The trip that went to the dogs

by Steve Brock on May 2, 2012

Last time we looked at how having a quest or a theme for a trip or for a set of photos can add a great deal to the experience. Sometimes you start with the theme in mind. Other times, it just comes to you on the trip.

For example, on our trip to Peru last year, we hadn’t been out of the airport there for more than five minutes when we noticed the vast numbers of dogs running all around. My wife and son made a game to count all the dogs on our drive to the hotel, but they gave up after 300 – and that was within about 10 minutes.

So, here’s a small photo essay (click the photo to expand) on just a few of the dogs we encountered in Peru and an illustration of how what you discover along the way can become a theme all on its own.

Even if it means your trip ends up going to the dogs…



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How to photograph Machu Picchu

by Steve Brock on April 3, 2012

Around this same time last year, my family and I traveled to Peru. Before we left, I went online to find out details regarding taking pictures at Machu Picchu. What was the best time of day? What restrictions do they place on your camera, lenses or tripods? How big a bag can you carry with you? What filters, if any, were most useful? What angles or locations made for the best shots?

How do you find a new way of photographing someplace as iconic as Machu Picchu?

Answers to such questions (and many others) were hard to find, especially in one place. So to make it easier for anyone traveling to Machu Picchu who wants to get the best photographs possible, I’ve prepared this guide:

How to Photograph Machu Picchu

You can link to it directly above, or find it in the Tips and Tools section here on The Meaningful Traveler.

But wait! There’s more!

You may be thinking, “That’s great, but I have as much of a chance of getting to Machu Picchu as I do of spelling it correctly without help.” So you may assume this guide is as relevant to you as socks are to someone wearing flip-flops.

Not so.

This is actually a guide on how to take great travel photos anywhere. I just happen to use Machu Picchu as the example. So if you want to get better shots on your next trip, take a look.

Who knows? If you follow these tips for taking better travel photographs, you may find that your trip turns out to be – could it be? – even more meaningful. And if not, well, you’ll still have better images to show your friends…

So take a look and let me know what you think. If you have any tips for taking great travel pictures, share them as well.

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Rest and relaxation – Part 2

by Steve Brock on November 3, 2011

Last time we saw that I have this tendency to succumb to tourist panic, that condition that causes us (or at least me) to freak out on a trip, concerned I won’t see it all. I know it is stupid to feel this way, so why do I still do it?

When you plan your own days, you rarely plan on the small discoveries like this street in Cusco, Peru that blends Incan stonework (on the bottom right) with later Spanish buildings on top and on the left.

Peace of mind.

Or rather, the absence of it.

Many of us go on trips to relax. We hang around the pool or on the beach with a cold drink. Our only concerns relate to SPF and how to avoid poking our eye out with that little umbrella in the drink.

At least that’s the way we think it will be.

But no matter how relaxed we may be on the outside, without peace of mind, we just lie there, listening to the waves…and worrying about all those issues we thought we had left at home.

In my case in Cusco, Peru what got in the way of peace of mind was the fear of regret. I was concerned that if I didn’t see everything I could, I’d get home and regret what I missed.

But here’s the reality. I will always miss something. We all will. We can never see everything in a place no matter how long we’re there. So the very notion of trying to see it all is somewhat pointless.

What I ended up missing most that day wasn’t some museum or hidden find. It was piece of mind. And deep down, when I unpack all this, why did I lack piece of mind?

And you certainly don't plan on encountering the sheer joy of children getting out of school on this other Cusco street

Because I was, at that moment, traveling on my own. Sure, my family was with me, but I wasn’t putting their interests first. More importantly I wasn’t trusting that God could be part of that day on that trip. I’d prayed ahead of time for health, safety and to be open to what God would reveal. But on that day, I didn’t really trust that he was as interested in me having a good day as I was.

Why not? Is God a cosmic killjoy bent only on disciplining us when we fall short? Or do I believe – really believe – that he cares not just about my struggles but also about my joys? Clearly that day, I did not, or at least not enough to let it sink in to where I could rest in him and trust that he would work things out.

Virtually every time I find I’m missing peace of mind – on a trip or at home – it almost always relates back to this issue of trusting that God cares for me and for others, even more than we do ourselves.  I struggle almost every day to live out what I believe in my head and my heart.

But he knows this as well.

Which is why on trips like this one to Cusco, despite my best plans and worst obsessions and worries, God comes along and on a day packed with all the things I thought we should see, he reveals what we needed to see. For that afternoon, just as we began wondering what else to do, that’s when we unexpectedly discovered the luthier’s workshop and studio I wrote about earlier. It wasn’t on our itinerary. It wasn’t in our plans. But it was in God’s.

Peace of mind. It seems so elusive. But it – or rather He – is always closer than we think even when we’re thousands of miles away from home.

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Rest and relaxation – Part 1

by Steve Brock October 31, 2011

As I discovered in Cusco, Peru, we may pursue rest and relaxation on a trip but not achieve those because of something we brought along with us: Us.

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Meaningful travel & transactional relationships – Part 3

by Steve Brock June 8, 2011

The most meaningful aspect of transactional relationships is sometimes the transaction itself as we discovered by accident when buying a unique musical instrument in Peru.

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Meaningful travel & transactional relationships – Part 2

by Steve Brock June 3, 2011

Engaging at a deeper level the people who provide you services on a trip can help you see both their world and your own in a very different way.

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Meaningful travel & transactional relationships – Part 1

by Steve Brock May 31, 2011

On my recent trip to Peru, most of the people I met had some vested financial motivation to engage with me. But does that mean that those encounters are only transactional in nature? It all depends…

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