicken

Longreads Pick

You could be sad that this chicken is far more well-traveled than you are, or you could be delighted at the bond between a man and his hen. After skimming the day’s other headlines (and seeing Monique the hen in her sweater) I choose the latter.

Source: The Guardian
Published: Apr 21, 2019
Length: 10 minutes (2,615 words)

Where Not to Travel in 2019, or Ever

Longreads Pick

Who’s really footing the bill for your amazing vacation to an untouched destination? You’re buying the plane tickets, but locals are paying the price.

Source: The Walrus
Published: Feb 12, 2019
Length: 7 minutes (1,755 words)

In the Age of Instagram’s Travel Influencer, Your Pretty Home Is the Backdrop for Their Photoshoot

These days, whether you like it or not, your photogenic house may be a prime location for tourists’ photoshoots. Take “T,” for instance, who lived in one of the three picture-perfect houses with pastel trim on Rainbow Row in Savannah, Georgia. In May 2017, her home’s very Instagrammable exterior was the backdrop for a travel blogger’s carefree action shot, which included this bit in the caption:

This was about 3 seconds before the little old lady living in the green house came out and scowled at me for taking pictures in front of her home (which mind you is famous in Savannah and mentioned on all of the trolley tours). If it were me, I would have taken advantage of the tourist attention and started a mimosa stand or something!

Posing in front of photo-worthy facades, from famous landmarks to street murals, is nothing new. But with the rise of influencers on the world’s most popular photo app, snapping photos in front of or on someone’s property — when adorable porches and picturesque stoops are involved — brings up issues of privacy and etiquette. At Curbed, Alexandra Marvar explores homeownership in the age of the Instagram travel influencer.

Halpern’s brand, Live Like It’s the Weekend, asks the question: “Wouldn’t it be freaking awesome if people […] felt free to follow their passions every day, not just on the weekends?” Her curated target audience is the “creative female traveler,” her feed a litany of styled jet-setting and starry-eyed wonder. Sometimes she breaks to reflect on the personal, disclosing a struggle in a caption, reminding us that we shouldn’t assume a person is as they appear—that they may not be the look they’re giving you. For Halpern, discussing the personal details of her life—including the difficult ones—is right on brand. She shares her thoughts openly with her followers, right alongside a post plugging a jumpsuit she loves or a spa she just visited. And her followers seem to love it.

They liked the post of T’s house too (1,581 times, last I checked), but to identify a private home and evaluate the behavior of its owner to an audience of 60,000 isn’t the same as evaluating a resort stay or an outfit, things given to her or that she paid for. The act ate at me, and at T’s family. What right did she have?

Halpern has every right to snap such a picture from public property. We all do. She has every right, as the copyright owner of her photographs, to use them for commercial gain. She is perfectly welcome to use a social media caption as a platform to rally moral support from digital disciples, a feature of social media we all love. Save for some forms of name-calling, and any certain nuisance (excessive noise, blocking the sidewalk, and so on), the law allows for all of this.

But since Instagram exploded into the world in 2010, photography—travel photography in particular—has evolved faster than the law can accommodate. Where the law falls short, we have ethics—moral principles that guide our conduct in business and life. And in the application of our ethics, we have etiquette—a societal code that shows us how to be polite.

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Traveling While Black Across the Atlantic Ocean

Longreads Pick

In this personal essay, following in the footsteps of African Americans traveling to Denmark in the early 20th century, Ethelene Whitmire experiences a 21st century transatlantic crossing.

Source: Longreads
Published: Jan 22, 2019
Length: 18 minutes (4,642 words)

Traveling While Black Across the Atlantic Ocean

Illustration by Xenia Latii

Ethelene Whitmire | Longreads | January 2019 | 19 minutes (4,642 words)

“Welcome aboard!” the Cunard agent exclaimed, and I suddenly felt a clichéd warm tingling sensation. After hesitating for several weeks, I finally…booked a passage? I got a berth? I do not know the lingo. So let us say I got a ticket for a seven-day, eastbound, transatlantic crossing on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 from New York City (technically the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal) to Southampton, England for June, 2018, the first leg of a trip to Denmark. I was committed — or semi-committed. I placed a 10% deposit (fully refundable for a few weeks) to hold my space, and immediately made a note in my electronic calendar for two days before the deadline to remind myself to cancel if I changed my mind. I’d visited Denmark 12 times since my initial trip in May and June, 2010, including a year as a Fulbright scholar, but I’d always flown there.

