The One Thing All Travellers Will Forget…

…and my Top 3 Travel Tips
to be sure you will remember!

Passport Check Tickets Check


“Passport?” – CHECK



And you’re off

Leaving on a jet plane

For months you’ve been dreaming of…
  • faraway places and luring landscapes
  • sparkling sunshine and gentle breezes
  • escaping to a world a million miles away
For weeks you’ve been researching top travel tips and planning on…
  • where to stay
  • what to see and do
  • who to fly with and
  • how to optimally pack the perfect wardrobe
At last, you’re experiencing your travelling dream…
  • viewing magical vistas and iconic features
  • your senses buzzing with fresh smells, soft sounds and the tantalizing tastes of local cuisines
  • you feel that long anticipated sensation of being ALIVE

before you know it, you’re back in a taxi pulling up outside your front gate.

And you're home

In the pouring rain you pile out onto the glistening pavement and haul your bag back up the garden path to the front door where you fumble for familiar keys, and the door slams behind you.

The after-holiday blues starts to seep through you –
Have you even been away?

Have you forgotten something?

I often think how funny it is that we spend so long dreaming, planning and finally experiencing we focus little attention on the longest lasting part of the trip – potentially the rest of your life – on the travel memories.

I’m sure when you return to work on the Monday you’ll manage to recount many a funny tale to entertain and share with your colleagues –
But in a couple of years those tales will start to go a little grey and fuzzy around the edges –
And in 5 years? Where was it you went?!


Memories fade

It is a fact –
Memories fade.
And sadly, if some form of action isn’t taken, it is the one thing all travellers will ultimately forget.

But, who wants to give up precious holiday time to do something that has no dopamine hit in sight for another how ever many years?

Let me share a quick story –
Just the other day I purposefully went to my bookshelf when my hand fell upon something quite different and I came away with…

Some doodley scribbles from my time in Canada…

Ziplining and Skiing doodlesAs I pulled out the concertina pages, it was such a blast to be suddenly ziplining my way through the snowy Canadian pine forests and skiing the Whistler-Blackcomb slopes from the top of 7th Heaven ski lift – I have to say playing with a few coloured pencils at odd moments while I was away was really not that much of a hardship, and well – my first dopamine hit had just kicked in!

I think sadly, many people feel the only way to record a trip is writing in a traditional travel journal – where like homework, you shut yourself away each night to get it done –

This is not my way of doing things –
And hopefully after reading this, neither will it be yours.

My Top 3 Travel Tips for Remembering your Trip… Forever

1. Start

As Woody Allen said – “Eighty percent of success is showing up” – so as soon as possible after leaving home – once through airport security is ideal – break the ice and make your first mark.

Do not have any high-falutin aspirations, which could either deter you from showing up at all, or set the bar too high making you feel you can’t keep it up.
Buy yourself a drink, and as you relax back in your seat to take in your first taste of holidays, use the bottom of your beverage of choice to make a coffee ring, a wine stain, whatever – to mark the page of your travel notebook.

Hey Presto – Your adventure has begun and your first holiday memory has been recorded.

This may even set the trend – a holiday recounted in a trail of beverage marks taken at the bevy of cafés and bars frequented along the way.

Waste no time in making your first mark

2. Don’t only rely on photos…

There is interesting evidence that indicates that blindly snapping away and relying on your camera to record the sights makes you remember less of that scene – Convinced you have safely secured the shot for posterity, your brain fails to be fully present in the moment and you miss out on making that all important emotional connection.

I can vouch for this scenario from my trip to Venice where over every bridge and down every alley there was such a mouth-wateringly beautiful vista I was compelled to try and capture every little bit to take home with me –
The reality being, I now couldn’t tell you where any one of those images was actually taken, nor how I truly felt when standing in the scene before it –

Venice Memories

However, the little doodle I made shortly after buying a bag of hot chestnuts in the street market (top right image) carries me instantly back to that moment in time and triggers my brain to recreate the entire scene –

But photos are so easy, I hear you say and if not photos, what then?

We all have different ways of taking in our world and expressing it, but it has been proven that text in conjunction with diagrams is the most effective way for conveying information –

Be a rebel and consider throwing your school learnt ways out of the window and have a go at story-mapping.

Anyone – even a 4 year old – can draw a stick-man so using this shorthand notation of pictograms, along with a few written details, plus the odd quirky receipt reflecting the local lingo (as well giving you the name of the café and the date) ~
What better way to get your grey matter sparking and those cherished memories highlighted… forever.

Story map pictogram diagram

3. Stop – It’s all in the detail

Have you ever re-discovered a pressed flower in a book, which the moment it’s touched transposes you back in full technicolour glory, to that meadow where it was picked?
There were no words with it, no lengthy descriptions, no photographs – Just a single tactile object re-connecting you to a moment in time otherwise forgotten.

