Writing Your Traveling Life
Trips pose a challenge when writing life stories and memoir. If they took place decades ago, unless you kept a journal and/or lots of photos, you may have trouble remembering even such broad details as where you went. Ask me about that – I’m among your numbers. After many tens of thousands of miles on the road here and abroad, I realize that I go along for the ride and enjoy the scenery, but pay little active attention to where I am at any given moment. I have impressions, but few specific memories.
More than once I’ve left home with a blank journal, intent on capturing trip details. Maybe my mistake was capturing too many details. My good intentions always fell by the wayside within three or four days, but the notes I did write are terrific. Not even the pictures are much help, because we never got around to labeling them, and after twenty years, who knows which village was which?
Since the advent of digital cameras and laptop computers, this has gotten better. Now that I’m taking my own photos, I pay more attention to where I am when I take them. Photos are great memory joggers. But they aren’t quite enough. Words help. Labels are better than nothing, but a few notes are even better.
Now that wireless connections are available all over the world, often free, the situation has improved. While the day’s photos download from camera cards, I take a few minutes to write an email to people back home with details of the day’s events, highlights and observations. If I’m not online, I save the email and add to it each day until I do connect. Of course I keep a copy when sending. That lets everyone know, more or less in real time, what we are doing, and it serves as a trip journal for me.
Our daughter has taken this one step farther. She is in New Zealand this month and next with her family while her husband teaches at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch. Rather than trying to stay in touch by email or limiting contact to Facebook friends, she set up a blog and posts every couple of days, complete with several pictures. She’s not only sharing accounts of daily life down there, she’s serving as an ambassador for New Zealand with her humorous tales.
Everyone they know and hundreds more are following the adventures of the Mack family, and such adventures they are. The Chilean volcano ash cloud caused them to be rerouted through Sydney, Australia where they were delayed four days en route to New Zealand. After learning to drive on the other side of the road, they are learning their way around the massive earthquake detours in Christchurch. Their six-year-old daughter was attacked by an indigenous parrot in a wild-life park. Both girls are learning to ski (it’s winter down under). I’d love and follow that blog even if she weren’t my daughter, and you are all invited to follow it too.
There is one factor to consider before going this public with your travel reports. Security. She can do this safely because a house sitter is living in their home and feeding their great big dog. I don’t have this sort of protection, and my house is secluded in woods. I would not feel safe letting the whole world know I’m on the other side of it, so I’ll stick with emails to people I know and trust.
Write now: pull out pictures from a vacation and write about the trip. Tell it all, the good, the bad and the ugly.