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.
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!
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.
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.