My first backpacking trip I kept a journal every day. I noted my impressions of what I saw, what the city smelt like, the colors of the leaves on the trees, the sounds on the street… minor details about a major event. The journal wasn’t actually for myself but for my mother who had long expressed a desire to travel but the lack of ability to make it happen. I packaged up the notebooks and posted them home to her for her birthday.
Although it cost me nothing but time, it was one of the most precious gifts she ever received from me. She read every book word for word, and felt that she had walked those streets with me. You see, even if your memories are enough for you, there are and will be, plenty of people in your life who would like to share your travels with you.
For the past two years I have kept an online travel journal. This has proven even more well enjoyed than my handwritten journals. Not only does my whole family tend to check in on where I am at but my mother prints most of the diary entries for my grandparents (who do not have internet access) and they too share in my day-to-day adventures.
Although I’ve spent a lot of time traveling in the last 6 six years, when I am home my family and friends do not feel like I am a stranger. They have traveled with me through job hassles, transport disasters, friends made and lost and even my occasional homesickness. Now when I take a break from my travels it is me asking everyone else what they have been up to – they all know my life in detail!
Keeping an online journal removes the need for regular group emails. I give my travel blog first priority and anyone who wants to keep up with me can read as little or as much as they like. I then spend my email time writing personal notes to friends.
The greatest thing about the online journal is that digital photos and diary entries are all kept in one place. I don’t have to try to remember which church is from which city when I am sorting photos now – I just check the date and where I was. I know that one day in the future I might be keen to refresh my memories by reading back my own diary but for now I write it for other people – so that they can live vicariously and so that I don’t become a stranger.