Luke Pearsall is professional photographer with many years of experience in film industry. When leading tours across South America he caught a travel bug and since then he always feels the urge to travel. His travel work and travel writing is driven by a desire to share the world through travel, photography, video and authentic experiences in hopes to inspire others to see new things, explore more and live a life less ordinary.
There are a few things I really value about traveling. I think that traveling not only broadens your horizons but it also makes you a lot more aware of what you are capable of. I mean this in terms of how capable you are at making difficult decisions, problem solving in tricky scenarios and just simply being brave in moments that might feel out of your comfort zone. Of course there is the seeing new places and standing in places where history occurred which is always pretty incredible to think of but above almost all else are two things, I love making new friends while traveling, especially ones from other countries and I love trying new food in new places.
There is really very little that I loathe about travel at all. I spent almost an entire year of my life working as a guide in South America and really didn’t get tired of it all. I guess maybe if there was one thing in particular for me that is sort of a catch 22 of being a photographer it’s that I always have to be very aware of my equipment and keeping it with me at all times. It's a ball and chain sometimes but that same ball in chain is what gives me many opportunities to travel and is a profession that I am truly in love with.
If I don’t travel for say a month. Even if it's just a mini trip somewhere 4 hours away I really do start to get the itch to travel. In my own state of Colorado where I have lived for almost 2 years now there is innumerable adventures to be had and I’m just now starting to check many of the places I’ve wanted to see off the list.
Honestly for this one there are two. One was the time I spent working as a guide in South America leading tours from Ecuador to Chile through Peru and Bolivia. The other was the 550 mile hike on the Camino de Santiago crossing from France all the way across Northern Spain.
One of the most valuable things I learned while traveling is to talk to people. The greatest adventures I’ve had have been with people who were complete strangers until I chatted with them about what they were doing and where they were headed. I think it’s important to be very organized when you are traveling and travel with as little as possible. The more efficient you are able to move yourself and your stuff the happier your trip will be. I think also it’s extremely important to be open minded and remember that you are visitor in someone else homeland (even if its in nature) so respect it and don’t turn yourself in to a tourist or traveler that gives a bad name to the place you are from. Also, if you do go out and have a good time, don’t ever take it to a place where you are too intoxicated to find your way home or make yourself a target for theft because a drunk tourist is an easy target.
I think the list of mishaps could go on forever because they ALWAYS happen no matter how planned out you think you are. Most of the time these mishaps involve transportation when you miss critical flights, buses, trains or boats. The most valuable thing you have while traveling is time if you ask me. We have such limited time off in our busy lives that to be delayed on a vacation or journey for several hours or a day becomes a critical blow to the success of a really great trip.
One particular story that is a wild one is from my time working as a guide. I had a group of about 21 passengers and we were crossing the border from Bolivia in to Peru. Seeing as all the passengers are adults and were given instructions on how to exit Bolivia and enter Peru I went through the process and all the passengers stamped out of Bolivia walked 100 yards down a road and entered Peru by getting their passports stamped there. Well two hours down the road on our next bus ride two of my passengers came up to me and said “Hey did we have to get our passports stamped in to Peru?” At that point it dawned on me that I was basically in charge of two illegal immigrants in Peru. Not exactly a fun situation to be in, the following day I had to sort out all the many details with their home country’s embassy in a small town near Lake Titicaca and find a notary to confirm their legal status all while I sent the rest of my group ahead on a tour of the lake. I ended up having to hire a private boat to load us up and catch up with my group hours down the line. One of the most stressful situations I had to deal with in my time down there but it was eventually resolved. I could tell stories forever. Maybe in another interview I’ll tell you about how a Bolivian Mine started to collapse while we were in it. That was a doozy.
I know how to travel very very light. I don’t need much. In fact, I spent two whole months in Europe with two shirts, one pair of shorts, on pair of convertible pants, a thing fleece, two underwear, two socks and a rain jacket. I never felt once like I was missing any critical piece of clothing. Oh yeah I had some flip flops too. No one likes a shower without some protection. To answer you question in today's travel world I would say the most critical piece of travel kit is actually a smartphone. It can be a video recording device, a camera, a bank, a way to communicate back home cheaply if not free, but most importantly it is your best asset as a navigator helping you navigate public transportation which can be tricky sometimes. I know that probably sounds crazy but a smartphone is the new age swiss army knife, it has everything you need in the palm of your hands.
Having read all this one will definitely will be more informed about certain situations when travelling and the importance of timing and having as little as possible in your backpack. Most importantly, don’t forget your smartphone.