Pocket Gypsy Digest [Volume 2]
I’m back with a post-midnight edition of Pocket Gypsy Digest!* At this hour my sense of focus is severely diminished,** but please stick with it, because there are a few travel-related nuggets of wisdom nestled between mattresses of fluff. To give a little bit of context: in this post, I’m going to (attempt to) cover the potential for media awesomeness in the travel field. There are a few outstanding examples who’ve gotten a lot of coverage, so I’m just going to nail into that point, I guess. With that warning, here we go!
* Thought I had posted a second one of these before, but ah, seems I hadn’t. Now you see why I struggle with series. Here’s the first Pocket Gypsy Digest.
** These photos don’t have much to do with the text, but they will be contributing to the plumping out of certain underdeveloped Photo pages!
- My New Favorite Television Show: “An Idiot Abroad”
Netflix is a hell of a drug. While enjoying a total wash of a day today, I stumbled upon “An Idiot Abroad,” a British travel documentary created by the writers of the British “Office.” I can sense that I’m losing some of you when I write the word “documentary,” but don’t be fooled – it’s a documentary more of this hilariously uncomfortable Brit than the countries he’s sent to experience. The first season covers the Seven Wonders of the World, and the writers do a great job of sending Karl Pilkington through a perfect blend of absolutely foreign but highly localized cultural obstacle courses. If that last sentence didn’t make much sense to you, it’s my fault – I’m genuinely so surprised by how much I liked this show that I couldn’t quite describe it for a bit. To give you an idea, I actually laughed out loud, which I rarely ever do to television or movies. Dude makes some really salient points too though, so at times I have to question whether the term “idiot” in the title is absolutely accurate. (Or maybe I’m just an idiot for agreeing.)
- Pinterest for Travel: One of the Millions of Ways I Should Have Documented My Travel
My friend Aditi pointed me to this Pinterest travel board, which reminded me yet again that I didn’t do a very good job of documenting my travel. I do have a Pinterest, but I haven’t used it since I got it so I assume it wouldn’t be super useful to even track down the link to include it here. The Pinterest I provided though does contain a ton of travel inspiration though, so I’m a big fan. As I’ve mentioned before in my post “Thoughts on Documenting Your Travels (i.e. How To Not Be Like Me),” there’s a great deal of interesting content that travelers are buffeted with every day, so even partial note-taking can be a tremendous help to someone else. On that note, I’m going to start following my own advice and carry around a pocket-sized Mead notebook and an IKEA pencil, looking like an Indian Veronica Mars (if only).
- Post-Travel Refresher #1: The Great Language Game
Don’t say I didn’t tell you before: The Great Language Game can be highly addictive. It’s a wonderful brain teaser for long-term travelers, who have gotten so used to being around foreign dialects that hearing just random snippets of a different language can make one feel very nostalgic. It’s also a horrible game to play if you’re trying to settle down / save up, because it’ll remind you, amongst other things, of how fun it can be to get lost and navigate a new city where no one speaks your language. I do consider myself pretty good with identifying languages to a certain point, but this game makes me more conscious of the languages and cultures I never knew of before.
- Post-Travel Refresher #2: Duolingo
So you’re hooked on languages and now want to master one. Duolingo follows the trend of making learning “fun” (a relatively new concept, though to be fair I was/am a huge nerd and did standardized testing also for “fun”… “Vidya” means “knowledge and learning,” so…). Okay, probably not helping my cause, but Duolingo really is fun in the conventional sense and provides challenges and rewards that are in line with video-game success of the 90s. It’s totally free and it’s designed in a non-threatening, relaxed manner. I’m learning French and brushing up on Spanish, so it’s very morale-boosting to fly through the Spanish lessons when I’m frustrated about forgetting French pronouns. There are other languages as well, and the team is constantly expanding the number of languages offered. The best part for iPhone and Android users? You can do everything online and on the go!
- Post-Travel Refresher #3: JetPunk’s Countries of the World Quiz
This quiz is so addicting, like the rest of JetPunk as a catalogue, that I clicked on it simply to get the link and ended up playing the full twelve minutes. On the upside though, I finally broke 150! My best friend prides himself on being able to name all 196, and then jokes that there’s absolutely no application of this seemingly useless knowledge, but I disagree. Forcing kids to take this quiz over and over until they turn 18 could actually do wonders for improving youth awareness of the world as well as basic geography skills. For instance, I had no idea that Tuvalu and Nauru were countries, because I had absolutely no way of processing information about them. But now, if I read something or see some photo, I now have a folder in my brain in which to file that information, making my knowledge of that region more complete. At the risk of sounding too much like Miss South Carolina, I think we should have more maps in schools, and kids should be able to name at least 100. JetPunk’s an unconventional means to do it, but it can be done!
You might have heard of all of these, and may even have played/watched/learned from each one. But I think it bears repeating that these tools are more than just frivolous time-passes. Traveling is without a doubt an incomparable learning experience, but being home-bound doesn’t necessarily mean mental stagnation. Flex your brain muscle, build your global repertoire, and enjoy the surprisingly honest observations of others abroad. For those of us anxious to hit the road again, this is the best way to keep busy until that next journey.