Everyone has been trapped in Vacation Photo Review hell at one time or another, listening to someone drone on and on about the rock they’re standing in front of while you look at the same four vacation prisoners, smiles waxing and waning like the moon phases, depending on where they were or how close the end of the vacation was. While this is the most common way that travel and vacations are documented, how often have you thought, there has got to be a better way?
I say, your vacation memories don’t have to become slide show hell for anyone. Find another path!
One of my favorite ways for documenting solo travel journeys is to get a small notebook or Moleskine® book. Whenever I stop, I ask one person – whether it’s a waitress or a convenience store worker or the desk clerk at the hotel - to write down one of their favorite things to do or places to go locally, then I ask them to date it, and sign their name. If you have a digital camera available, you can ask to take a quick photo with them (the arm’s length, upward looking shot is my personal favorite). When you return, print out a passport sized photo of the shot, and add it to your book.
This achieves two things: I get ideas for how to spend the day, and I get a little acquainted with the people I encounter in the course of my travels. Yes, sometimes I get a gaze where I know they’re thinking I’m just a little crazy, but in the long run, they’re some of my best memories.
While I’m out and about on my own, I use the same notebook to do everything from take small notes to draw quick sketches to capturing a spare 30 minutes to simply free write about what is coming into my head at being in different places. The mere act of being in the moment and enjoying the now allows me to retain sharper memories of the places themselves many years later.
I record everything from bits of conversations as people pass to what song is piping in on the radio to the most miniscule details about the colors of the environment or what the weather is like at the moment. If I'm at a restaurant and take a picture of the meal (I do this on occasion...) I'll record what the local flavors were... green chiles in the Southwest and how they're used are one of my favorites! I get great recipe ideas to take back home, and the teacher in me remembers that when one uses ALL their senses to mark a moment, one retains more of the memories!
On your next solo journey, take a small notebook and make a personal travel memento that you'll cherish for years to come.