How Do You See the World?

Hello All –

In two short weeks, the 2019 edition of The Global Scavenger Hunt will have begun its 23-day around the world travel adventure. Leaving your expectations at home unpacked hidden in the closet, the question is asked: How will you see the world? There are many ways…

Will your eyes be wide-open…our will you need Braille to assist you?

Will you be ready to eat anything, anywhere?

Will you have preconceived ideas?

Will you embrace our planet’s connectivity?

Do you see the world in the abstract?

Will you see the forest for the trees and see the bigger picture?

Will you bear witness to the beauty everywhere we go?

Will you see it in a different way?

…Or the same old, same old?

Will you get past the labels?

Where will the winds of serendipity take you?

Are you a water person, a land person or a green person?

…and escape the tribalism of the old world point of view?

Will jet lag and time overwhelm you?

Will it be cleansing or clogging experience?

Will you get turned upside down?

Will you let go and embracing the unknown?

…No matter where you go on your Blind Date with the World.

Will you be ready for le grande voyage awaiting you?

This is how we see the world…all the places left for the event to go?

How will you get your head around it?

So…start asking yourself: How do I want to see the world?

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Baker’s Dozen Travel Photo Tips

Taking good photos on a great trip isn’t as easy as it looks; but it’s also not as hard as it seems either. Good photos rarely just happen—but they can occur more often if you know a few tips. It just takes a little pre-trip preparation and some eyes-wide-open situational awareness on the go.

We want you to take home some amazing pictures to match the transformative travel experiences you’ll have over the coming 23-days circling the globe. We know that capturing some of the eye-dazzling sights and scenes that simply defy words, will help you extend your memories of those experiences. Yet on the other hand, we don’t want picture taking to get in the way of your experiences, or the people you will meet along the way, and so, being fluent and comfortable taking those photos is important.

Over the years, we have been lucky enough to have some of our travel photos published in scores of international outlets; and our philosophy on travel photography is simple: that a little prep goes a long way. That said, below are a handful of tried and true photo tips that we’ve acquired over the years from both fellow travelers and professional photographers alike that have helped us take better pictures—one’s that verge on professional quality. Some, you already know but worth remembering their relevance; while some are new, that you should absorb before you go. Old or new, make no mistake, they will help you better capture your coming memories of a lifetime.

Here are eleven simple tips to help you take better travel photos:

1. Before you go: Know your camera, learn its options; read the manual, know manual mode. Give your trusty camera a tune-up too: clean the lens, reset dates, set picture size, replenish your batteries, and get a larger memory chip because it is always better to set your digital camera on the higher size and finest quality; because it’s easier to make them smaller—not bigger.

2. Before you go: Briefly familiarize yourself with a few basic photographic techniques/concepts, like: the rule of thirds; leading lines; balance; eye-lines; triangles; horizons; single points; frame within a frame; and depth…then go out and break all those rules. Consider taking an hour to take photos testing your newfound techniques…practice makes perfect.

3. Before you go
: Look at your photos from a previous trip and study your worst pictures—they are your best teachers. Think of what you could have done to take better photos. File those critical thoughts away.

4. While traveling: Charge/recharge your batteries every night, and download/upload photos each day to prevent loss due to chip corruption or camera loss.

5. While traveling
: Be more self-aware; we don’t want taking selfies to get in the way of experiencing it: live it, don’t just capture it. And practically, the easiest way to extend your camera’s battery power is to turn off your viewing screen and to stop chimpinglooking at your playback like a trained monkey, going, “Oo-Oo-Ooo” Experience the present moment in front of you—not your camera’s memory of it! Try hard to counteract this impulse, you will have plenty of time to relive them later

6. Light matters, a lot! The best time (ambient light) for taking photos is just before and after dawn and dusk. Those couple hours are known as the photographic Golden Hour (brilliant & bolder hues); these transitionary periods are always the most interesting times of day as well as the best time because the must-see sights are usually not very busy. Markets look more colorful. Nature is alive. Religious rituals take place. Ordinary people’s day are either just beginning or ending. High, noon-day sun plays havoc on photos. (Always have your subjects facing the sun during daylight hours unless you like dark silhouettes?! Shade can be your friend; but remember that flashes at close range do work in the sun and helps to counter sun and shadows.) Remember that if you see glare in the viewfinder—it will be in the picture; so, use your hand near the lens to shield the sun/glare. Also remember that when taking pictures if you must decide between over-exposing or under-exposing a photo…chose the former, because it is always easier to tone down the light—much harder to add light later. BTW: Sunsets aren’t that interesting—it’s true. We see them—every day—and they mostly all look the same; much better to be counter-intuitive and turn around to see what interesting subjects the light that sunset is casting on.

7. Zoom in with your feet, not your lens. Get as close as you can to your subject/object…now get one-step closer…fill the frame. Get the details of a place instead of always taking wide angle shots by looking small rather than large; angle out clutter in your background by moving three feet left or right. Point is, Zoom in with your feet.