I am writing a book about African Americans in 20th century Denmark. During the past few years I followed in their footsteps by visiting Danish cities, towns, villages, islands, a prison, numerous castles, jazz clubs, an educational institution, and the homes and studios where they lived, visited, performed, toured, and studied. A friend suggested I more accurately recreate the experience of the people in my book who lived in the first half of the 20th century, when the only way to get to Denmark from the United States was to cross the Atlantic Ocean by ship. I’d read much of what they’d written about their experiences in letters home, in memoirs, and in one case, in a newspaper column.

They traveled abroad during the Jim Crow era in the United States, and many feared they would face racism and even possible segregation on the ships. Perhaps they were familiar with the oft-told tale of former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass’ 1845 crossing. He was almost thrown overboard by some Americans after the captain invited him to make an anti-slavery speech. Elizabeth Stordeur Pryor called Douglass’ voyage “harrowing” in Colored Travelers: Mobility and the Fight for Citizenship before the Civil War. William M. Fowler, Jr. wrote in Steam Titans: Cunard, Collins, and the Epic Battle for Commerce on the North Atlantic that although Douglass booked a first-class cabin, once he was on the Cambria he “discovered that he had been reassigned to quarters in the forecastle, separate from the other passengers, and he was advised to remain secluded there during the crossing.”

I did not worry about segregation during my 21st century transatlantic crossing, but wondered about and anticipated possible microaggressions — slights and condescending comments often based on racial stereotypes. I did not see many images in Cunard’s brochures and website featuring Black people among the passengers. I was educated in predominantly white institutions and worked at similar institutions as an administrator and as a professor, so I was used to being in white spaces. And I live in Wisconsin — one of the whitest states in the nation. I wondered what would my journey be like on the Atlantic Ocean?
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To Heil, or Not To Heil, When Traveling in the Third Reich

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Julia Boyd | Travelers in the Third Reich | Pegasus Books | 16 minutes (4,230 words)


There can have been few foreigners who “Heiled Hitler” with more enthusiasm than Unity Valkyrie Mitford. Ever since she first became infatuated with the Führer at the 1933 Nuremberg Rally, her arm would shoot out on every possible occasion. Even Sir Eric and Lady Phipps, all too familiar with distressed upper-class parents whose daughters had fallen in love with “dreadful SS types,” were taken aback by Unity’s brisk “Heil Hitler” as she entered their Berlin drawing room. Sir Eric, who was a good head shorter than the strikingly built Unity, responded by standing on tiptoe and shaking her outstretched hand. Some months later, Jessica Mitford shared a cabin with her sister on a Mediterranean cruise. She described how Unity would lie on her bunk at night and after saying her prayers to Hitler would solemnly raise her arm in the Nazi salute before falling asleep. The story of Unity — the fifth of Lord and Lady Redesdale’s famous brood of seven — is that of an unhappy, not particularly bright young woman finding glamour and purpose in a cult religion. She might have become prey to any number of eccentric beliefs or deities but unfortunately for her, and those around her, she fell for the Führer.

An unsophisticated groupie, Unity was a famous special case but countless other young people of similar background traveled and studied in Germany between the wars, giving rise to the question — why were they there? That the British establishment should have seen fit to prepare its offspring for adult life by sending them to such a vile totalitarian regime is puzzling, to say the least. Even those in sympathy with Hitler’s aims of defeating communism and restoring his country to greatness would hardly have welcomed a Brown Shirt as a son-in-law. Yet, despite the Great War and growing awareness of Nazi iconoclasm, Germany’s traditional grip on British intellectual imagination remained as strong as ever. Here, in the midst of Nazi barbarity and boorishness, these gilded youths were expected to deepen their education and broaden their outlook. What better way for a young man to prepare for Oxford or the Foreign Office than to immerse himself in Goethe, Kant, Beethoven and German irregular verbs? Moreover he could do so very cheaply by lodging with one of the many impoverished Baroninnen [Baronesses] offering rooms in university towns such as Munich, Freiburg or Heidelberg. Read more…