I tell you something: If you’re on a big journey, do write a travel diary! When I was on my working holiday in Australia in 2010, I bought an empty book and wrote down my daily experiences. I didn’t leave out a thing. I pasted maps, tickets, flyers of my activities on the pages, noted my spending and all my thoughts – the happy and the homesick. Five years later, I noticed how precious this book is. I read it for the first time a few weeks ago and I completely loved it. It’s pure memories. It’s completely hilarious. And it showed me how important it is to help our little brains remember.
Did you notice that after a few years our travel memories are basically reduced to photos? All we remember are the things we took pictures of. The reason is simple: We looked at these pictures at least a few times afterwards, showed them to friends and family and explained their context.
“See, this is when we hiked the walk to Manly Beach.”
I remember this day. I remember trees and sun and sparkling water and I know there was a steep cliff – because we took a photo together in front of it. But did my feet hurt? Was it hot? Were there many people on the track? How did we navigate, did we have a map or did we follow signs? I can’t tell. And it’s the same with many other experiences: Some stick to our brains a little longer than others, but give them five more years and they will be all gone. It’s a tragedy.
First, we forget the normal things. Disasters stick probably most of all. Like spending a whole day on the phone desperately trying to book a flight back home when they’re all sold out. We also remember weird things. Like sleeping in the upper bunk bed while a shameless backpacker has sex on the bed below (happened in Brisbane). But we forget how the twelve-bed-dorm smelled and the names of the people we met on our way. How we had to hang up the laundry on the posts of the bed to dry it and the whole room was covered in socks. And how we walked miles to the next supermarket to save the money for a bus ticket.
All these little memories I wrote down in my travel diary when I traveled through Australia in 2010. Reading it was like reading a very detailed and messy novel. First, I didn’t have a connection to my five-years-younger self and it’s emotions, but the longer I read the more came back. It was a little like time-traveling. I tell you, do write a travel diary! Otherwise you will miss the experience reading hilarious sentences like this:
“The people in our room (English and one German girl) seem to be nice but somebody ate our cookies… man, why? Doesn’t make sense to simply eat two or three cookies that are not your own, or am I wrong??” (Alice, 2010, Magnetic Island, Australia)
You don’t want to forget that, don’t you?
But of course old-fashioned paper is so not “digital age”. So this blog will be my travel diary in 2015. Can’t promise another cookie crisis, but I will do my very best… 🙂