Quote Paverse We Remember Moments

It is not the big picture descriptions that create the best memory joggers, but rather the details you’ve focussed on within the frame.

On my last holiday to Scotland, I was coming from Australia where most trees are eucalypts, which remain covered in silvery green leaves all year round – I was therefore totally captivated by the variety of woodland trees there.

Its all in the detail

Rather than record my walks through the woods in general terms I focused on details that caught my eye – Such as the lichen growing on bare wintry branches, the first of the catkins struggling against the cold hoping for spring, and the last remaining rusty red autumn leaves hanging on to sculptural ancient oak trees.
It is from these vignettes that the whole picture comes vividly back to life.

While my first tip stressed the importance to start, my third tip is stressing the importance that you stop (at least once each day) to be truly present in the moment while you soak up and consciously connect to the smallest of details in your foreign surrounds.

Emotional connections are the best of memory joggers.

Experience has taught me that memories fade quote


So on your next trip be sure you are not one of the travellers who will forget:

  1. Start (80% of success is turning up)
  2. Don’t only rely on photos (try a Story Map)
  3. Stop (It’s all in the detail )

How do you ensure you remember the highlights of your holiday?

Do share in the comments below 🙂

58 thoughts on “The One Thing All Travellers Will Forget…

  1. Beautiful Linda. I love how you collate all the 5 senses into your travel memories. How evocative would the smell of roasting chestnuts be, and yet how hard to tell with a photo. Your gorgeous travel doodles (so much more than doodles) are like memory boxes stuffed full of sensory impact.

    • Thank you for your lovely comment Jo!
      And such a perfect addition to the post to suggest that mere travelling doodles can become “memory boxes stuffed full of sensory impact.”
      I hope everyone takes note of that and acts upon it 😀

  2. Such a fantastic post – you are very skilled! A very good point about snapping away with the camera, put it down and take in the scene for a minute!

    • Thanks so much Matt for your kind comment –
      With cameras on phones as well as ‘real’ cameras we have become dependant to our detriment!
      You’re absolutely right – Soak up the scene with your own eyes 🙂

  3. A truly thoughtful presentation for recording highlights of our trips! The visual can evoke moments of pleasure, I especially like the watermarking idea with a beverage of your choice!

    • Thank you Sue –
      Yes, a few squiggles with a pen can be far more evocative than a laboured paragraph of words, which at their best can only ever be a first draft, which as bloggers – we all know how they read!
      Another simple way to get memory marks into a journal is asking the café or restaurant if they have rubber stamp with their details 🙂

    • I blame school on giving us this totally incorrect view of ourselves not being ‘talented’ by forcing us to submit all assignments once in high school only in words!
      But fear not – Scribbles in our journal are not designed to be works of art to hang on a wall – they are merely memory joggers so can be very diagrammatic –
      This post may inspire you – D is for Doodle not fancy-pants Drawing 🙂

  4. Linda, I was just thinking about your blog as I was putting photos on a post I had written (yes, I confess, I am the shutter-bug traveler) but I was thinking back to the cruise I had been writing about and one of the passengers on the ship who was never without her journal (a rather massive thing, but charming all the same) and we shared an experience in Oman so I watched her sketching as well as ‘jotting’ about her sketch while I photographed along side her. Her notes were charming and fun. I told her about your blog and encouraged her to become a regular here – I hope she has found you and your delightful posts of inspiration!

    • I’m so touched that you thought of me while sailing the high seas!
      There is something very meditative about sketching as one has to be fully present focusing on just what you see before you – So even sitting next to someone doing it can pull you totally into the moment too, which feels blissfully mindful ~
      Thank you for recommending me 🙂

  5. Beautiful Linda your blog i have enjoyed reading them, i should write a blog of my holidays which i have been holidaying for 5 years since retiring, i like your sketches too but mostly i send holiday photos to friends on FB,
    Keep sending your Journey Jottings out please.

    • I’m so happy you enjoyed this post Doris –
      Its never too late to record a few memories from a trip not previously notated –
      In fact, I think its a case of better late than never! 🙂

      • Hello Linda, On August bank holiday we have booked a mystery coach trip we just love these we either go to Scotland Yorkshire Dales or round the Lake District, then in October 5 days in Bournmouth i have never been there.
        Earlier this year in April we went to Cardiff, June to Torquay in Devon the weather was hot, we had a sail round Hoe and Sound Plymouth, last year we went to Cornwall to Newquay lots of surfing schools, but a very hilly place i went to see the donkey sanctury it was oh so wonderful seeing the donkeys, the Eden Project that is a nature reserve that was when my camera got steamed up with the humidity the reserve was growing bananas i missed out with not taking a picture.

