My 3 Best Kept Travel Secrets

1. Don’t take a generic travel journal with you

Generic tome like travel journals are heavy, have no connection with the place you are travelling, and are often hard to ‘start’ due to a fear of messing up that first pristine page and so spoiling what is to follow!

Do buy small thin notebooks (I like the A6 size) made in the area you are travelling, or at the very least the country you’re in! You’ll have the associated story of its purchase from a local news-stand owner, stationery vendor or artisan at a market; and it’ll ooze the culture with local language and design on its cover, and paper with its own unique feel.

Being small it will quickly fill, which is just what you want, as it’s now ready for popping in an envelope, with a beautiful local stamp (or two), and posting home to yourself.

Post your notebook-journals home as they fill

Postmarked envelopes are like passport stamps in that they mark where you were and when; and when you finally return home each envelope will reveal a neatly parceled chapter of your journey.

2. Don’t separate the telling of the tale from the experience

Which means – Don’t leave the recounting of your travelling tales to an evening homework exercise!

Homework 🙁

Do incorporate your notebook/journal into daily activities like you do with taking photos –

Keep it handy – i.e. with your wallet and camera.

So when asking the concierge for directions, give them your small notebook to draw a mud map of how to find where you’re going, and note the name of your accommodation (so you can find your way back!)

Mudmaps are a great addition 🙂

When asking a local to take your photo, get them to also jot down the name of the location you’re in (You’ll be amazed how handwriting styles vary across the world)

And when getting your wallet out at a restaurant, get your notebook/journal out too and ask the waiter to write the name of where you have just dined. (Different scripts all add to the flavour!)

With the outline of your day now recorded for you by other people, avoid filling in the gaps with wordy compositions of woolly fluff!

Keep it simple and quick (there’s travelling to be done!). You’re only after memory triggers that will later help you recall the whole story –

So… jot down the ‘where‘ you are, or ‘what’ you are doing, and then checklist each of your five senses with a word or two that expresses how they are responding to the place/experience ~

For example: ‘rainforest‘: epiphytes (what you see), whip-birds (what you can hear), composting leaf litter & humidity (what you can smell), soft-moss (touchy feely), rich leafy lushness (a taste that is in the air).

I find the last one, what you can ‘taste’, often the most revealing! Incredible how the atmosphere’s taste defines climatic regions for you; and also how you feel! eg Having a dry mouth when doing adrenaline pumping activities. It’s such a brilliant scene setter 🙂

3. Don’t throw away used tickets and receipts ~

It is the day-to-day by-products, which are integral to the journey that can provide your best recall associations and be your most treasured mementos.

Do save ephemera such as headed paperwork, ticket stubs, local food wrappings and coasters and keep in a ziplock bag to be posted home every week or so, as and when your small notebook journal is filled.

There is something about holding a handwritten notebook and mementos that you once held and used when away in far flung lands that seems to magically bridge the gap across time.

Something a blog, in its virtual reality, can never do 😉

Ticket stubs and Mementos

Mementos and ticket stubs

SUMMARY of My 3 Best Travel Secrets

1. Buy a small local notebook/journal to post home every week or two.

2. Incorporate your journalling into your daily activities by getting people you encounter to write in the pertinent place names of where you’re eating, sleeping and visiting, while you simply fill in how your senses are responding to the experience.

3. Keep headed receipts, entry tickets and travel mementos in ziplocks to post home with each notebook as they fill.

Spending time with travel memories fulfills your journey 🙂

Best Kept Travel Secrets was originally published on 8th Feb 2010 posted in Travel Memories

Reproduced here for quick reference!

10 thoughts on “My 3 Best Kept Travel Secrets

  1. Pingback: PostCard Jottings | Journey Jottings

    • Recording memories can become a bit action/verb orientated – First we did this, then we did that, then we went here, and then we went there!
      Remembering to take the scene in through all your senses – not just what you are doing – will make your travel memories soooo much richer 🙂

  2. I completely agree with carrying around a small notebook to journal throughout the day. I take one everywhere I go and it really helps me remember the small details.

  3. Pingback: Tripbase & Travel Secrets

  4. OH what fabulous ideas.

    AS a long time bullet journaller I’m quite adept at filling my blank pages with things I do, want to do, am planning and thinking. And my daily practice is to do this of an evening as a reflection of my day. BUT Adding to the richness by asking others to jot the instruction, map, name of place in situ as it happens is just BRILLIANT!

    What a wonderful tip. Cant wait to put it into action.

    • So thrilled to hear this little tip struck a chord 😀
      When travelling in the hill tribes of Northern Thailand – mainly because I couldn’t spell the name of a place we were in – I got our friend to write it in my journal, which brings me so much closer to that moment in time!
      You can see that journal entry here

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a blog post you'd like to share? Simply tick the box :)