Friday, 19 February 2016

The Amazing Race 28, Episode 2

Ciudad México, D.F. (Mexico) - Cartagena (Colombia)

This episode of The Amazing Race 28 began with host Phil Keoghan teasing Youtuber Blair and her father Dr. Scott about his carrying a curling iron and blow dryer for her on their reality-TV race around the world.

It's easy to laugh at this pair: "You're in a race, and you're carrying what?"  But don't be so quick to jeer. There's more going on here than may be obvious at first glance -- and, as is often the case on The Amazing Race (notwithstanding my comments last week), more travel reality than one might expect of a TV show.

Blair is a producer/director/on-camera talent in fashion and makeup tutorial videos.  The curling iron and blow dryer are among the tools of her trade.  When you're a self-employed freelancer, you can't usually afford to stop working for the duration whenever you travel. Whatever else you bring on any partiuclar trip, you start with the professional tools that you know you always have to have with you to be able to work.

Some people who don't know I'm a freelance writer probably laugh at me if they discover that even when I'm travelling by bicycle, I have a laptop computer (a ruggedized Panasonic Toughbook) in one of my panniers that with its power supply and accesories weighs about 2 pounds (0.9 kg). Wouldn't a tablet or even smartphone be sufficient for my travel needs?  It would... if I weren't trying to type or edit lengthy, complex articles.

Blair isn't working on her usual videos during The Amazing Race. The cast members aren't allowed to bring cameras or post anything on the Internet while the show is being filmed, which typically take a little more than a month.  (She did post a video filmed in her usual instructional style before the race that shows everything she had in her luggage at sthe start of the race. It's food for thought even if you might make different choices, and even knowing that like most of the racers she abandoned or gave away much of what she started the race with.) 

But habits die hard, including travel habits. When we don't have our usual spaces and places to give us our sense of being at home, we sometimes rely even more for continuity and psychological comfort on habits of activity and ways of doing things. It's especially difficult for frequent and experienced travellers -- the sort of people who are always packed and ready to go on a momemts notice, or who live on the road a large fraction of their time -- to realize that not all trips are the same, in packing as in other aspects of what skills and gear they require, and that they may need to pack very differently for a trip around the world, race or no race, than for the kinds of business or vacation trips to which they are accustomed. One reason I pack slowly and am typically only about a third ready-packed, if that, is that I travel differently, with different luggage and different things in it, when I am travelling for different purposes.  Am I going someplace well-paved and smooth, where I will want wheeled luggage and/or will always have motorized conveyances? Or will I need to be carrying my luggage on my back through cobblestone streets or along dirt roads? Do I need a suit and tie (or several) for formal meetings or events, or will casual clothing suffice? Will I be travelling at my own pace, and have time to wash my clothes, or do I need to carry a clean shirt for each day of a conference that will keep me on the run from dawn to midnight each day? Often I can get by with substantially less luggage for a months-long trip than for a tightly scheduled as well as more formal week of business or government meetings or public appearances.

The difficulty that habitual travellers who travel often, but always in the same manner, sometimes have in adjusting to the demands of a different sort of journey such as a trip around the world is reflected in the strikingly poor performance of flight attendants in The Amazing Race over the years.  As both travel industry professionals (in a race in which knowledge of airline routes has often been decisive) and professional travellers, they have come into the race with great confidence about their preparation and skills. But this is the third season of 28 in which one or both members of the first team eliminated have been flight attendants: Deidre with her daughter Hillary in Season 2, both Bill and Ron in Season 19, and now Marty with her daughter Hagan in this episode of Season 28. No other occupation has a worse record in the race.

Next week, we'll see more of why The Amazing Race has gone to Colombia for the first time, and why more real-world travellers are doing so.

Link | Posted by Edward on Friday, 19 February 2016, 23:59 (11:59 PM) | TrackBack (0)
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