Travel & Technology: How Times Have Changed

My mother has discovered video calls on Skype, which has made me a frequent guest at various family gatherings recently. It’s been amazing, seeing everyone and talking and laughing with them. We’ve joked how years from now, we won’t be able to remember how I was able to attend all these events while obviously living overseas.

Just yesterday, while sitting on Marco’s porch here in Rome and trying to decide if I should bring in the laundry as the sky turned a charcoal grey, I got a text message on my phone from my father to get online and open Skype – Dick and Bob were over for lunch and wanted to say hi.

Dick and Bob are two of my “grownups,” fellow cast mates when I was in a national touring company of Annie about a million years ago. Now that I’m pushing 40, it seems funny to continue to refer to them that way – but I always have, and old habits die hard. Dick is in Philly doing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and he and Bob decided to go “down the shore” for the day to visit with my parents.

(Have I really known them for almost 30 years? It just occurred to me that my mother was younger than I am now when her clearly insane daughter decided to become an actress, taking her away from her PTA meetings – and her husband – for an inordinate length of time.)

When I travel now, shuttling back and forth between Rome and the South of France, I find that the majority of my packing list involves a tangled rat’s nest of wires, cables, chargers, plugs, gadgets and other accoutrements of the 21st century traveler. But I remember back in 1981 when we discovered the Walkman, and marveled at its tiny size and space-age headphones.

I also remember receiving packages from my 5th (then 6th, then 7th) grade class back home, with construction paper cards made in art class; I remember being pen pals with a Girl Scout troupe we met in Boston, and how our mail had to be routed through the producers’ office in New York and then sent in bulk to our stage manager; and sadly, all these years later, I remember way too little about the dozens of cities we visited, too few moments captured on film and preserved in yellowing cellophane albums.

It’s a fascinating world, show business, and child actors in particular have a unique story to tell. When people – and by people I mean, women my age – find out I was in Annie as a kid, they invariably have a million questions for me. I wonder how my own experience would have been different, and if I would have been able to tell my stories better, if I had access to email, digital pictures, social networks, YouTube, blogs, Twitter and the like while on the road.

There are lots of families who have taken to the road for a wide variety of reasons, and their stories can be found easily enough online in many media formats. But, those stories are told by the parents – in fact, I’ve never seen a blog entry, let alone a blog, written by a kid who’s traveling. So, to all those traveling families out there – whether on vacation or on an open-ended trip – why not make your kids be a guest blogger on your site? How about giving them the camera for the day, and seeing the world through their eyes? Or, have them narrate a walk through their typical, yet entirely exotic, day?

4 thoughts on “Travel & Technology: How Times Have Changed

  1. You never stop surprising me… didn’t know about your past as a child actor!?
    Those of you out there our traveller writer and Actress lives just 10 meters away from my house,next time she comes round she will be roped to the sofa and will be released only after exhaustive and extensive recalls on this subject
    Then I will start a blog on my friendship with ever amazing Missexpatria.
    happy Easter Hag Sameach
    Leo

  2. Yes, webcams and the internet DOES make it a whole new world and one can live any where today, immersing deeply in a new culture, while still being part of the culture at home.

    As you know, we are a family into our 3rd year of an open ended world tour & our daughter was 5 when we began and she is 8 now. She does participate regularly on our soultravelers3 blog and youtube channel.

    She even has her own blog, although she is not that active on it yet as she is still getting her typing skills going. As she gets older, I am sure she will be doing more and more.

    She keeps a daily diary and here are some of it from when she was 5 seeing Van Gogh:

    http://www.soultravelers3.com/2006/09/mozarts-diary.html

    and 6 with Mona Lisa

    http://www.soultravelers3.com/2006/09/3-museums-in-a.html

    7 visiting Florence:

    http://www.soultravelers3.com/2008/03/kids-view-of-fl.html

    We have a ton more and our videos and photos really capture her experience ( keeping it fresh for her, documenting forever and also a tool for the thousands of disadvantaged school kids & homeschoolers that come with us virtually).

    Until a child is old enough to document it all themselves, it is just more work for the parent. It is just not that easy even for adult writers to document their travels while traveling, so add all the joys of family life, plus homeschool, touring, researching the next location, and time for fun….and there are only so many hours in a day.

    This year Mozart did her first John Hopkins University’s CTY online class and she really enjoyed that ( just finishing today)…but again it takes up time just like her webcam piano lessons from another continent. She also just got an Mp3 player and is learning some html so is gaining more interest in the digital arena. She talks to other kids via webcams and has been interviewed by kids with it, so that is a great tool for kids still working on typing and writing skills.

    We are edging our way to her doing her own blog on a more regular basis as part of her homeschool, but she does take lots of videos and pictures along with drawing and keeping a real life diary and scrap book. When you often do not have free wifi on the move adds to the challenge. The key is keeping it simple and easy for a young child.

    She will be doing more as long as it works for our lifestyle!

    http://mozartsoultraveler.posterous.com/

  3. Do you know this blog? http://kzintoscana.blogspot.com/ Casey and his grandparents lived in Chianti for a year and are now back in southern California. He is a great writer.
    Have one of those Italian husbands go with you to Grotta dei Germogli in Calcata. Transportation info on their site http://www.grottadeigermogli.org. He makes brownies and lemon bars and pimento cheese!
    On your way back to France get off the train in Arezzo and come see us for a few days.

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