        Kind regards Doris

        • Hello Doris ~
          I love hearing about all of your travelling adventures –
          How wonderful to be seeing so much of Great Britain in manageable chunks!
          But it must have been frustrating that your camera fogged up in the humidity at the Eden Project – while we have bananas growing at the bottom of our garden, living in the subtropics, it would have been quite a sight to see them growing in temperate England. 🙂

  6. Hi Linda,

    What a rip-roaring post! I can’t wait until you offer a journaling workshop for us. I LOVE how you turned the humble coffee ring into an evocative travel memory. That might be manageable even for someone like me who can’t draw to save my life 🙂 It’s all about getting creative with it.

    Wishing you luck in the competition. I may be a bit biased because I love your work but if I was a judge you’d be a shoe in 😉
    Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot recently posted..21 Long Haul Flight Tips for Travel VirginsMy Profile

    • What a wonderful comment Annabel 🙂
      You’re so right about thinking outside of the box when it comes to quick and simple ways and means of recording journeys other than long convoluted methods that no one in their right mind would want to be involved with – particularly when kicking back on holiday!

  7. Hahaha, I can SO relate to the vision of the happy snapper memory catcher! Of course I use your fabulous maps and other products; and we collect travel brochures and leaflets – but I also use my blog as a way of recording the memories! I would never describe myself as ‘artistic’ or ‘creative’ (and neither would anyone who knows me), but while I’m writing a blog post I channel the memories (prompted by photos, journal and info brochures) to create a sense of place and how it felt for me when I visited there so other people might be inspired to visit. I hope it works!!
    Red Nomad OZ recently posted..16 RED HOT Go-To Blogs for Australian Travel Inspiration!My Profile

    • That’s what makes such wonderful memories Red –
      Taking the time to truly connect to a place and recording how you felt through all of your senses 🙂

  8. When my kids were younger, I used to get them a scrapbook before holidays and each of these I still have. They have so many memories that they had, as well as drawings, a leaf here or there. They are so beautiful to read now.

    • That’s the thing, the best journal entries – aka dopamine hits – kick in years later!
      Your kids will love you even more for your getting them to that as the years pass 🙂

  9. I’ve not tried a story map yet, but will on my next trip. It’s so true about forgetting things. I’ve kept journals in past trips and added sentences and paragraphs to my photo albums. That helps brings back a lot of good memories.

    • The smallest of notes or doodles can be all it takes to get the ‘ole grey matter sparking – and I love that you use your journal entries, which were notated at the time, with your photo albums, which are collated later 🙂

  10. What a great idea! I always carry a small notebook around to jot down whatever I’m afraid I’ll forget, and sometimes it’ll include a drawing, but mostly it’s words. My notes help me write blog posts later. It never occurred to me, though, to focus on drawings and make them a memento themselves rather than a means to an end (a blog post). I think I’ll try this next trip!

    • I’m sure the only reason we give writing precedence as our means of expression is because in school they only accepted written assignments! I have a feeling if you’d offered a Story-Map to answer the question you’d have got “F” 😉
      Here’s to your next trip! 😀

    • Starting anything new can often be the biggest hurdle – which is why I feel making that first innocuous little mark as quickly as possible is the key! 😀

  11. I often include sketches and doodles as part of my note-taking. Even when my pieces are completed and posted or submitted, I still always keep the original notes. They are nearly always more accurate and memory-inducing.

    • There’s something about a doodle that is so much more evocative than a page full of text so, as you say, tends to be more memory-inducing – which is what we’re after – memory joggers for the future! 🙂

  12. I am always so inspired when I visit your blog Linda. A journal always comes with me, sometimes it gets more action then others, but I am always so happy when I make the extra effort to jot down notes and sketches. Such a wonderful way to revisit a trip sometime in the future.

    • You’re so right when you say you do have to make a little bit of an extra effort in order to reap the benefits in years to come; but aren’t those benefits so truly worthwhile and wonderful when you come to the harvesting?! 🙂

    • Love that you make soundscapes – I wrote a post a while ago – ‘S is for Sounds – Happy Hints for Remembering your Trip’
      I fear, because we live in such a fast paced world ‘rewarded’ with instant gratification that not slowing down (or even stopping) to really take notice both in our lives, as well as when travelling, has become an epidemic 🙁
      The research re the snap happy camera/not remembering so well scenario was reversed when the camera person took the time to zoom in to take a conscious closer look at the subject before snapping!

  13. As you know, Linda, I’m a BIG fan of your work, I love your artistic style – it’s such a good match for me. And you’re so right when you say it’s in the details. Abi and I walked the Camino de Santiago in March/April and between us I’m sure we took at least 1,000 photos trying to take it all in. For this I am grateful because the days walking tend to just blur into one l-o-n-g day and without the pictures and our blog postings, I wouldn’t remember 1/2 of the experience. I wish though that I had taken the time each day to jot down what I was thinking at the moment. It would have served to enrich my memories.

