This Just In published an interesting interview with Alex Boylan, star of the upcoming show Around the World for Free. Boylan earned his fame and travel cred as the winner of the U.S. reality television show The Amazing Race 2. Please go read the interview, (watch this clip, if you choose,) then come back and join in the following discussion.
In principle, I agree with much of Boylan’s hard-earned advice and offer in many ways a less extreme version of the same ethos here on this blog.
At the same time, this project (and other travel experiences/blogs like it) lead me to reflect on how gendered travel can be. How many of these places and experiences were open to them simply because they were two young men rather than two young women undertaking this journey?
This is not to imply that women *couldn’t* do this trip or that women *shouldn’t* travel anywhere these men did, or that we are somehow inherently more fragile or weak than male travelers. But at the same time, women do consider the risks of rides or offers of accommodation from strange men, traveling in areas of unrest and even being out after dark differently from their male counterparts. Further, female travelers are harrassed and targeted in ways that men on the road are not. I’m sure it’s not possible to quantify the difference that this confidence and access makes, but I believe more effort should be made to note it.
I don’t pretend to represent all female travelers and would love to open a discussion on this subject. While I hope you will take my lead and leave your thoughtful comments primarily on this topic below, there are two more points I think are worth making.
As an anthropologist, I wonder to what degree the camera influenced their interactions with their subjects. Boylan touches on this only slightly in this excerpt and doesn’t reflect on how the camera affected his own behavior either.
Relatedly, does travel lose some of its transformative power when your home audience is so immediate? My college Russian professor thought we were spoiled because we had the internet while studying abroad; when he studied behind the Iron Curtain, the only contact with home came during 3-minute phone calls placed from the central telephone office. Now students can (and do) twitter and vlogcast their experiences just like Boylan did. But do we — in broadening the horizons of our friends, family and interested audiences “traveling along” with us — sacrifice our own deeper understanding, preventing full immersion by surrounding ourselves in a protective bubble of interaction with the familiar? Is there not something meaningful in unfettered escape from home?
Thanks in advance for your comments.
Related post: Traveling (Solo) Safely