I was at lunch today with some friends, and we were sharing travel stories. One of my friends, Carol (* not her real name) started to tell a story. She stopped mid-sentence because she realised she couldn’t recall the name of the place she was about to tell us about. Our group were all seasoned travellers, as ex-pats living away from our home countries and we all sympathised with Carol, and admitted we have the same memory lapses increasingly often ourselves these days. We insisted this was because we have travelled so much, as it couldn’t possibly be anything to do with our grey hairs!

I like to think of myself as a “traveller”, rather than a tourist. I would rather spend more time in one city, and miss out on others, than check off a list of “sights’ without experiencing any of them in depth. I like to immerse myself in the history, the culture and the language of the places I visit, and really be present in the moment. So I was certain I was never going to be one of those people who forgets the names and details of places they’ve been, or can’t remember whether they’ve visited Belgium or not. Well, dear reader, I’ve become one of those people. Not all the time – I haven’t lost it completely! But occasionally I hear myself saying to my husband “What was the name of that place where we saw that museum?” or “Remember those mussels we ate in … where was it again?”

As my friends and I chatted, we laughed a little bit at Carol and a lot at ourselves. But we also worried that life is passing by so fast and we did not want to lose the memories of those fun times, special places we visited and people we met on our travels. As the only digital scrapbooker in the group, I was the only one who was able to say  “I might sometimes forget details, but I know they are in my albums, and I can easily look them up and instantly be transported back to those times and places”.

This is why I make travel albums. Travel albums are never likely to become family heirlooms. They are not the books that will tell my great grandchildren about their place in the world. They don’t really have much meaning to anyone apart from me & my travel companions. But for us they are a tangible record of life altering experiences. They are a place to display and enjoy some of the thousands of photos I take when I travel. Travel can be expensive, and usually each trip is a once in a lifetime experience that I want to savour and enjoy for the rest of my life. Travel albums achive that better than any other method I know. I like nothing better than to sit and browse through my travel albums and reminisce of the good (and even the not so good) times we’ve had.

I like to include a lot of journaling in my travel albums, recording the details of the photos, the history, the stories, the significance of the places in the photos, but also my feelings and reactions, and the parts of the stories that can’t be seen in the photos. How it was an unbearably hot day and that ice-cream was the best I’ve ever tasted in my life. How the hairs on the back of my neck were standing on end thinking about how ancient the stones I was walking on are. My joy when the rain cleared and I could finally get a half decent photo. I look up guide books and articles to include details in my journaling that I might not have even been aware of when I was there. That process of choosing the photos that tell the story, and writing about them really does transport me back and I get to live the trip all over again. And it helps cement those stories so much better in my memory bank.

Although I did admit to occasional memory lapses, they happen rarely about the trips I have scrapbooked. And when they do, I know just where to go to fill in the blanks.

PS. I have not been to Belgium. Yet.

Here are a few random pages from some of my books. My pages are not fancy, I rarely have room (or the need) for embellishments once I squeeze in lots of photos and journaling. I use lots of p2P Blueprints. The best thing about these pages? They are done!

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24 Responses to Blog: Remember that day we went to …?

  1. Katrina Wolfe says:

    My first scrapbooks – before scrapbooking was a major hobby – were of my family’s cross country trips when I was a teenager – manila paper in cardboard like covers and strings to tie it all together. the pictures are glued in and journaling is done on notebook paper stapled and glued onto the pages also. When my husband and I, 40 years later, were planning a trip out west, I drug out the Northwest trip album to see the route that my family had taken on that trip. The pictures are fading, the pages are falling apart, but the memories are still there.

  2. adakallen says:

    Just for the record…I have a deep dark secret Bucket List! That would be a month looking at Shelley’s travel albums. Shhh, don’t tell anyone, we will keep that secret between just us (since we don’t live very close it is not a likely possibility that will ever come true).

    Seriously, I really love your pages…the content…your artist ability…and so much more!


