I’ve always loved to travel, which is part of the reason I chose a high mobility career in international humanitarian work. But ironically, as my travel for work has increased over the past few years, I stopped making time to explore the places to which I traveled – both new and familiar. Part of this can be chalked up to workloads and jetlag, but laziness was definitely a factor. In an effort to re-engage with my sense of place while traveling, I set myself the goal of posting at least one photo to Instagram from every location I visited in 2017.
As someone who suffers from social media illiteracy, this was a bit of an odd choice. It wasn’t always easy to make time (full disclosure, there are a few missing) but my resolution did help me to rediscover the fun of being a “dame traveler”. Instead of settling into my computer screen during my down-time, I would make the effort to trek to a scenic park after work or plan weekend hiking and riding adventures.
People often say that you have to put your camera down in order to fully enjoy a moment, but for me (someone who rarely remembers to take photos at all), I’ve found the opposite to be true. Pulling out my phone to capture moments of fairy-tale scenery or good food with friends made me pause to think about how lucky I was to have these experiences to commit to memory in the first place.
Although the public nature of Instagram kept me accountable to my goal, it ultimately turned out to be a very personal pursuit. I found a lot of inspiration from the #dametraveler movement along the way. I love the focus on images that capture a feeling of connection between people and their environment – not just a stock landscape or a well-rehearsed pose against a backdrop. By restricting the individual to a diminished scale, the photos keep the existential experience of global travel in perspective – we are all small souls in an incomprehensibly huge universe!
In one of my last trips of the year, I took time to enjoy the summertime winds (and wine!) after a horse ride at Boschendal winery in Franschhoek Valley outside of Cape Town, which is pictured here. With the year almost over, I’ve decided to extend at least some aspects of this project into the coming year. Throughout 2017, I’ve been inspired to explore new places that I’ve always wanted to go, outside of my usual work trajectories. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2018 will bring!