There are so many ways to remember a travel experience. For one, there’s social media. It’s such a huge part of everyone’s daily lives now, it’s almost impossible to move around without it. Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, they all hold pieces of what’s happening in our lives including mundane activities like drinking coffee or eating a good meal.
Another way, of course, is through blogging which is my primary means of recording my travel experiences. A lot of people turn to blogs to read first-hand experiences of destinations in which they are interested. Unlike social media which is more immediate, blogging requires more preparation before articles can be posted.
But what these things have in common is that it’s mostly about documenting a travel experience for the sake of other people. It’s more about posting for others to see. Though it’s still a way of documenting and having something to look back on, sometimes blog posts aren’t substantial enough to provide all the personal recollections that made a particular trip so enjoyable.
For a more intimate way to keep track of your experiences when you explore the world, try keeping a simple travel journal. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but make sure it will fit into an outside pocket of your hand-carry bag so it is easily accessible whenever you are travelling. If you don’t already have a suitable bag, you can easily check out what’s available online by looking through the catalogues of retailers like Luggage Direct. A bag with two pockets is even better, because you can use the second pocket to store items that you may want to paste into your travel journal later.
Here are 6 ways you can add to your journal as you travel:
Note the preparations
To be organized for any sort of travel, it’s a good idea to prepare a simple packing list. Take some time in the weeks before you travel to note down what you have to bring. This will prevent you from forgetting important items like device chargers, undergarments, or special clothes that you may need for a particular trip. Then paste the packing list into the travel journal and note during the course of the trip whether there was anything else that you needed to bring (or just as important, anything you found that you didn’t need).
Also note other things that you needed to do before the trip (like reconfirming hotel reservations or booking a transfer to the airport). Then after doing that on one trip, you will have a packing list and checklist of your travel preparations that you can use for future trips. You may have to make some changes if you are traveling to a different climate, or doing a beach trip instead of a hiking trip, but it’s easy to edit packing lists and checklists that have already been tested on previous trips.
Print out photos or illustrate
Though journaling is a more traditional method, picture-taking is still an ultimate necessity. Photos are needed to capture the beauty of a place you’re visiting for the first time or a new perspective of a location you’ve been to before. Whilst many people leave their trip photos on PCs or laptops, it’s advisable to print out at least a few of your photos to remind you of the highlights of a trip. That way should anything happen to the digital copies of your photos in the future, you will still have some prints to look at in your journal.
Of course, if you have the skill for it, you might want to illustrate the places you go to by sketching as well. Or buy a couple of postcards of those places where your own photos didn’t come out as well as expected (maybe it was a rainy day?). Don’t forget to write down a short description to remind your future self why, at one point in time, that certain place was memorable for you.
Collect receipts or other ephemera
Other than photos, there are other things you can paste into your journal to remind you of the places you visit. Receipts, terminal tickets, airline boarding passes, logos from tissues of unique restaurants or coffee shops you’ve been to, and many other random items can serve as ephemera. It may not mean anything grand at that moment, but when you look back at your journal years later, these small remembrances can give you a strong wave of bittersweet nostalgia.
Note what you eat and drink
One of the things that can instantly remind you of a specific place is an enjoyable gastronomic experience. When you try local cuisines, or even not-so-local ones, and they made an impact on your trip, note it down in your journal. How did it taste? How much was it? What made it memorable? To add more to it, take a snapshot or try to doodle it. Someday, looking back at your travel journal will not only remind you of scenic spots and special moments, it will also tickle your sense of taste through simple descriptions of the meals you enjoyed.
Create a daily travel log
Not good with words? Illustrating or taking photos aren’t your thing? That’s okay. You can adopt a very simple method of creating a daily log of your travels. No fancy methods involved here, just good old pen and paper. In your journal, simply note down the date and document your day with bullet points. You can include significant moments of that day or just jot down more mundane things like, “enjoyed the great scenery today.” Don’t underestimate the power of these simple jottings because, someday, they’ll be enough to take you back on your travel journey.
Briefly summarize your trip
On your last night or perhaps a few hours before departing, take some time to briefly summarize your trip in such a way that perhaps photos or other ephemera can’t. Note down the feelings you felt or realizations you had. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but jotting down just a few internal things about your trip will give you a sense of fulfilment for another successful adventure.
The digital world makes travel so much easier than it used to be, but taking along a journal and a few pens will enable you to create your own time capsule. One day, your future self will be grateful that you did.
This is a collaborative post.