    • Shelley says:

      I’ll keep that secret just between the two of us 😉 It would be fun to get together and share albums, wouldn’t it! But al least we can virtually share through Facebook meanwhile!

  3. Sharon says:

    Your pages are inspiring. What is the “rope effect” on the border of your Coastal Scenes pages? Is it a stroke effect? I don’t see it in the basic strokes which are the only ones I have. Thanks!

  4. carolyn says:

    I always love your pages!!

  5. junegauntley says:

    Shelley, you are absolutely NOT a tourist, but a traveller! I love that distinction! I like to think that I am a traveller, too! You are such an inspiration to me!! Thanks so much for sharing your heart!

  6. Kristeen says:

    AGREE! I like to think that people looking at my albums can learn some of what I learned on my trips too!

  7. Jan says:

    Right there with you, Shelley, except that I hope my travel albums will be the ones that my children love to peruse and think about me and how much I loved to travel. And I hope they inspire them to take some of the same trips and make their own memories! xx

  8. Sandy says:

    I absolutely LOVE this blog post Shelley. I have felt such a connection to you because of our shared love of travel experiences. The way you captured your feelings about how and why you travel sets my thoughts spinning. I have always been a traveler. We moved a lot when I was a child because my dad was in the Navy. Every change of station was an adventure for us, from getting from one place to the other to exploring the new city that was ours for a little bit of time. We have photos from every place we lived.
    My adventures of personal travel began in 5th grade while living in Naples, Italy. My troop went to Rome for Easter weekend. I didn’t truly appreciate that trip until I had a chance to go back and stand in the same spot in the Vatican that I stood in 5th grade. I cried because I realized I didn’t truly appreciate that experience as a child. That moment rejuvenated my love for travel with Girl Scouts. I vowed to make sure the girls I lead on travel adventures never come home without having a moment that helps them understand the world a little bit better because of that travel experience.
    But it also rekindled the desire to travel with my husband and explore new places together. We have been on a couple fun adventures and are in the process of deciding where our next one will take us. One thing I know for sure is that no matter where we end up there will be a book created to help us remember all the fun in years to come.
    One day, Shelley, our paths will cross again and there will be pages created to document the moments shared.

    • Shelley says:

      Oh thanks Sandy! It has been fun “doing” Italy together! 🙂 Can’t wait to hear where your next adventure will be!

      • Sandy says:

        I am off to Savannah, Georgia in a couple weeks with a group of 6 Cadette Girl Scouts for 5 days. I’ll be home for a week and then I am off to Peru with 24 Girl Scouts (16 girls and 8 other adults). I am so excited for both trips!!! They are both going to be a lot of fun. And there will be LOTS of photos to work on after I get back.

  9. Rhona says:

    Hi Shelley
    I love looking back through my travel albums. My husband has just looked through my latest arrival [which was for our trip in 2013] and said, “I’d forgotten a lot of that stuff”, so my purpose was achieved. I was also struck by your small typo in the blog. While “achive” was probably meant to be “achieve”, the first word that came into my head was “archive”. Both words fit perfectly and I just love having my own travel “archive”.
    Thanks so much

  10. Suzy Dust says:

    Oh I agree with you! I am the same way, leave me in a place for a few days to really explore instead of just hitting the tourist spots. Is Abu Dhabi a Blueprint? I’ve searched all mine and don’t see any that resemble it. Thanks!

  11. sistersunshine says:

    Shelley, Peace & joy. More and more I feel a kinship with you and your way of thinking. Many people ask me why I keep coming back to Mackinac Island… I too would rather ‘know’ one place really well, totally experience it, than to ‘been there, done that’ and move on to the next place. I’m recommending that EVERYONE that is here with us on our p2P LIVE GRAND GETAWAY will Please read this… and lets get those books done. *U* Kathleen

    • Shelley says:

      When our children were younger we went back to the same place every year for our vacation! We’d still be going now if it hadn’t burnt down, sadly, about 15 years ago.

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