The Art of (Not) Traveling

Updated: Aug 7, 2018

Raquette Lake, Adirondacks

I took this photo several years ago during a time when CAMPER GIRL was in limbo. I'd become interested in photography and attended a photo workshop with Mark Bowie.

When I think of Shannon's adventure through the Adirondacks, this is one of the images that comes to mind. In the distance is Blue Mountain, one of the Adirondack's most popular climbs. In the middle of the photo is Raquette Lake.

If you look closely, you'll see a light 'glowing' effect around the trees. This is a filter I applied in post-production, and while I'm not normally a fan of filters, this one seems to work in this case. I think it gives the landscape a dream-like quality. In a way, the photo looks like a painting.

I imagine this is a scene that Shannon paints from memory when she's much older and looking back on that first journey away from home. This landscape that's stuck in her mind all these years isn't of some far-off, exotic land; it's of a place just a few hours' drive from home -- essentially, her backyard.

These days, there is a huge importance placed on global travel. The message seems to be that the more you see, the hipper you are. The more fulfilled you'll be. The more 'free' you'll feel.

Places become bullet points to tick off. Cities and their attractions become bucket list items. Stop, click a selfie, move on to the next conquest. Social media is crowded with articles titled, "The Ten Places You MUST Visit Before You Die."


These types of things repulse me, to put it mildly. While I think travel can be life-changing and eye-opening and mind-expanding, I don't like how the act of visiting other places has become a sort of litmus test for measuring one's happiness.

I've visited London and Paris and Rome. I've swam with sharks in the Galapagos. I've stood atop Freedom Tower and on the edge of the Grand Canyon. I've experienced Alaska and Yosemite and the Everglades. There are many, many places that I have never been and will never see. And that's okay. I don't feel as if I'm missing anything. I feel so fortunate to have gone where I've gone.

One thing I've learned from this travel is how majestic and magical and wonderful my backyard is. I am blessed to belong to supportive, exciting communities and relish in simply staying home.

I've encouraged students bored with their little hometowns to travel. Heck, CAMPER GIRL is all about the importance of stepping out of the familiar. And personally, there are more places I'd like to visit (Iceland, New Zealand) -- but I don't believe that you have to jet off half-way around the world to 'find yourself.' I think that if you rely solely on your setting to dictate healing and growth, you could end up just as lost and unhappy as you ever were.

Where have you been? Where are you going? What have your travels taught you about yourself?