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An archive and repository of travel [travel writing and photography] notes, tips, articles and references.

The Jazz of [Solo] Travel

A year ago I came across Daisann McLane’s article, The Jazz of Travel, in the January/February 2012 issue of the National Geographic Traveler. She wrote about the decisions and choices we inevitably make when we travel and along with it the improvisations. She likened a great trip to a jazz solo where unexpected choices renders much to the rhythms of one’s travels.

McLane’s article resonates well with how I plan my trips to the last detail – even blocking off ‘room’ in the schedule for ‘resilience’ in anticipation of when things don’t go as scheduled or intended. Though I doubt that I’ll have it in me to make radical diversions from what I’ve planned when faced with choices – particularly big choices, I’d like to think that the little choices, changes to travel plans and decisions I’ve had to make while on these travels have somewhat transformed my experience.

École Militaire,  Paris Métro

Excerpts from McLaine’s article:

“… a truly great trip is like a terrific jazz solo. Jazz musicians weave magic by making unexpected, playful choices in real time. And on a good trip, when my travel rhythms are “cooking,” I’m improvising too.

Traveling, when you think about it, is based on a series of decisions. Most of the major ones get settled before we leave home—where to go, how long we will stay, what our budget is, and so on. That’s our structure. But once we’re actually in a place, we make a never ending series of little choices that transform our experience. At the end of the boulevard, we may turn right or left. We may speak, or not speak, to that interesting-looking stranger. We can sit down at that little café or pass it by and try the next one around the block. Trip planning is the rehearsal, travel the performance. Every small choice that we make on the road changes our travel melody, shapes it into a song that is ours, and ours alone.

This all happens in a split second. Life, like music, doesn’t pause while you plan your solo. It can be scary to improvise our own travel riffs. There always is some risk, from the trivial (ending up in a boring or unpleasant place) to the serious (getting into an unsafe situation).

Practice makes perfect—and the more you play the jazz of travel, the better you become at it.”

How do you cope when faced with improvising your travel plans, when those ‘travel rhythms’ are unexpectedly interrupted?


One comment on “The Jazz of [Solo] Travel

  1. frugalfirstclasstravel
    11 February 2013

    I hate jazz but this is great and really rings true! Thanks for posting

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This entry was posted on 10 February 2013 by in On Travel, Travel Ideas, Travel Tips and tagged , , , .
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