For most of us, the camera is the most essential part of the travel experience.  It's the one item you absolutely cannot forget to pack.  Often, we feel as though we need the camera to prove to others that we actually got up and left our homes.

So, what would happen if you decided to leave the camera in the closet and sifted around for some pens and paper instead?  What if, rather than cataloging your holiday on an SD card, you sketched it in a notebook?  That's just what many in the industry are advocating as an alternative to the digital craze.

August Heffner argues on Salon.com this week that you realize you are actually seeing the greatest photo opportunities in the world.  And, instead of digging through your pack to grab a camera, turn it on, and unconsciously freeze all the light in front of you into a small digital file only to be dumped onto your computer then Flickr page, you are actually, well, thinking about what's going on.

He goes on to claim that, while many have the same photo of famous landmarks, no two people could possible draw the same picture.

Artist Maira Kalman ran a popular illustrated column in the New York Times that chronicled her travels studying American democracy.  Titled, And the Pursuit of Happiness her column ran from January to December of 2009 and explored political history within the modern landscape of the US through cartoons and illustrations (as well as the occasional photo).

The BBC features Tim Baynes' Drawing on Experience segments on The Passport blog.   A specialist in travel drawings, Baynes wanders the world recording his impressions in Moleskine notebooks.  Each week, the blog offers a new sketch from his collection and you can find more on his Flickr account.

Sketching your travel isn't exactly a new idea.  It's a throwback more than anything else and a way for travelers to spend less time focused on a machine and more time focused on the experience.  Give it a try the next time you head out on a weekend getaway.  You won't capture every minute detail of the destination, but you might begin to see things in a new light.