Before I had kids, I had a great memory. Since I had kids, not so much. Remind me of your name again, even though we’ve met, what, twenty times?
One side effect of mommy memory loss is looking back at vacation photos and having very little idea of where or why or even how. My solution to that has been to keep a travel journal when we go on vacation so I can remember what we did – and why and how. The travel journal has become more than that for me, though.
Not just a journal
Before each vacation, I get a small blank book. In the front of the book, I write out our intended itinerary, including any important information such as hotel confirmation numbers and whatnot. Next, I take a couple of pages to write out ideas of places to visit like museums or historical sites or even stores.
In the back of the book, I write down addresses of people to whom we’ll send postcards, phone numbers we might need (the kennel, or other contacts back at home), and write lists (don’t forget gifts for these people, or items we’ll need at a local market for camping). These are the strictly functional areas of the journal.
Traditional journaling in the middle
A couple of years ago on vacation, the family was at dinner. The boys were on one side of the table and the girls on the other. Midway through the meal, Sunshine (2 years old) scrambled out of her chair, walked over to Alfs and said, “Daddy gave me a bite of his pasta.” She started to walk back to her chair, stopped, turned back and said, “Too bad for you,” and went back to her chair. That was a hillarious moment — and it likely would have been lost amid everything fun in that vacation had I not written it down in my travel journal that night.
The middle of the journal I save for writing about our trip itself. I make five minutes a night to recap the day — what we did, what the weather was like, who really enjoyed it, did anything silly happen? Even if some of the writing is in abbreviations and shorthand, I make the time. It’s the guts of the trip, and the part to which I refer pretty much constantly when I am putting together the vacation photo album.
The middle of the journal also often comes home with a leaf or flower pressed inside or brochure. If there’s something I want to remember such as store or a brand or even a quote from a stranger, I write it down in the middle.
Travel journals can serve so many purposes — from the strictly practical listing of details to loose and free recording of ideas. They also can serve all those purposes all at once.
The travel journal is more than a journal — it’s an invaluable travel companion.
- Make the family vacation an early education adventure
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- More Everyday Pandemonium by Jen Klein