Posted by: crustynomad | February 11, 2008

How to make your travels more memorable

Any journey can be made more memorable purely by capturing the moment and grasping it as soon as you can. How do we do this? Well, the obvious is to take a photograph or bit of video but this a very simplistic way of looking at it.

When you look at an image in a newspaper or book more often than not they will be accompanied by some form of descriptive message to highlight what is going on before you. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and this is true but if you can get down details of your feelings at the time as well it can really bring the picture and memory back to life later.

What I do is keep a notebook with me and write down what I see and do. Nothing too elaborate but enough to keep the events with me. On more than one occasion an overheard conversation, for instance, has inspired an idea for an article or script. If you analyze overheard conversations you are taking a snapshot of the lives of two strangers. They have a back story and no doubt a future, unless it’s a particularly heated argument, but as a listener you can make them both up. You can speculate on the outcome and create a whole new life for them. This is your chance to play god.

Now all this doesn’t sound particularly relevant as regards to your own personal experiences but remember these are the exchanges and events you usually forget. By taking a record of the little things, whatever they happen to be, you are filling the gaps and that importantly makes it easier to link the individual memories together.

Physical writing with a pen is a skill that is rapidly being lost as we each live ever more busy lives and spend an inordinate amount of time in front of computer screens. Please do try and keep it alive – keep a notebook or diary but if that seems too much like hard work and you can’t stay away from your PC, try writing an on-line blog instead.

Both these methods have a place in keeping the events fresh in the mind but it very much depends how public you want to make your thoughts. An ever increasing number of people keep family and friends up to date with what is happening on their trips with blogs and it can be a convenient way of doing it. Internet access is becoming more widely available every year and you can even upload your photographs and post them on-line within seconds of an event happening.

If you are more private person this may not be for you. Personally I like the idea of opening the diary of my travels and a scribbled note or photograph fall out. I would write an occasional poem to reflect my emotional state at the time and this is so important if you want to add color and depth to a memory. What’s more, what a great keepsake for the children after you’ve gone.

At the end of the day, a photograph is just a snapshot in time but what happened before or after it was taken? Had you just been to restaurant with friends and if so what happened there? Was the meal terrible? Did you flirt with the staff? Did the weather turn nasty after you left? What happened on the journey home?

The mind stores everything away but it doesn’t always make the keys easily accessible to allow you to retrieve those memories. By writing them down you are creating little mind triggers and once you recall one event, the others will swiftly follow.

The ultimate way to save memories is to create a scrapbook which combines everything from photographs, notes, poems, hotel or tourist attraction literature or whatever else happened to be around. Like I said, it’s the things that seem inconsequential at the time that make a trip worthwhile. We can all remember the big stuff but it’s the rest that brings it all to life.

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