Daily Archives: June 8, 2012

Travel with a Geographic Perspective

Like many of you, we on the Esri education team spend a lot of time on airplanes. I’ve been intrigued by the geographic themes in travel columns appearing inside in-flight magazines. I find myself wondering what the columns would look like from the perspective of a geographer. For example, the long-running column in the United Hemispheres in-flight magazine is entitled Three Perfect Days. What would a geographer consider to be three perfect days in Singapore, in New York City, in Malta? Would your choices on how to spend those three days as a geospatial educator be the same as those chosen by the travel column writers?

I suspect that there are some key differences. The general public may not be interested some topics that have traditionally intrigued geographers, such as the structure and form of barns, the spread of invasive weeds, or evidence of neighborhood change. On the other hand, we do share with authors of these columns that we aren’t content merely to study a place virtually—we want to visit it. Perhaps you prefer a mixture of “touristy” and “non-touristy” stops. Perhaps you include places of historical or cultural significance as well as places significant in terms of physical geography. Perhaps you visit a local geocache as a good excuse to see an out of the way place?

I don’t frequent the expensive restaurants and hotels mentioned in most travel columns, and those who know me know that I don’t even seek out local food. What I almost always do first is to seek a high place with a view. This sets the tone for my visit and gives me a literal overview that supplements the virtual overview done beforehand in my office using GIS. In New York City during the AAG annual meeting this year, I bicycled to the George Washington Bridge over the Hudson River for a spectacular vista. Another high favorite was atop one of the small volcanoes around Auckland, New Zealand, before teaching GIS there. I am also a big fan of wandering through ordinary neighborhoods, parks, and commercial and industrial districts. I always get out of the city to see at least some of the surrounding terrain if time allows. Before and during a trip, I make use of GIS and GPS technologies. I use the ArcGIS Online app on my cell phone. The historical walking trail in Malta is one of hundreds of new local landmark maps that appear weekly in ArcGIS Online.

What would you consider to be “three perfect days” in the destination of your choice? What is one of your travels that you could showcase in ArcGIS Online?

- Joseph Kerski, Esri Education Manager

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