I recently wrote an article for the explmore publication, titled Overlanding before it was a hashtag. Reflecting on my parents' story, I shared some of the unique differences between overland travel today and how they experienced it back in the late seventies. The article includes details about their vehicle setup, however speaking purely from a technology standpoint, their travel gadgets were considerably less sophisticated than what you might find inside the easy-glide storage drawers of some of today's explorer's rigs.
They had a point and shoot kodachrome film camera, with limited canisters, and used a standard ballpoint pen, paper and postage stamp to send news of their travels to family back home. This was not entirely down to choice, but actually because of what they had available to them. The technology we enjoy for convenience today obviously did not exist. Their “GPS” was a printed Michelin map and a standard compass, with which they regularly noted their position (especially when crossing the Sahara twice). Digital social media platforms would be like the talk of sci-fi movie plots, they didn’t exist either, and a “#” could be mistaken for an unplayed game of noughts and crosses.
We don’t even have to look that far back to compare. I’m old enough to remember a time before the luxury of being able to google something existed or the ability to order something online and delivered anywhere in the world. It wasn’t that long ago either when smartphones were first introduced as a means to navigate or capture a memory, let alone make a phone call. The rate of technology advancement, just in the last five years, is considerable.
I find it fascinating to make these retrospective comparisons against what is portrayed in the endless content we like, follow, and share today. None of it needs to be considered as better or worse than the other, just different, controlled by a time in history. Advanced technology has allowed travellers today to communicate easier, get up-to-date news and information faster, and travel longer with the ability to work online.
I will however share with you some sound advice from my parents: Remember to sometimes capture the moment and not the post. Allow yourself to get lost sometimes, by turning off the GPS. In doing so, you might be surprised by what you get to see and experience, things you may have otherwise missed out on.
One final note from my observations, is that no matter when people have ventured out, there exists a timeless theme: an eagerness to explore more of the world, engage with others, and embrace global cultures.