While traveling in March I thought of an old American traveler named J. Bayard Taylor. Rolf Potts wrote in Vagabonding about how Taylor basically walked across Ireland, Britain, and Europe with “knapsack and staff,” to quote his book’s title. He went there in the 1800s, at a time when all of our electronic toys hadn’t been invented. Perhaps the most technologically advanced thing he had was a fountain pen. He was on my mind because I carried a lot more stuff than he did: A netbook, iPad, iPod, camera, phone, plus the requisite power cords.
Was all this stuff necessary? No, not strictly. I could have done without all of those things. They were only there for convenience sake. They made getting around easier. The netbook’s ethernet cord meant I wasn’t stuck with wifi in Japan. The iPod kept me jamming along on the trains. The music and the emails helped, yet I couldn’t help but wonder about Taylor and how he made his way across a continent with no electronic goodies.
It’s a decent read.
Bryson made his journey across Europe in the early 1990s, which, come to think of it, probably put him closer to Taylor’s position than mine: No computer, no digital camera, no music player, and no Internet. Also, it’s an informative and entertaining read.