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!