Active Sightseeing: A guide on how to do it
>> Active sightseeing energizes travel and introduces excitement into staycations, day trips, week-long getaways, and lavish multi-week tours. The "active" aspect of this type of sightseeing suggests a do-it-yourself, "no one has ever done this before" explorer's approach, rather than dependence on pre-arranged tours and guide led experiences.
Active sightseeing differs from active tourism in that the first relies upon self-discovery, and the second, upon educational objectives developed by qualified guides. Active sightseeing, however, can be practiced at any time and may not cost a dime, while an active tour is normally purchased. (See the end of this article for more information.)
How to Actively Sightsee
The quest of an active sightseer is to discover things that are personally rewarding, whether these things are found locally or in a distant city.
Today's active sightseers, like Lewis and Clark, the famous explorers who charted the western regions of the American continent over 200 hundred years ago, achieve their objectives by exploring areas on foot, recording images (by sketching or photography), keeping diaries (or blogs), and sharing their findings with appropriate people (people who are interested in the subject).
Here are the key features of active sightseeing:
- Walk and Use a Kick Scooter as a Booster: Walking stimulates the body, mind, and your senses. Unfortunately, unless the purpose of walking is for endurance, it gets tiring after an hour or so. Even standing for long periods, as is common when sightseeing, causes back pressure. And possibly worse, sitting after long periods of walking or standing often causes feet to swell, making the remaining exploration unpleasant.
But being physically mobile is key to active sightseeing and the more sights you see, the better. I recommend that people of all ages boost the area they cover by reinforcing walking with kick scooting. Hey, let's remember that even Lewis and Clark reinforced their walking with horses and canoes. Had their path been paved, I'm sure they would have used foldable bikes and kick scooters, too.
- Take lots of pictures (and maybe sketch, too): Taking unlimited digital pictures (or videos) is easily done with today's equipment. For your own benefit, however, learn how to frame (pose) a picture. Start by taking a sweep of the greater scene, then drill down to its details. Also take pictures to illustrate a story you want to tell. When it comes to capturing peoples' interest (yours included), the "why" behind the photos is often more important than the "what they are."
If at all possible, sketch what you see and don't worry about the artistic merit of your drawings. Make notes on your sketches, too. Often, a few lines on paper accompanied by your random thoughts will provide more meaning than a suitcase load of tourist brochures and web page printouts.
Need to remember where you were during your marathon photo taking adventure? Photographically bookmark areas by taking photos of street corner signs, building names, and possibly tourist brochures in between scenery shots. For more detail, write location details on a note card, then take a photo of the card (toss the card when done). Last, if location notes are really important, purchase a camera with GPS identification capabilities.
- Write and Edit: Create a daily diary or blog, but don't be a slave to every last detail. Write to quiz your memory and solidify your thoughts, making sure you integrate photos into your material.
After you've made your notes, select a few key adventures to re-write and sharpen for sharing with friends. Under all conditions, it is through editing (narrowing and refining) that discovery crystallizes.
Recommendation: Keep your travel diary or blog notes private and "for your eyes only." Remember that media specialists (including professional bloggers) show only their edited (refined) work to the public. Even Lewis and Clark prepared their official report based on diaries they both kept during their explorations.
- Identify and Discuss Your Discoveries With People Who Share Your Interests: Experiences become more meaningful when you have the opportunity to discuss them with others. Unfortunately, not everyone in your family or circle of friends has the time to hear, see, or read details about your discoveries, outside of polite interest.
It's up to you to showcase your experiences in ways that are meaningful to others (rather than just dumping all your pictures into an online album). Possibly more important, be selective about who you share your information with. Like publishing anywhere, to be successful, you need to identify your niche (people who share interests). Need to expand your acquaintances? Try the following:
+ Google or use social media to find special interest forums and/or discussion boards, then take part in what you find. + Ask travelers about their experiences, then sit back and listen before saying anything! Create a bond based on mutual interests. + Read! Go to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, local bookshops, and/or your library and look up the subject. This might lead you to others via review links, online forums, and community reading groups.
For more information on active tourism (also called discovery tourism), check out the highly regarded www.RoadScholar.org, which goes by the phrase "adventures in lifelong learning," or Google the subject to find numerous offerings.
If you're interested in active sightseeing and adventure, you'll find information about Lewis and Clark's travels and journals inspiring. Check the following: The National Geographic - Lewis & Clark + The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition + Discovering Lewis & Clark + PBS - Ken Burns on Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery + Lewis & Clark's Historic Trail.
Questions? Just ask!
Article and photos by Karen Little for www.Littleviews.com. First published on 1/28/2011. All rights reserved by Littleviews.