Boarding Pass – Anne Ditmeyer / Prêt à Voyager

With nearly 100 Boarding Pass features under my belt, I felt it was time I finally put myself to the test and respond to the questions first hand. I leave for a week long trip to Venice later tonight which is looking to be quite the adventure, so it seemed the perfect time to reflect on my own travel philosophies. With 30 countries and 47 US states under my belt, here’s my take on things. Bon voyage! –Anne

{Reflections in the souks of the Marrakesh medina}

last trip taken:
Most of my travels these days are dictated by my friends weddings, so I try to use that as a starting point, and plan my travels around that. This summer for my adventures home, I started in San Francisco, then headed to San Diego for the wedding (aka seeing tons of friends in one place), flew out of LAX, then to DC to see my parents and friends, and up to Baltimore (my home for 5 years before moving to Paris). Three weeks total – how European of me! Much better than my 10 days of vacation a year at my old job.

{Gnome in Paris}

next trip on deck:
Tonight I leave for Venice on a first class overnight train to Venice (hey, it was cheaper than 2nd class!). Staying in an awesome apartment that I won through the Grantourismo travel writing contest – this trip seemed like the perfect experiment excuse to follow their lead and to practice working remotely. My friend Margaret (another traveler extraordinaire, see her Boarding Pass here) and I had loosely talked about this trip for several months, but it only all just came together last week and she’s the true inspiration for the trip. We also have one night at the swanky hotel before heading out on the Orient Express to London (both thanks to perks of Margaret’s job!). I’ll hang out in London for a day before taking the Eurostar back to Paris. It’s an all train travel adventure, which makes my father proud. I keep pinching myself and it’s like I get to lead someone else’s fabulous life for the week. I feel like I’m about to go on the Titanic (but just not on water).

{Market in Hong Kong, but it’s always fun to find the ethnic markets in the city I’m living in – it help transport me back to the place.}

one place you would go back to again and again:
My friend Jason always would tell me that he loved to travel to new places, but Paris is the one place he’d always return to. With my third time living in Paris, I think I have a similar philosophy, but these days I admit I find myself enjoying returning to places I’ve already been, so I can take an even slower and local pace and see something familiar, but in a new way.

{Iceland street art}

place you’d most likely recommend a friend go visit:
Iceland. I was only there for 24 hours, but I found it an amazing place. India and Japan are also high on my list.

{Temple, southern India}

{Market, India}

preferred method of transportation:
I love walking to explore a city because one-way streets suddenly become 2-way, and it’s a great way to avoid traffic (my pet peeve). This is also the reason I love small big cities – like Paris – that are highly accessible by foot, and getting lost is a good thing because you never know what you’ll discover. I have a strong love of public transportation too, and when my car died several years ago, I saved so much money by not having one, it was the perfect excuse for at least one international trip a year. Trains are in my blood too, thanks to my father.

{Adventures in traffic in Vietnam}

{Rickshaw in India}

{Meeting of the waters, Brazil}

place you’ve never been but dying to go:
Buenos Aires, and not only because it’s called the Paris of Latin America.

{Nuns and Che in Cuba}

place you’d never go back:
Having moved around a lot when I was younger (Minnesota, Kansas, Idaho, Virginia), I’m a firm believer it’s possible to find your niche anywhere you go. For me, China was a place that didn’t grab me like I thought it would. I’d probably return to a smaller city if I went back.

{Happy vendor with his mega cucumbers in a market in China}

most memorable trip in 2 sentences or less:
Berlin, Cyprus and Iceland – 2 weeks total. I flew to Berlin with my best friend for a few days before heading off to Cyprus where I experienced the “big fat Greek wedding” first hand of my college roommate (an amazing adventure), then back to Berlin where my friend Aaron met me, and then on my way home I took advantage of Icelandair free stop overs to check out Iceland for 24 hours (it also happened to be during Iceland Airwaves, a very cool music festival).

