Since a considerable amount of years, I have been traveling with one reliable companion: my camera. What's more, all the many trips I have taken, there was not one where I left my camera at home - and in almost all cases, I would also drag along a set of lenses. It has become unthinkable for me to travel without.
Sometimes, people ask me if I should not try to travel without a camera at least once. Just leave it home, and see what happens to your travel experience. Instead of constantly thinking about your pictures, you could finally focus on the traveling itself. It is like regaining freedom. Not feeling forced to take shots all the time, but actually see what you are seeing.
It sounds like a valid idea. Immerse yourself into the travel experience, and forget about the constant desire to take pictures. It sounds like a good idea. Good enough to try? Almost. But for me, it doesn't work this way. I will tell you why.
First of all, my camera more often than not has an added value while traveling. It can be a perfect vehicle to come in touch with people. It gives a valid reason to ask people what they think would be the best spot in their city to go and take pictures. But I find that asking people to have their picture taken, is the ultimate way to get in touch with them. It gives a reason to strike up a conversation, ask them about their life, tell them they look special, or beautiful, or interesting, and then - well, almost always - they are more than glad to have their picture taken. It helps that nowadays it is easy to show the result directly - although I have decided that lugging along a printer for immediate, Polaroid-like prints of the shots is just too much for me even though it is technically possible. More often than not, people get very excited by seeing their image on a small screen.