At the end of the day, all we have are our memories. This thought travels with me through my life, perhaps a moving factor for becoming a photographer. Preceding this however, back into my early early years, has been my constant journaling.
Travelling solo last year opened my eyes and thoughts to the height of life experiences; To how I was interpreting it. What it meant to me, how I was coping. The details of a crisp croissant dipped in my cafe au lait in a Paris café became romantically recorded on the page reflecting on the moment. It was as romantic as it sounds.
I took a Moleskine diary. The kind with art paper, thick and ready for me to spill out in ink on. It became my prized souvenir possession and it accompanied me everywhere. There is no place I would not write. There was no place where I was not observing everything around me. One becomes hyper aware of surroundings and yourself when things are not familiar. Its in these moments I testify that we get to know ourselves intimately, which allows our vulnerabilities to come through when we are with others.
Looking back on my diaries from worldly travels gives me the sense I will leave something for someone to read one day. A sort of time capsule of my existence. But for now, it serves as a reminder that life is indeed a journey, I have failed and learnt. I have lived.
New York City is approaching and I once again am preparing my journal to filled. There are a couple of things I want to tell you about the way I journal, they are excellent starting points:
Before you go:
- Open up your new Moleskine journal. In the back there is a pocket, clip in some paper clips to keep momentos safe.
- Pack some sticky tape or a small glue stick in your luggage to adhere things like business cards, photos, receipts, tickets etc.
- Have at least 4 of the pens you love to write with, I like things to be uniform in my diary and heaven forbid I cannot find a black artline pen!
- In the last pages of the diary, write a list of your must see/eat/play/experience places, include opening and closing times, address and contact details.
A note on this: Do your research before you go! I cannot tell you this enough. Time is to be spent doing, not floundering what to do when you get there. Just trust me on this one but do allow yourself to be carried toward whatever fabulous experience presents itself.
Throughout your travels:
- Aim to write every second day. I, personally, scribble something everyday. It’s a part of my experience when I stop to rest for my coffee or reflect on my day once I climb into bed.
- Date your scribbles and write where you are.
- Collect souvenirs from everywhere you go. Business cards from restaurants, tickets, brochures or postcards from galleries. In some places, they even have an ink stamp to commemorate your visit! This is why I carry my journal everywhere!
- If you are just too busy to write a hearty page, use dot points. They are a quick and easy way to record your day.
- Draw, scribble, illustrate. This is your memory, your diary. Don’t worry about how it looks, its about what it will make you feel.
- Take photos! Now lets be real, you probably won’t go and print off the photos you snapped on your iphone. This is why I take my Instax Camera with me when I travel. Instant, fabulous images of a single moment dominate the look and feel of my diaries. Sticking them in is so much fun!
- If you buy something that comes in a little bag, or you get an envelope – I like to stick these in and fill them with the days souvenirs and a little note. It is such a joy to open it up later on!
- Add details! I like to put in a ‘flavour note’, ‘music note’ or ‘atmosphere note’. I.e ‘Flavour Note: Croissant dipped in Cafe au Lait’. It’s these little things that jog your memory and make it a richer experience.
- Write in quotes and random thoughts as they come.
- When you meet people, ask them to jot down a little note or a picture to you in your diary!
- Write lists – This is a particularly fun way to describe your surroundings.
“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”