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Sharing Your Travel Photos and Experiences

gps and mapHigh-Tech: Track Your GPS Coordinates
On a recent hike in the Cascade Mountains, a friend took along a GPS system for very practical reasons -- that is, so as not to get completely lost. What he did when he was finished hiking each day, however, was pure high-tech travel blog: he uploaded the record of where he had hiked that day to a Web application that mapped out the entire route, and then sent the link to the map to his friends. It worked like a charm; he had his entire office tracking the hike on a daily basis, and it became the water cooler topic of the week back home.

If you are not GPS'd to the hilt like this guy was, you can simply post the GPS coordinates of the attraction or place you most enjoyed that day, and let folks dial it up on a map to figure out what you were up to. I did this on a trip that went from Bordeaux through Biarritz into Bilbao and back. Folks followed the progress of the trip routinely and quietly, but when we stopped in a tiny fishing village for three days, our e-mail boxes exploded with questions -- where are you, why did you stop, should I visit there too? (Even beyond the topic of this article, this was a great example of the power of simply stopping amidst so much moving, and a completely unexpected highlight of sharing our travels.)

Matt isn't the only one with a novel approach to sharing his travel videos; there's a guy named Daniel Brown who gets people he meets on his trip to say his name into his video camera, and then compiles them into greatest hits shows, much as Matt does. (Here's a short sample from YouTube.)

Another approach I have seen is to video a long walk in silence, thereby replicating the experience of arriving alone as a stranger in a strange town. An Indian visitor to my folks' home town on the New Jersey coast turned on his video camera when he got off the train into town, and wordlessly videoed the bus ride and walk to the house of the friends he was visiting. He turned off the video as the front door opened; while you had to be able to endure a very mundane video absolutely lacking a punchline, the effect was an experience much like that of arriving in a small town in Europe for the first time, where everything is strange and new, despite seeming utterly familiar.

man with video cameraVenues
You don't have to become a YouTube sensation to share your travels with your friends; as noted above, the Web site of a popular GPS company can serve as well as the world's most popular video site. That said, here are some choice venues for your travel dispatches:

  • E-mail: Presenting your travel memories doesn't have to be a high-tech endeavor; if you're not ready for YouTube, Flickr, Google or your own Web site, just send an e-mail! (This approach may even lead you to other venues; an Olympic athlete I know has been writing letters home to a small cc list, and someone at the Wall Street Journal saw one. A short time later the paper was posting the letters on its Web site. Instant celebrity strikes again.)

  • Trip Reports: When your trip is over, compile your best memories and tips into a trip report to share with family and friends. (And don't forget to e-mail your accompanying photos to tripreports@independenttraveler.com; we'll add them to your report.)

  • Blogging Sites: The most popular all-purpose blogging sites include Wordpress.com, Blogger.com and Blogspot.com. These can accommodate almost any of the approaches above. You may also want to try sites designed specifically for travel blogs, such as Travelpod.com or RealTravel.com.

  • Photography Sites: You can easily turn your travel photojournal into an online gallery at any of the big photo hosting sites, such as Flickr.com, Snapfish.com, Shutterfly.com, SmugMug.com and more. Hoorray.com offers similar photo hosting services but also allows you to add audio commentary to your photos. Many of these sites also provide photo printing services in case your mom wants a photo of you running with the bulls in Pamplona for the fridge.

  • Video: YouTube is the obvious choice. Google, Yahoo! and many others also provide video uploading platforms.

  • Your Own Web Site: This can be a lot more work, but the upside of this approach is that folks always know where to find you, they don't need a login (as they might at some photo sites), and very few other people will see your videos if you prefer not to become a YouTube sensation like Matt. Not everyone is looking for global fame and sponsored trips; some of us just want to show our friends our vacation pictures.

    Go Anyway,
    Ed Hewitt
    Features Editor
    The Independent Traveler

    Editor's Note: IndependentTraveler.com is published by The Independent Traveler, Inc., a member of the TripAdvisor Media Network, which also owns TravelPod.com.
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