From FuturEd to TravelEd

From FuturEd to TravelEd – here’s my emerging travel website and blog philosophy. Well, it’s maybe not a real philosophy – it’s the sum of “5W and H” I blog today in February 2018.  I say this because by blog/website is new, so I get new ideas and make changes every day it seems.  Today, I have been challenged to put this in writing because I am making a big shift in my web presence.  

Who am I?  kcbarker is my personal persona – as distinct from the professional education futurist that exists in my alternate world.  I am in the really interesting process of transforming from a professional educator to a full-time traveler and adventurer- from FuturEd to TravelEd.  I think I have about 30 more years to actively explore the world, and I want to keep a record.

What do I blog?  As a long-term expatriate Canadian, I have had the privilege of extensive working travel and personal adventure.  Over the years, Facebook friends have told me they travel vicariously through me and they eagerly await my new photos and observations.  They have inspired me to do this, and maybe it will turn into my Great Book one day.  Until then, this is my effort to keep a better record for the grandchildren who may never know me.  This is my story, my travel portfolio, my insights and aspirations.

Where?  I categorize my travels into 3 major locations because my life is focused equally on:

  1. Oman, where I chose to live because of my bedouin inclinations,
  2. China, which enchants me because I think I was Chinese in a previous lifetime, and
  3. all the places in between which make me feel very much At Home in the World.

Why?  Primarily, I use my blog to showcase my photographs because I seem to have an alert eye for interesting details and intriguing faces, and I have accumulated thousands of travel pictures that I’d like to share.  Secondarily, I use my blog to curate travel wisdom and opportunities that have influenced my thinking.  Essentially, my blog is a website of photos, cultural information and inspiration from a life well-traveled.

What’s in it for the reader?  I understand there are countless great travellers and bloggers out there, and I don’t have the killer instinct to compete with them for readership.  Also, I don’t need to monetize my web presence, although the concept interests me as do all the ideas around self-publishing, digital marketing and ePortfolios.  I am blogging to improve my writing and because people seem to appreciate my unique perspectives.  What are those?

  1. I travel alone almost exclusively – and there are huge advantages to that.  I often have access to private kindnesses and family spaces because I look like everybody’s grandmother.
  2. I travel relatively unfrequented paths – the far corners of Oman and the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, the length and breadth of fabulous China, special spots in Malaysia, Vietnam, Canada, Cambodia, Maldives, Italy.  I often photograph places most people will never see.
  3. By choice, I travel mindfully and frugally – so no fancy resorts, expensive restaurants and luxury spas.  Well, maybe –  a few of them.  But I’m not a backpacker either, so I find inexpensive boutique hotels, fascinating street food, and localized wellness opportunities for a not-so-young woman abroad.
  4. I travel fearlessly but with logical caution off the beaten track.  Using critical web apps like Ctrip and WeChat (for language translation) in China, and specialized local tourist sites elsewhere, I wander joyfully on fast trains, slow boats, questionable tuktuks and whatever.  I prefer to drive and wander, but that isn’t always possible and I so resent that I cannot rent a car in China.  However,  using local guides with cars, like those I find on Viator, leaves me feeling really informed while chauffeur-driven.  On my own, I walk into villages and through back streets and often find the best pictures there – real people doing real things.
  5. Because I teach intercultural leadership, I make an effort to acknowledge, appreciate and compare traditions and cultural expressions.  In preparation for my trips, I read history and current events in my destination, the travel adventures of others, and web-based travel advice.  I use “the top 10 things” on TripAdvisor as a  starting-point checklist, always.  I try to go deeper, and I seldom just cruise into and out of destinations.
  6. I often travel in role of Visiting International Professor,  engaging closely with local communities and living like a local for a short period of time.  I have privileged insights that the casual traveler never has the chance to experience.

I hope that all of these perspective appeal to some readers and inspire them to adventure.

As importantly, I have now begun to travel with some themes in mind, and I’m currently planning a year (each) of:

  • ed-ventures – targeted learning like earning my TEFL certificate on an island in Thailand, in addition to learning more about blogging, travel photography, and self-publishing;
  • med-ventures – sensible and innovative wellness “treatments” like Ayurveda pampering in Sri Lanka and India;
  • mid-ventures –  blending the exotic action with thoughtful time aboard slow boats on long rivers – the Mekong and the Nile; and
  • mad-ventures – enchanting festivals like Burning Man, which has fascinated me for years, and the Rainforest Music Festival in Borneo that I’ve so enjoyed in the past.

These will become sub-themes on my emerging blog/website, searchable by readers for their own purposes. Weaving throughout, I will curate travel wisdom from those who inspire and inform me.  Bottom line?  I am endlessly curious and addicted to the rush of stepping into the unknown.