The usual trips consist of travelling from A to B to C, seeing things and/or meeting people and resting in nice accommodation in between. That’s exactly what we offer and that’s enough for most people. Usually visual impressions are immortalised with photos and sometimes travellers also write something down in their diaries.
But you could also enrich a trip with other ideas and creative processing. I tend to do that myself. Here I present what some others and I also do. Perhaps it will serve as inspiration for you? Perhaps also for other trips or weekend getaways without us. To make (travel) life a little more colourful.
It’s common to capture everything that catches your eye while travelling on your mobile phone or camera. Some people then create a picture show or make a photo book (or are there still old school people who stick pictures into photo albums?). These are nice memories that are shown to others and that you pull out again from time to time. Sometimes you are satisfied, sometimes not so much. Some people are also interested in taking particularly great pictures, especially if they call photography their hobby. Sometimes they spend extra time trying to get a particularly appealing subject in the right light. That’s all very well. But you could also go beyond that and/or take a different approach, which I would like to briefly introduce here.
Photography played a huge role in my life for almost 20 years. I endeavoured to take series of pictures, especially when travelling, with the aim of capturing the essence of a place (whether country, city or village) as I subjectively perceived it at that moment. This always worked for me in series of pictures – and very rarely everything was summarised in one photo.
One example can be found in a long-term project on my photo website about Dwarka, a subcity on the outskirts of Delhi.
It is also interesting to return to analogue “toy photography” – or to try it out. Toy cameras or other analogue cameras are used here, as well as expired films, special photography techniques (double exposures, incorrect exposures), special development techniques (cross) and/or printing techniques (cyanotype, etc.). Here, too, I have my own series as an example:
Another idea is to set yourself a theme in advance, perhaps completely contrary to what is visually fixed in your mind before travelling. India is often associated with noise, colourful, full. My theme was therefore “Empty India” – here is a small photo series on the subject:
You can put together a to-do list or have one put together with things you would like to experience on your trip, such as buying fruit at the market, travelling on a local bus, having clothes tailored,.. We have a suggestion or idea for your own to-do list here: PDF.
My first travel group in Ladakh had a great time going to the Germany Bakery in the afternoon and eating their way through the cakes. They then ranked them according to which was the tastiest. Later, I met people who made a top ten list of Ladakh’s monasteries. On a Rajasthan group trip, we had gulab jamuns for dessert so often that we also thought of making a top ten list of them. What do you make top ten lists of?
On a trip to Georgia, where I was travelling alone, I wasn’t feeling so good. But people were kind to me, unforeseen nice coincidences happened that made me feel good – and then I thought it best to make a note of what I was given. And when I felt a bit lonely and stupid again, I would look at the list and feel a little warmer around the heart. And then I thought that it’s generally not a bad method to make a note of such things. Because it’s sometimes too easy to forget what you’ve been given in everyday life. A few examples:
You can collect scraps of fabric from tailors and then sew them together to make a collage – either as a project to be continued while travelling (don’t forget needle and thread!) or afterwards at home. Typical animals, plants and landscapes are very suitable motifs.
You can record sounds and conversations while travelling and mix them into new sound collages at home. I have to admit: it was an idea of mine, but I didn’t really pursue it. But I had recorded some sounds in Zanskar and Rajasthan and now amateurishly put them together here. I suppose it could be much better, but it might be enough to give me an idea.
Anyone travelling with a sketchpad usually experiences two things: a) intense engagement with a motif and b) interested onlookers. At least if you draw in busier places – only in the solitude of the mountains or the desert you are alone. There are now many people who prefer the pencil to the camera (or do both – depending on the circumstances). Here are two examples from India with quite different drawing styles:
Priya Krishnan Das
Afterwards, you either have a great sketchbook or good templates for further artwork.
Here is a gentleman drawing in Leh/Ladakh:
There are people who simply collect the number of countries they have travelled to. Once you have collected 100 (according to certain criteria), you can become a member of the Travellers Century Club. But are such country collections really useful for getting to know “the world”? We have some ideas on how to collect more fun stuff! Here are some of the things people do:
My cousin goes to the hairdresser in every country he travels to. As of December 2023, he has made 45 visits to the hairdresser in 45 countries.
It was an internet phenomenon that enjoyed great popularity until at least 2011. You can read about it in Wikipedia. The idea is to lie down in a prone position in busy public places or in interesting landscapes and have this photographed. It sounds unspectacular, but it can produce interesting images and experiences. However, there are people who still enjoy it today – I met a Japanese man in Nepal in 2023 who continued doing it with enthusiasm. It definitely encourages you to look for a touristic alternative if you are on the lookout for a suitable location and shooting angle.
We don’t really recommend extreme ironing, but we think it’s a great inspiration for your own ideas. It’s a mixture of internet phenomenon and self-organised sport – read about it at Wikipedia. In any case, it usually involves going to a foreignplace. For the destination there it is a rather unsuitable activity. If you do something like this, you get to see an area in a different way – and who knows what you might experience (including conversations with confused onlookers).
Someone who collects smiles – doesn’t that sound charming? I found Robi on Instagram, who uses a doll to make people smile in front of the camera. Here is the link to his Instagram-Profile.
Perhaps the forefather whose dances went viral in different places around the world with different people on the internet is Matt Harding from the USA. His YouTube videos “Where the hell is Matt?” have many millions of views, are charming and have become increasingly professional over the years. Starting in 2005 dancing alone in poor picture quality, in 2012 large crowds move with him in very good picture quality. Here is the link to his Youtube-channel.
Another example is Ed People from Belgium, who approaches people from a wide range of backgrounds with “Can you teach me your favourite dance moves?” and dances together with them in short sequences and compiles them into videos. He uploads his videos to Tiktok, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, X and Youtube.
And I myself also have a dance project: I collect 1. fellow dancers of different origins, 2. highest/lowest dance location, 3. fellow dancers from all states of India and 4. maximum number of people dancing with me at the same time. I started the project “Dancing with others” alone by dancing from left to right or the other way round in different dance steps for short dance clips. In September 2022, someone asked me if he could dance along with me. I’ve been starting these lists ever since. It’s always an effort to ask someone (yes, I get rejections too), but many people like it and so we have a nice, slightly different memory of our encounter. The dance clips don’t have their own channel and you can’t upload longer videos here on this website. So here is just one example from Kyrgyzstan, where I dance with an Australian and an Ecuadorian as well as a father and daughter from Kyrgyzstan:
I’m always happy to be inspired (and if you like, we can publish it too)!