For a boy, I don’t think this is something we naturally, well, do. You won’t find any evidence of my inner thoughts and desires when I was learning where babies come from and what girls are. Nope. Not me. To me it flew in the face of (my perception of) masculinity and was strictly reserved for the opposite gender.
However, I am unbelievably grateful that I was impressionable enough that my best friend got me into creating a travel diary when I went on my first world trip back when the clock just ticked 20 years old. He was the very same person that convinced me to go on this life altering trip.
At this time I had a fair understanding of where babies came from and I definitely knew what girls were (read: still figuring them out).
My friend had been away for a couple of months already when I met up with him in Manila, Philippines. It was my first long distance trip for an extended period of time and it was back when methods of communication were confined to phone calls without our blessed WiFi that allows us to get in touch with anyone, anywhere, at anytime.
I love you Wifi ❤
Anyway, let’s just say that my Mum found out my friend couldn’t meet me at the airport as arranged, and through a whirlwind of phone calls to airport and airline personnel, there was a large sign and verbal message waiting for me in the Arrivals section of Manila International. Also booked was my transport to my hotel that wasn’t arranged before my departure. Great start to any conception of any self-reliance that I might have had before setting off.
So, self image shattered, I’m actually extremely relieved Mum was looking out for her son, as I soon found out that Manila is manic, filthy and sometimes dangerous to get around. And if you’re a green 20 year old with no idea where he is and where he needs to get to (remember no Wifi or Google Maps), it’s amazing when someone has your back and is willing to put up with long holds and suffer through language barriers.
But I digress…
Back to the point, I bought a diary for around the same price as a bottle of rum, which was lucky since the rum only set us back around $2 AUD. With my budget intact, I got to writing every day. That’s right, every damn day. What I did, where I went, who I was with, it all went in there.
Your memory is an interesting database. Memories aren’t static, they’re fluid, influenced by time and the feelings and emotions you attach to them. Just ask someone who was there with you 12 years ago while you were climbing cliffs in a martian landscape and I can guarantee you that the chronicle of events will diverge as much as they converge about what actually happened. Here I was thinking I acted with dignity and poise at the local beach club which we jumped the fence to enjoy.
No? Oh well. OK everybody time to watch me attempt a double front flip off the diving board!
Putting your thoughts and experiences on to paper as they happen is what anchors your reality and emotions to what is happening to you at that moment, rendering your memory impervious to the corrosive sands of time. I read back on all those words I wrote back then, and I can instantly feel the state of mind I was in, whether I was happy, sad or otherwise, and recollect people, places and experiences that had slipped away from my memory as time inevitably goes on.
I was sensible enough to include this battered diary on my second, and much larger world trip 4 years later. I made entries for around a year and I can’t emphasize how amazing, awkward, inspiring and embarrassing it is when you look back on what you were thinking and doing during a year of travel around the globe with friends new and old.
“Did I really do that?!?! Shit.” – Current self
There’s something about physically writing down phone numbers and contacts that you make during your travels. It feels like a more authentic (real? meaningful perhaps?) connection with the information you are storing. This is more than likely because I was late to the smartphone game during the bulk of my travel in my early to mid twenties. I’m on the bandwagon now, and when I created a new Facebook page for Traveletcetc recently, I was blown away at the number of contacts I had made from all my overseas adventures in the last 5 years. I’m even going to go as far as staggered (yeah, I said it!).
Now that laptops are micro thin and their weight is fast becoming negligible (let’s see how flights through the USA pan out), this is probably going to be your go to medium for taking notes, journaling, storing all those wonderful travel pictures and generally be your weapon of choice to take to a coffee shop as you people watch while simultaneously capturing your thoughts to include in your memoirs.
So, find that perfect notebook (electronic or paper) and put those experiences into words. This is your time capsule, and reader beware, because when you look back on this 10 years from now, you’ll be amazed by what you have captured and you will have an outside view into what sort of person you really were.
Thanks for reading this far! I’m sure it wasn’t too much of a slog.
What’s your preferred style of note taking while on trips? Have you started a journal yet? Is it even something you’re interested in. Even if it isn’t, try it out, it can get addictive very quickly.
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