A week ago, I did a few interesting things. I (finally!) started work on a ‘history journal’ project that had been gifted to me three months ago. I was supposed to have given it a long time back but then life happened, priorities changed and the project got delayed. That’s the first interesting thing there, finishing that long-pending project.
The second exciting bit was attending a “solo female travellers meet” – here I met a bunch of interesting people, learned some lessons from more experienced solo travellers and answered questions of some planning to take the plunge. It was during the discussions here that someone raised the point of “clicking photographs to remember the trip” or “writing a travel diary” to remember the trip. The responses to these two queries differed – as they would. But what struck me was the thread tying this incident to the project mentioned above.
Although the history journal project has been on the back burner, it’s been on my mind as I’ve planned, thought, strategized and discarded several ideas. There was no shortage of things to write about, to chronicle. And therein was the trouble! I’m almost done with the project and as I sit back and take note, the realisation hits me that it is a travel journal similar to what I’m doing at From The Corner Table.
This article was first published on this blog on 17 December, 2018.
I’ve charted the history of my travel experiences and the way my blog has become a platform for sharing. I’m especially kicked about the blog because a few days ago, a much-loved human told me “You were with us almost every single moment.” The “us” here are this beloved human and his partner who were exploring Athens recently and had spoken to me at length about my experience in the city. A similar statement had popped up a while ago when I sent off my Scotland trip links to a friend heading there. The latter had just one question at the end of it all – “How do you remember everything!?”
To be honest – I don’t. Which is why I try to take as many photographs – which is again something I tend to forget since I’m too busy gawking – and jot down my thoughts and experiences in a notebook that travels with me. It’s a travel journal! Whether or not you should have a travel journal is a matter of personal choice but I must say I’ve realised there are some rather interesting ways in which I’ve seen myself (and others) using a travel journey. Perhaps these reasons, listed and explained, would help you take the decision?
I | Let’s get planning!
2019 is just two weeks away and you are probably already checking the new calendar to plan your holidays in the new year. This is where a travel diary could help. The one-stop point for you to jot down information, make lists of the places you want to visit to the food you want to eat and perhaps the ‘touristy’ things you would want to do, this book could be where you write it all. Carry it with you when you visit ‘the selected place’ – the diary has all the notes you’ve made and is perhaps safer than whisking out your phone every 10 minutes to check “where do I go next?”
For the traveller who likes his/her lists, this travel diary is a handy way to keep ticking off where you want to go. I have often found it helpful to show a local person the destination name written in the diary – the diary is a conversation starter and the person can guide me better with the written word vis-à-vis a botched up pronunciation!
II | Record those experiences
Before my first solo trip to Scotland, I’d been a tad bit paranoid and made a humongous list of “things to do” and “places to see”. I am proud to say that I managed to experience most of it and some more in that one glorious week. That diary with the lists and scribbles ran out of pages a few months later and was shoved to the back of the cupboard with my older journals. Whoever thought I would be digging it out a year later! This time, I was taking my parents to Scotland for 3 days. That diary with its scribbles of notes and experiences helped plan my parents’ trip in a much more organised manner. Bits about “hilly region”, “uphill walk”, “lunch at Haymarket/Grassmarket a must”, “hop on hop off the rock” were keys to my detailed write-ups about Scotland for the blog and the parents’ trip.
III | Your best friend!
As I was leafing through the diary, I read about several bits of experiences that had slipped my mind. For example, the heart-in-mouth experience when a homeless person on the side of the street in Edinburgh started following me; I’d managed to erase that fear lodged in my heart as I had run down the empty road to reach the hotel.
Or that rather creepily sweet moment when the innkeeper at Portree in the Isle of Skye went out of his way to stock up on cranachan for me. And then landed at the door of my room to inform me and keep me company!
There was also that time when a psychiatrist from Germany, a storekeeper from California and yours truly spent a solid 20 minutes sharing facts about our respective countries over the beer.
Such are the memories that you would write down in your travel journal at the end of the day, along with the ‘seen this’ and ‘done that’. For the travel blogger or writer, that information of seen-done is important but for the traveller, those instances are treasured memories to be revived through the words in the journal. After all, there are times when you need to immediately talk about that particular scene or rant over that horrible waitress who was mean to you. Who better than your travel journal!
IV | Healthy time pass
Waiting for the commute, transit time at airports, in the bus-train-plane or while chilling at that chic café, scribbling in my journal/reading/people watching are always preferred ways of passing time. I’d rather the writing than burrowing in my phone, what say? Your journal is your history keeper.
V | Make it a souvenir
This is something I’ve been meaning to work on for a while now but failed miserably. It’s about turning my travel journals into travel souvenirs. I’ve got bags filled with travel tickets, entry passes, information pamphlets, scribbled tissue papers that I’ve brought back from trips as souvenirs. The ideal method to preserve these would be to stick them into my travel journal to make it a complete souvenir. I hope you get around to doing it; I’m still procrastinating on that one.
VI | Things to remember
If you’ve decided to begin work on that travel journal, here’s what you might want to remember
- take a diary that is good looking and makes you want to open it; not an old ragged notebook
- take time to think about the size and weight of the book; no point in carrying a book that is too big or too heavy
- unless you are confident about writing straight lines on a blank page (I’m not!), opt for a lined book for a neater look
- to maintain it like a pro, carry a small box filled with: good pens with same colour inks + sketch pens if you want to doodle + some glue to immediately stick those souvenirs + a small bag to protect that book in case of wet regions