8. Make ordinary photos extraordinary by finding creative alternative unconventional vantage points. Don’t be lazy: walk, kneel, or climb to get a closer and better angle. Once you pick a central subject/object, build a good picture around it before you click it. Think about your framed picture: Is there anything here I don’t want in my photo? What is around the edges—do you want it in the photo? A blur of light? A sign? Litter? A thumb? Remember a picture is worth a 1,000-words. What are you trying to say taking this photo? Happiness, beauty, speed, a color? Look for scene juxtapositions that reveal contrasts: old/new, sacred/profane, big/small, geographic transitions. BTW: Vertical photos are good too!

9. To avoid shutter lag, always lock your focus before you snap. It is the difference between blurred and missed photos, and clear timely photos. Pressing your shutter release button halfway down, not only focuses but automatically picks an exposure setting too.

10. Most posed photographs suck. We know you went to Machu Picchu; we don’t need to see several photos of you there posing for an execution. Better to capture the feeling of spontaneity, of movement, of candid in-the-moment shots versus staged poses. Keep your subjects busy and look for fun shots, action shots, the weird and wacky; you know, the ones that are always much more interesting. And pet peeve: Don’t automatically encourage your subjects to smile: Allow them to be shy or pensive or curious, themselves.

11. Photographers need to have ethics. Always ask permission to take a close up of someone; and always adhere to the posted “no photos,” and/or “no flash” rules. If you’re ever in doubt about taking pictures, ask before you shoot. Two things make for better people pictures: 1) Make friends first and you practically invite great photos—never pass up on this opportunity to make new friends; and 2) Ask for their e-mail/text so that you can send them a copy. It’s just plain polite.

12. Finally, taking short videos with your camera can be fun too, when you follow a few rules of thumb: Avoid herky-jerky unnecessary zooming and panning (it is really annoying); try to pick your zoom levels before pressing record and then keeping them constant during your shoot. When scanning, keep each scene going for about 3-5 seconds, never longer than about 10 seconds. Shoot different angles and distances…there are three basic shots: Wide Shot, a Mid Shot and a Close Up. Always keep your camera as steady as possible—try not to walk too much while shooting… or talk too much either! Always shoot more than you need; you can always delete footage, but you cannot take more after you’re gone. And remember, good video is about action and reaction, try to have both in each shot. Finally, we are big proponents of 1-minute video takes—as you will soon find out.

Have fun and enjoy your around the world photos.

Did we miss something important? Please let us know at: GSH (at) GlobalScavengerHunt (dot) com

© 2000-20 GreatEscape Adventures, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Reducing Your Travel Environmental Impact

We have all heard that old eco-friendly travel truism: “Take only pictures, leave only footprints.”

No matter our noble intentions, the fact is that travel, all types of travel, leave a big footprint.

How big? Needless to say, there are a lot of numbers, statistics and anecdotes: One recent 2018 comprehensive study of the travel & tourism industries impact (including not just air travel, but hotel usage, eating out, renting cars, group tours, cruise ships, and even souvenir purchases) showed that it was responsible for an estimated 8% of all global greenhouse gas emissions (along with 10.5% of global GDP and one in ten jobs). But sadly, the emissions were three times what was previously thought. And that impact is even bigger per person, when you consider the fact that as little as three percent of the entire global population flew in 2017. (FYI: At most, only about 18 percent of us have ever flown in an airplane!) That means that just three percent of us contribute eight percent of all climate chaos-inducing emissions annually.

There is no doubt that the human activity of travel, be it for business, pleasure or family obligation, adversely effects the environment. None. It is an inconvenient truth. That said, it is an unintended consequence of development, and it is a wealth problem. Collectively, being wealthier is good (we live longer, lead healthier lives, are better educated, have fewer kids, enjoy more enriching experiences, and live more peacefully), BUT, as more people become wealthier, more people are traveling than ever before…and it will continue to grow: there were 4.3 billion global air passengers in 2018—and every year since 2009 has been a new record-breaker. (Can you say over-tourism!)

We have chosen to travel, not only because of the obvious hedonistic aspects of travel, but because we acknowledge the true benefits of travel include, among other things: living longer; being healthier; raised global and collective consciousness; human interactions; never-ending learning; peaceful coexistence; and broader-based economic development (one in ten jobs in developing countries depend on the travel & tourism sector). Clearly, the meaning of our lives is undertaking new experiences; meeting new people and experiencing new cultures. This is our calculus, our cost-benefit analysis—our choice.