    • Incorporating the act of recording into your trip – or in your case your walk – does require a concious effort beyond, as you say, merely happy snapping!
      That act of stopping, to be truly present and mindful of your foreign surrounds, breathing in the experience through all of your senses and then as you say taking that time to notate, sketch or doodle some of those sensations while they’re fresh does indeed enrich the memories as well as the moment!
      Thank goodness you had the discipline of actively updating your blog to fill in the outline, but like you – I do adore the details 🙂

  14. Such a great idea! You think you will recall these memories of incredible holidays for years to come but it doesn;t work this way. We are headed to Whistler later this year – yay! – and I am so stealing this idea.

    • So happy the post has inspired you 🙂
      I was in Whistler earlier this year and have a fun post coming up about what to do in Whistler if you’re not into snow sports!
      I went not planning on hitting the slopes but, well – they’re hard to resist aren’t they?! So on the last day I skied the most fabulous run from 7th Heaven at the top of Blackcomb all the way down the mountain to the village 😀
      You’ll love it!

  15. Hi LInda, I really enjoyed reading your post today and your ways of recording memories of your holidays. I take photos, and I have just started compiling photo books of our travels. But I do like your doodling books with coffee cup stains and little maps and notations. What a wonderful way to be taken back on a journey. I do agree that I don’t always stop and absorb the moments.
    Happy travels. I enjoyed meeting you today on Jo’s Lifestyle Fifty FaceBook link up page.

    • Hi Jill, How lovely to see you here 🙂
      There are so many ways to recount and recall one’s memories depending on whether you’re an aural/wordy person, a visual person or lean more towards kinaesthetics – With your keenness for photography and creation of photo books you’re obviously visual (like me!)-
      Although the most important thing is to simply Start!

  16. I love this post. I’m a big believer in there being three stages to travel happiness – and the third of those stages is the reflecting and reminiscing on the experience…which can go on for years after the travel itself is finished. I totally LOVE the idea of a beverage ring journal – that’s one I’m going to try on my next trip – a ring on each page with the details of where/when/why/how. I may even try for a few drawings too! 🙂 I’ll report back with the results!
    Fairlie recently posted..Purikura photo booths in Japan. Crazy, quirky fun!My Profile

    • Memory keeping has to be simple or it simply ‘ain’t going to happen!
      Yet the joys to be had in years to come are so much greater than the effort ~
      Would love to hear back from you with how you go on your next journalling foray 😀

  17. I adore this post, not just because of your wonderful drawings but because it so true. A lot of travellers only have what I call a ‘tourist experience’ when they travel to a new destination. They only see the main touristy area of a place, don’t engage with the locals, don’t try the local cuisine or get off the beaten track. They simply snap and leave. I always write a travel diary (because I simply cannot draw) and I always like to walk a city or place and immerse myself in the culture and feel part of the destination.

    • I love walking and immersing myself in the local culture too – Such a great education seeing and learning how people in other parts of the world do things 🙂

      I always feel a twinge of sadness when I hear people say “I simply cannot draw” as I’m sure when they were in kindergarten they never believed (or said) that and at the same time would have produced stunning stick figures of family members, full of expression that everyone around them adored!
      I love that you write a travel diary – Have you ever thought of incorporating a few pictograms?

    • Since most people haven’t tried to draw their impressions since kindergarten its often a question of taking baby steps (pun intended!).
      Here is a post to remind you how to create a few pictograms to sprinkle into your text about Istanbul – which by the by I think is my favourite city – I’m envious 🙂

  18. Great ideas Linda. On our trip to Europe earlier this year, the hubster kept a journal and of course we took heaps of photos. But I know exactly what you mean – already one city is blurring into another and I am finding it hard to remember just what we did where.

    • Its a tricky issue this recording of memories lark Janet –
      While you’re there in Europe having fun it feels like such a pointless exercise – how could you possibly e-v-e-r forget any of this?
      But… as you say – memories do fade!
      I think you’re going to appreciate that hubster of yours, more and more as the years roll by, for those precious details safely stored in that journal of his 😉

  19. I always feel I get more from our holidays than my husband. Oh he enjoys them certainly, but when I blog about them it cements them in my mind. I ask him, do you remember when…. And usually it takes a while for him to remember. I do make notes as I go but I have been in a situation where I’ve taken a lot of photos and later can’t remember what I thought about them at the time.

    • Yes, going over the events again shortly after they’ve occurred certainly helps to cement the memories –
      My husband is the same as yours – Enjoys the moment for what it is and then relies on me to be the memory jogger 😉

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