{Big Fat Greek wedding in Cyprus}


how do you prepare for a trip?
Most of my travels involve visiting friends, which helps answer the question where to stay, and I already have a built-in local expert. I’ll take some notes of things I find on blogs, NYT Travel and twitter, particularly if they are design related, but in general I don’t plan too much. I’m a logistical thinker and I don’t like to backtrack, so in an ideal world, I’d roughly map out where things are just so I can be sure not to miss something if I’m in the neighborhood. I think Afar.com is a great resource for insider tips. Honestly, I’ll probably start planning what I’ll do in Venice by sitting at a café in Venice. This trip I’m excited to test out the interactive WHAI WHAI guide for Venice, as well as my ANYWHERE deck of cards.
{Visiting Cameroon while my best friend was doing Peace Corps there was an amazing experience, and I got into the culture in a way I wouldn’t have on my own}

{Floating market, Vietnam}

how do you record your travels when you’re traveling?
Most of my pictures come from my iPhone these days, and I like that it saves the step of downloading, and I can share instantly by uploading from my phone. I use Flickr to share my best shots from the trip (trying to limit myself to 100-200 shots). My best photos go on my blog, and I try to share some kind of helpful or unique guide that doesn’t feel like everything that’s already on the web. I don’t always keep a journal (even less so because I find myself always having to travel with my laptop to keep up with my freelance work), but when it’s a more serious trip, I do. My favorite journal I ever created was in Thailand and Cambodia. Instead of trying to write a story of everything we did, I taped in various things I found along the way, and bullet points and business cards helped tell a lot of the story.
what is your favorite thing to photograph in a new place?
I like really mundane things. It’s probably a tie between grocery store/market shots and general signage – I love words, typography and different languages. I also really enjoy “shooting from the hip” which makes each shot a bit of a surprise, and makes me feel less like every other tourist with a camera.

{Shot from the hip in Fez, Morocco}

on an average, how many pictures to you take on a trip?
Probably 500-1,000

{Vending machine, Japan}

{Uncle Ben’s in a Berlin supermarket}

what’s in your “designer travel kit” ?
My iPhone 3GS (I use the ShakeIt Photo app a lot), a Canon G12 (an amazing camera that is the best of both worlds – a perfect upgrade from a point-and-shoot, yet smaller and more practical than a dSLR), my 15″ MacBookPro laptop (and cords), sometimes my iPad2 (but I was really disappointed how difficult it is to blog and upload pictures from it). I like Moleskine notebooks for journaling, and I also have a cool 5-Year Diary my friend Landon gave me a couple years ago.

{Hong Kong signage at night}

what do you do after a trip? how long after a trip does this happen?
I find if I don’t do something right away (i.e. download/upload photos) it doesn’t happen. So the biggest perk of traveling with my laptop is being able to organize my photos and share them as I go (although, I also try not to re-tell stories in a solely chronological fashion). My blog obviously gives me the perfect outlet to share my adventures. Next up, I’d like to find more ways to integrate my graphic design skills to illustrate my travels. If only there were more hours in the day…
{As a rower myself, it was a very cool experience to happen upon a regatta in Hong Kong}

favorite souvenir/thing to bring back?
When I was on Semester at Sea, a 10-country voyage around the world, I tried to pick up a little something in each place. The “stuff” added up fast and most of it I didn’t really need. I find that taking pictures are my favorite memories. These days I am draw to homewares – I have an eclectic, mis-match style– so I am thankful I did make some purchases during my early travels.
{I’ve been fortunate to have had a range of experiences on my travels. In India I got to help paint this school, and later visited and orphanage to hang out with the kids.}

why did you start this blog?
Design blogs were the first blogs I discovered and I thought they were really great. The travel blogs were out there, but lacked the sense of style I desired (both aesthetically and it terms of having a philosophy beyond travel for the masses), so I wanted to start something that was a blend of the best of both worlds. I was very lucky to grow up in a family where travel is a way of life and something we just do, so I wanted to find a way to share what I’ve learned along the way with others. My blog has not only become a database of my favorite ideas and inspiration over the years (and a great creative outlet from my then day job), but also has been an amazing tool to meet and connect with people over the years. Nearly every week I connect with someone new who I’ve “met” thanks to my blog or twitter. It helps make it a small[er] world. . . I must also thank my parents for giving me a love of travel at an early age and teaching me the importance of keeping in touch long before the internet gave us the tools to do so. It’s definitely influenced the way I see things: travel is not about where you go, but how you see the world.

LINKS

BOARDING PASS is a weekly column looking at the creative ways people travel. This edition is by the creator of this blog/column.

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