Our lives are full of lifestyle choices, one’s that directly impact the environment: Yes, travel does seriously affect the environment, it is viably the sixth, or seventh, most detrimental lifestyle choice we make after: 1) having children; 2) using a car (let alone more than one); 3) our diet (livestock account for around 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gases each year!); 4) the types of energy we use (fossil fuels vs. renewables); 5) our use of plastics; 6) the size of our homes; 7) do you vote for climate friendly candidates who support a universal carbon tax or Green New Deal; 8) what we do with our body when we die; and 9) not flying, of course. Obviously, it is sexier to debate capricious travelers than to change our entire lifestyles and daily habits. The moral of the story is that climate heroes without carbon footprints don’t exist. No one makes perfect life choices all the time, but we can make positive choices.

Okay, so what is to be done? How can we minimize our carbon footprint while still electing to enjoy the enriching benefits of travel?

We at The Global Scavenger Hunt™ have always had a code of conduct—things we suggest our participants do while traveling that maybe help mitigate some of the negative effects that result from our desire for adventure and travel.

But first, here’s what we do in putting together our annual around the world travel adventure: 1) we attempt to stay at properties that operate on a low or neutral carbon impact philosophy; 2) we attempt to take as many long-haul flights as possible and as many direct nonstop flights as possible, fly on newer fleets of fuel-efficient aircraft and avoid all manner of cruise ships (which emit three to four times more carbon dioxide per passenger than commercial flights!), thus reducing our CO2 footprint per passenger per kilometer; 3) we attempt to use mass transit as much as possible; 4) we attempt to eat and drink as locally as possible; 5) we travel in the off peak shoulder season, thereby lessoning the stresses and strains of overtourism on our selected destinations; and finally, 6) we attempt to educate our travelers to make wiser choices when traveling. Specifically, we recommend:

As for our travelers: We hope that they travel with the philosophy of doing no harm. Being conscious of your actions: minimizing your footprint as best you can, reducing the energy and water you use, and the waste you create. Think GREEN. Pack it in—pack it out. Leave nothing in your wake. Don’t litter and never leave graffiti—even if it appears to be a custom.

We encourage you to walk and bike as often as possible.

We encourage you to use public transportation (buses, trains, subways, sailboats, etc) as much as possible; not employ private car hires.

We encourage you to enjoy locally produced foods and beverages; and to go vegetarian when possible. Avoid eateries that serve you food on plastics when you can.

We encourage you to use reef-friendly sunscreens, sans oxybenzone.

We encourage you to use reusable eco-sac bags (that we provide).

We encourage you to use reusable water bottles—filling them up after you pass through security at the airport & getting them filled at your hotel (that we provide).

We encourage you to buy goods in recyclable glass bottles or aluminum cans versus single-use plastic bottles.

We encourage you to BYO washable straw everywhere you go.

We encourage you to pack less (lighter) and more thoughtfully, think: digital media, refillable biodegradable shampoos and laundry detergents, putting snacks in reusable containers, and the use of sanitary cups, etc.

We encourage you, when you are given the opportunity, to use a local homestay (aka Airbnb) versus a big box hotel.

We encourage you to take part in optional volunteering scavenges that support both local environmental and social projects.

We encourage you to use less precious water: to take shorter showers and to reuse towels.

We encourage you to shut off the air conditioning of your rooms when not occupying them.

We encourage you to purchase and consume locally made products/brands.

We encourage you to do your best and think GREEN.

Finally, we are often asked about corporate greenwashing, and the purchase of carbon offsets. Well, obviously, corporations are notorious for greenwashing their activities, but we do our best to weed them out. Admittedly, we are not 100% successful in that endeavor. The jury is still out on the carbon offsets idea: offsets do not actually reduce emissions—they just assuage our so-called traveler’s guilt; in many cases they are schemes, new for-profit charades (although they are getting better and there are some good entities out there like Cool Effects & Rainforest Trust); and the premise that you can pay for your environmental sins rubs many the wrong way, akin to making a donation to SPCA so you can keep hitting Fido, paying someone else to diet for you, getting a get out of jail free card!

All things being equal, I myself firmly believe that only a strongly incentivizing carbon tax model, that takes into account all the facets of travel—not just jet fuel, but also the cost of mining the metals for planes, building airports, launching navigation satellites, etc.—ought to immediately be imposed all travelers and included in the price of every airline ticket, because clearly environmental costs (negative externalities) are not captured in the price we pay for airline tickets—and ought to be.

Bottom-line, yes there are some negative externalities (I am an economist after all!) to traveling, period, full stop. We do get it! But we see travel as a force of good in the world, for both we the traveler and the places and the people we visit. It keeps families together. It makes us healthier productive citizens. Travel offers us an inexhaustible source of learning, curiosity, empathy, friendships, novelty, and wonder. It provides us with profoundly humbling and enriching experiences. Travel can be equally transformational for both parties of the exchange. It can foster peace, love and understanding…things we desperately need (more of)…but yes, travel can also be a completely hedonistic selfish wasteful experience for those not thoughtful. Travel thoughtfully.

Thanks for reading. (Please don’t print this to save paper!)

Suggestions? Please e-mail us at: GSH (at) GlobalScavengerHunt (dot) com

© 2000-20 GreatEscape Adventures, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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