This time last year I was somewhere in Vietnam, I think, although off the top of my head I couldn’t say that with any real certainty. It’s annoying, this forgetting business – details are fading, faces in the ol’ memory bank have become fuzzy and I’m finding it increasingly difficult to recall names of places that were not so long ago at the very centre of my existence.
No, I haven’t recently received a blow to the head, nor am I developing early Alzheimer’s (I’m no doctor, but I’m fairly sure that’s not the problem). It’s just that the more time that passes between my travels and the present, the less I can remember about my time away. It’s a frustrating reality of the human condition, but thankfully I was prepared for it and can now rely on a range of aides to kick-start my memory when it goes off it’s A-game.
5 Ways to Keep Your Travel Memories Alive;
#1. Take lots of photos and videos: One of my most prized possessions is a coffee table book I recently had made with some of my favourite shots from my last trip to Asia. The pages of people, food, buildings, scenery and wildlife mean that every time I open it, the memories and stories from that trip come flooding back to me.
Videos obviously take this one step further by providing you with sound and movement. A short video taken from the back of a motorbike, out the side of a tuk-tuk or from a guesthouse balcony place you right back in the scene and help you recall with greater detail.
With the technology available for digital photography, it’s super easy to capture a hell of a lot. Travel with a large memory card (or two) and dump your photos on online storage sites like flickr or photobucket or back them up on DVD or CD every few weeks where they can be kept safe and sound until you get home – where you can pore over them and reminisce to your heart’s content.
#2. Collect things along the way: Sure, you want to keep your bag light-weight and most likely you don’t have piles of money to spend on expensive souvenirs or postage back home, but that doesn’t mean you can’t collect mementos while you travel. In the past when I couldn’t to afford to buy ‘proper’ souvenirs (like in Norway or my first time to Japan), I started picking up cool postcards instead – the walls of my bedroom have now been transformed into something of a postcard gallery, providing me with daily trips down memory lane.
Another idea is to keep a little book (some may call it a scrapbook – don’t judge until you try) with things like ticket stubs, beer labels, business cards and receipts or whatever, along with descriptions, anecdotes or points of interest written alongside. I have a whole manner of things in my travel scrapbooks including; a dreadlock (not mine… long story), half a peanut (another long story), subway maps, drawings, food wrappers, postcards and train tickets. I’d certainly forget most of these had I not kept this kind of record.
#3. Keep a travel journal or blog: Once a year or so, I am whisked around Europe and Asia by… myself, just by reading my old travel journals and blogs. It’s a really nice way to remember my voyages and always find myself cracking up at things I’d totally forgotten about over time.
Keeping a written journal fills the gaps that your photos can’t – like details about people you met, conversations you had, tastes, smells and emotions. I rely on my journals a lot to recall details about places for the blog posts and articles I write… without it, I don’t think I’d remember the names of half the towns I visited last year!
#4. Indulge in armchair travel: With the abundance of books, newspaper articles, magazines, blogs and TV shows dedicated to travel, revisiting a place in your mind and revitalizing your memories is only a page turn or mouse click away.
I read an article in a magazine the other day about Delhi and instantly my mind responded with a barrage of my own memories from India– the smells, the noise, the colours, the people, the thick air, the piles of garbage, the cows… the chaos. I remembered it like I was there all over again.
#5. Stay in touch: The people you meet while travelling are part of what makes travel so special and with things like email, facebook and skype, it’s so easy to stay in touch. Not only does it maintain friendships, but it allows you to tap into another set of memories from your trip that will invariably cover different things to your own. And as an added bonus, keeping in touch also means a bevy of fun people coming to visit you and just maybe a selection of couches to crash on during your next trip.
How do you keep your travel memories alive?