Easting.org explores people and places around the world while emphasizing history, politics, and the art of travel. The site is my small effort to feed the eyes and stretch the mind through photos and stories from my trips around the world.
The title of this site stems from my views on travel, which have changed a bit over the years. Usually we think of travel as an activity: it’s a verb, or a way to get places. Simple. But travel writers often challenge us to think about it differently–often as an experience, a transformation, or even as a spiritual journey of sorts. I think this is helpful. Travel can also be seen as something like what economists call a “consumption good,” or the everyday things we buy and use. We consume travel the way be consume food or clothes. And these days many of us try to simplify what we consume. I certainly do, and I want to apply that idea to the way I travel.
A while back, when backpacking was starting to feel a little stale, I decided that on my next trip I’d forgo working out the details and just “go east” (I was in Europe, so east was easiest). I chose Point A and Point B and set out getting from one to the other. The basic idea wasn’t much more complex than the old adage, “it’s the journey, not the destination,” but Easting actually helped me simplify travel and focus on what mattered.
While I’m on the topic of Really Deep Stuff, I should mention that there is sort of a point to Easting.org beyond just posting photos and stories. On the one hand, I enjoy travel as the classic “escape.” I can indulge in the things I love without thinking about life, career, or relationships. But on the other hand, the values that drive my career are also something I want to live each day, and those values involve confronting inequality, answering scarcity with abundance, and giving art to function. To that end, I sometimes try to get under the skin of a place and understand the struggles of the people there (locals and foreigners). So although travel is a leisure activity for me, I try to add a little art and substance. This is partly because I find it interesting and partly because it seems like the right thing to do.
Photography is not my forte. I travel light, and for me this means unburdening myself of as many objects as possible–including cameras. On each trip, I pack a little bit less than the one before. So as much as I’d like to carry the camera and lenses necessary to take great photos, instead I take a small, basic point-and-shoot camera. In the past I’ve used a low-end DSLR or Canon Powershot, and at the moment I use a Canon G12.
Lastly, I try to stick to the great old tradition of the overland travel. There’s definitely a resurgence in “overlanding” among backpackers in recent years, and I’m all for that. Don’t get me wrong, I love long flights (eight hours of snacks and the latest Marvel action movie–yes please), but what I love even more is seeing the places in-between. I’m content to fly over oceans, but when possible I prefer to trains, cars, and boats. These offer a sense of the distance and relationship between people and places. I travel this way because that’s how history, culture, and people have traveled for thousands of years, and that’s the stuff I want to understand. Plus, as everyone knows, sometimes the best part of a trip is the unexpected detour along the way, and that’s easier on land than in a plane.
Anyway, enjoy the stories and photos, and let me know your thoughts. I’ll also be posting occasional shorter blog entries and travel news that I find interesting. Email email@example.com if there’s something you’d like to hear more about, and thanks for reading. -JK
1. The easterly component of the distance traveled between two positions.
2. Progress toward the east.
1. To (go) east. The act or process of going east.