Ever since I was a child, I have always been a collector of memories, possibly because my own memory has never been that good! For some reason, I thought that if I didn’t write it down, or keep it in a box, the memory would escape me and be gone forever. I kept a journal from the age of nine and wrote in it religiously. This continued into my teens and adult years and proved to be a wonderful way to record my travels, as I started to explore the rest of the world. But over time, my habits have evolved and, aside from journalling, I have discovered a huge variety of ways to keep that snapshot in your head. Variety is the spice of life, so take a look at some of these techniques and see if any appeal to you:
1. Keep a journal
I have to put this one at the top, as it is the original and still a favourite way to record my travels. The best thing about keeping a handwritten journal is that you can sit in one place and really observe all the little details, whilst writing or drawing about it. Stick in the menu, the brochure, the ticket, the stickers. It’s a real treasure trove to look back on. But the process is the most important thing – give yourself time to write about your experiences and, especially, don’t make it into a chore. It doesn’t need to be written every day – just when you feel a moment deserves recording.
2. Write a song
I spent a lot of time in the last few years writing and performing songs all over Australia. I haven’t made it to the big time yet, but in so many ways, writing songs has been such an important part of my travels. When you are exploring, you are more likely to be inspired with life-changing, song-worthy moments – it is a therapeutic process. And, the best thing? When you play back the song in a few years time, it will take you straight back to that place in time.
3. Keep a scrapbook
If you’re not big on writing, you can still be a bower bird and collect clippings, newspaper articles, tickets, brochures, stickers and all sorts of things from your travels. Better still, take a leaf rubbing, draw some pictures, add some material samples of ethnic clothing. All these items will help trigger memories of your travels and remind you of the places you have been.
4. Draw a picture journal
I started a picture journal on our recent van travels up the east coast of Australia. My Mum made us a cute homemade journal with a picture of Australia on the front! I wasn’t sure what we would do with it – write in it, draw or stick things…in the end, it is a mixture of all three, but largely drawings. It’s good fun to do (usually I draw in it each Sunday, showing all the things we did in the week) and looking back, it captures a wonderful image of our trip. There are no rules and don’t be a perfectionist – if you make a mistake, just stick something over it, or make it into a new drawing!
5. Take a polaroid camera and album
My sister was kind enough to give us her polaroid camera before we set off up the East coast of Australia and we loved it! In each place, we took a snapshot. It was lots of fun discovering new angles. Sometimes they worked, other times they were over exposed, but every photo was a memory. We stuck them around our van for a while, until we found a cute travel album in the Blue Mountains.
6. Mark your journey on a map
Perhaps one of the oldest forms of recording adventures, maps are a great way of marking where you’ve been. Make sure you include all the side roads, island and cities you visited. Mark it in pen, stick a flag into each destination or put it on a pin board. Why not try drawing your own map like the old explorers?! Maps are always a great way to remember your exact path.
7. Take photographs
Of course, we can’t ignore the camera! Where would we be without it? Images are such a huge part of life these days, it would be silly not to take a camera. Take photos of the big things and the little things. Just make sure you’re not so glued to the screen that you miss the elephant walking beside you! Post your photos to Instagram, Facebook or your blog and you will have memories to last you forever. You might even like to get some good quality pics printed on canvas to hang up on your wall.
8. Collect Postcards
When I travelled around Europe in 2012, I collected post cards from nearly every place I went. I posted a few to friends and family too, but largely, I collected them for the pictures. When I got home, I wondered what I would do with this huge stack! There was no use keeping them in a box, so I ended up making them into three large poster collages and laminating them. They are always great decorations for the house and bring back memories every time I look at them. They are also a great source of memories and inspiration for visitors!
9. Keep a travel blog
This has been a new favourite method of recording my travels. It is wonderful to have my writing and photos all in one spot. Easy to categorise and interactive, it’s such a good way to keep friends and family up to date with where you’re going and what you’re doing. Also, they won’t have to trawl through thousands of photos on your return, as they are up-to-date with every post. Not only this, keeping a travel blog is a great way to connect to like-minded travellers and a fantastic way of getting inspiration from others. Thanks WordPress!
10. Take videos
Some people are really into Vlogging and have creating some wonderful travel videos. I like to take the odd video, capturing particular moving images or sounds, though I’m yet to experiment putting all these clips together!
11. Write notes on your phone
A moment, a memory, a feeling. Write it down on your notes. Even if you’re not into writing, sometimes jotting down a quick observation is all you need to trigger the memory. I quite often jot down ideas when I’m on the road. Later, in the hostel, or in a cafe, I take out my journal and expand the memory.
12. Shop for souvenirs
You don’t have to go to the typical tourist souvenir shops to bring back memories – some of my favourite souvenirs have been wearable, such as hippy pants from Thailand, a pashmina from Cambodia and an fancy pair of Italian heels, which I have never worn to this day, because they are too precious! Other great souvenirs are ones you help create – I remember making a placemat in a weaving course in Laos, which I intend to hang up on my wall one day, when I eventually settle down! Pick your souvenirs carefully, because they are going to be taking up valuable luggage space!
13. Pre- and post- travel research
Found a place you’re interested in learning more about? Research it before you go and find out more later. Write it down. Soak it in. Learn about the history of the place and who walked there before you. It will create richer memories. Before I travelled Europe, I remember making a timeline on my computer of the history of England! I spent hours online researching all the different kings and queens, the battles and significant events. I thought this would help me connect more with places when I arrived and it certainly did the trick. Who knew Hampton Court Palace housed so many of King Henry VIII’s wives?!
14. Listen to a song whilst on the road
If you’re not much of a song writer, listening to songs is equally as powerful in recording memories. Creating sound/image connections with a new place will be a great trigger for your memory when you are back at home. Listen to a favourite song when you’re on a rickety bus through Laos – chances are, when you return home and listen to that same song, images of pot holes, winding roads and beautiful scenery will flash before your eyes.
15. Take a mental snapshot
Whether it’s taking a moment to meditate on the top of a mountain or just really being present for a minute of time, just stop, take a snapshot in your mind and make it into a memory. Try to block out the distractions around you. Listen to the natural sounds of the places, feel the rhythm, smell the scents, see the colours and shapes, touch the materials. Create sensory memories and you will be thankful later.
How do you record your memories when you’re on an adventure? I would love to try some new ideas. Happy travelling!