Evolution of Travel and Travel Blogs
Have you ever wondered how Travel, as well as ways and means of capturing travel memories and travel experiences have evolved over time?
As I sit, punching in words on my laptop my mind wanders away in time and I see images of travelers on foot traversing across the most inhospitable terrains to go where none had gone before.
How Did Travel evolve
It is interesting to note that though the origin of the word Travel is lost in history it has strong connections with another word of French origin, ‘Travail’, which literally means ‘painful or laborious effort’. More interestingly both these words seem to have originated from the name of a Roman instrument of torture ‘Tripalium’.
Whatever be the origin of the word Travel, there is no doubt that the wanderlust or urge to travel seems to have been encoded in the DNA of humans. Early man must have traveled more as a necessity, in search of food. Slowly overcome by an unknown impulse which we now know as curiosity he would have embarked upon his journeys, initially taking small strides and then taking giant leaps which resulted in some of the great migrations of mankind. If not for this impulse of curiosity Man would have been confined to a smaller region of the earth and life on Earth would not have been as widespread as it is now. Travel is a catalyst that brings about great changes in the way we think and perceive the world and the environment. The changes may seem almost imperceptible, but they are happening all the time. Travel has evolved and transformed people.
Travel Blogs – How it all started
History has always fascinated me and from the various history lessons in School, there is one man whose name has remained etched in my memory, a man called Hiuen Tsang or Xuanzang, Hiuen Tsang was a Buddhist monk who was born in China in 602 AD. His insatiable thirst for knowledge about Buddhism saw him set off on foot to travel to India, to learn more about Buddhism.
In those days travel outside of China was not permitted and so to avoid being sent back, Hiuen Tsang took an uncharted route where there was no sign of life for miles and miles, he passed through deserts and mountains braving many a hardship and risking his life. He traveled across Central Asia including regions of Tashkent and Samarkand, taking the legendary Silk Route before arriving in India. He spent 17 years traveling across India before returning back to China. It is remarkable that in those days he kept a travel journal where he recorded his experiences and observations of the people he met, their culture and customs, the places he visited etc. This journal is famous as Hsi-Yu Chi or Great Tang Records on the Western Regions.
Probably this journal could be termed as the ancestor of today’s Travel Blogs.
So early travelers started documenting their travel experiences by writing about them. Even as early as 1500 BC, the Rig Veda has a mention about travel. There is a beautiful quote which extols the virtues of travel.
“There is no happiness for him who does not travel.
Thus we have heard. Living in the society of men, the best man becomes a sinner… therefore, wander!… The fortune of him who is sitting sits; it rises when he rises; it sleeps when he sleeps; it moves when he moves. Therefore, wander!”
As time marched on, the naturally curious nature of Man propelled him to explore the planet he inhabited. People started to travel for business, for discovery and for conquests. However, one of the earliest records of traveling for the sake of traveling and treating it as a pleasure is found in Petrarch’s “Ascent of Mount Ventoux” written in 1336. This is an account of how he ascended the mountain and reached the summit at a height of 1,912 meters. He categorically states that climbed the mountain just for the view from the top, he also allegorically compares the ascent to his own moral progression.
History is replete with instances of travelers penning down their experiences and later publishing their travel journals. As early as the 2nd century AD, a Greek traveler and geographer named Pausanias wrote a travelogue called “Description of Greece”, which was an account of his own experiences and observations of Greece. In 1816 Goethe published his “Italian Journey”, based on his travels to Verona, Venice, Bologna, Rome, Naples, Sicily and many other Italian cities of that time. In more recent times, Che Guevara’s “The Motorcycle Diaries” is a great example of a travel journal.
Many great writers penned masterpieces and set their stories in lovely places. You could check out our post on this here – Books Opened The Doors of the World.
The Internet and coming of age of Social Media
The advent of internet shrunk the world and made information available like never before. Riding on the internet wave another movement exploded on the face of the earth. A movement that we now call Social Media. Suddenly a traveler could share his experiences virtually in real time with his friends through Travel Blogs. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and many others ensured that anyone with a will and a passion for writing could get their writings noticed. Thus the travel journals and travel memoirs dramatically transformed into travel blogs as we know them today. Travel journals aka Travel Blogs of today are no longer confined to words, a journey may be described eloquently only through pictures or in the form of a video. Instagram, YouTube and other fora ensure that these visual accounts thrive and tell a story without a single word.
Isn’t the evolution of travel and travel blogs in itself a fascinating journey? Another fascinating and parallel journey is that of travel photography, do join us on this amazing journey in another of our upcoming posts.
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