My Reasons to Bring a Notebook Everywhere

My Reasons to Bring a Notebook Everywhere

The real journey is a serious matter. If you wish to experience the world through all you senses you need to leave your comfort zone behind and be prepared for the challenges you have never faced before. I am traveling for years now, and traveling is both: a breathtaking experience and a very difficult process at the same time. The real journey gets to you and it changes you. This is important to keep a good balance between the new and old things, to keep track of the events and make the most of your journey. I find my travels powerful and fulfilling for many reasons, one of which is a constant update of the way I see the world. And my way of doing it is through writing.

Since I remember, I have been always writing down some thoughts on accidentally found napkins, chewing gum wrappings, maps, folders and postcards. And it was never enough space to write everything I wanted. It eventually became annoying to my friends as my postcards were unreadable! The need for a travel notebook became pressing.

I remember the first time I bought a typical travel notebook. This was at the Venice (Italy) airport and I was taking a plane to Boston (USA), with a short stop in Zurich (Switzerland), to visit Nova Scotia (Canada). I saw it in a bookstore and it got me from the first sight. It was six years ago and since then the pile of notebooks on my desk has been steadily growing.

Stockholm

Coffee Place in Stockholm

To Capture a Moment

Taking pictures is one thing. Remembering your journey is quite another. Although I am taking hundreds of photos and making some short clips it should never substitute the real memories. I agree that some beautiful spots are impossible to describe, but the pictures taken have a nasty side effect: when you watch it hundred times they slowly take place of the way you remembered things. I went to the Swedish part of Lapland once and took my notebook with me making notes every day, running a sort of travel diary. Despite taking 800 pictures in 10 days the most precious thing was still the content of my notebook. When I read it after three months since I got back from Lapland I was surprised how quick I was forgetting things. Short stories or funny words- it all brings your memories back.

To Keep Track of the Journey

If you travel once a year it is easy to remember places visited, people met and things seen. If you drive 25,000 km in four months it is much less so. It’s not that I record every second of my travels. Rather, I capture the memorable events so I could get back to them when I needed. Writing things down make it possible to re-enter your experience after years have passed. The written word, more than a simple picture, brings you back to a situation described in every detail. Details impossible to capture in a photo but so much more important!

Classics!

Classics!

To Evaluate My Experiences

Having a habit of writing down the events of the day allows you to think about them again. Often, when days are packed with places and people you can’t follow them in a real time. The journey forces you to stay attached to a present rather than consider the general issues. Writing things down is a good opportunity to cope with emotions and reflections accumulated during the day. When doing notes it happens to me that I realize I wish to meet someone again or visit the same place twice. The advantage of daily writing is that it is sometimes possible to do it while you’re still there, rather than regretting this after getting back home.

To Get Involved

This might be weird, but people tend to start a conversation about my writing. It happened few times that other travelers were interested in my making notes and they started to ask questions about it which- obviously- often turned out to be an interesting exchange of our travel experiences. This is also true for keeping in touch after you get back home: having addresses written down in a place where you won’t lost them is crucial. I’m still in touch with a bunch of people met when I travelled here and there. No need to write embarrassing things about losing somebody’s card BEFORE I started using a travel notebook.

Washington DC

Washington DC

To Escape

Well, there are some difficult moments when you travel, no doubt about it. Even if they don’t happen often it is still important to have your own mode to deal with unpleasant aspects of travelling. If the new place is overwhelming, is shouting at you with vivid colors and unbearable noise you can always turn to writing. It distracts your attention from annoying person or event and helps you to calm down when things get nasty. I’m not saying that writing resolves every travel problem but in my case it helped me too many times to not appreciate it.

To Write My Own Story

My notebook is my own version of my story. And it gives me enormous pleasure to watch somebody reading it. My closest friends enjoy this privilege and I totally love the moment when they read something funny I wrote the day before and suddenly they laugh. And I get rewarded for the effort I made when I travelled and wrote everything down. Because their smile is priceless.

Cherry Blossoms Festival in Washington, DC

Cherry Blossoms Festival in Washington, DC

About the author

I get easily fascinated with people and places. I am passionately curious. I get often seduced with the beauty of nature. Blue sky, pure water, white snow and endless horizon seams to be enough to make me happy.

View all articles by Agata Mleczko
  • hikebiketravel

    Agata – you have done a great job of clarifying the importance of writing.I take a zillion photos and tend to write only on camping trips when I have the time. This is a timely reminder!

  • I so agree! I have to write down everything – when I look back at my notes I’m always amazed at how much I have forgotten.

  • I loved this article because it’s a philosophy I have lived with for years!! I love coming back after the day and writing about the experiences, the feelings, the people, the food; just about everything that happened from sunup to sundown! Thanks for bringing this to the forefront of traveling!!

  • I never travel without a notebook. I’m totally old school like that. :) You list great reasons to have one on hand – I hadn’t thought of escaping, but I see your point!

  • I bring a notebook with me wherever I go, too! When I travel, I always write in it, especially at the end of the day to recall all of the days events. It is fun to look back and read about those times. I have a collection of notebooks, too, and it keeps growing! :)

  • Marcia

    I’ve been keeping journals since I was in high school. It’s a treat to go back and read about the person I was then. I also keep mementos (ticket stubs, lunch receipts, etc.) of my trips in the pockets of my journals and those are fun to look back at. You’re right though, it’s easy to remember one trip but when you’re covering lots of miles and seeing different things on different days, it’s hard to keep track. You can forget with photos alone, writing crystallize the memories. Great piece, Agata!

  • This is inspiring, Agata! I’ve never been a journal type and now regret not encouraging my kids when they were younger to start one. But, I do manage to write notes on my smartphone. You’ve inspired me to try bringing one and jotting things in a notebook during our next trip. Thanks!