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74 replies
Journal is REQUIRED!
Anonymous
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Dear travelers, Don’t forget to write a journal on your travel expierences. I have met many and you can tell by some of the replys on these boards that many people have partied their way through Europe and drank one too many beers in pubs and smoked too much in Amsterdam. I don’t have anything against those people, but if you want something to bring back memories in the distant future of "YOUR" adventure of a lifetime, than keep a journal.

You will need a medium size spiral book or a hardcover book. Place it in a hefty brand freezer bag to protect it from water and sweat. Place pens, highlighters, small scissors, glue stick and roll of scotch tape in "seperate" freezer bag so they won’t leak on your journal.

As you travel, collect brochures, ticket stubs, business cards of all the hotels, hostels, restaurants, museums, tours, activities, sites, pubs, bars, discos, and even stickers from gift shops (you get the point)
Cut out pictures from brochures and make a collage on a daily basis. And write down what you did that day. Add in your thoughts, expierences and feelings, names and addresses of people that you met that day. You can keep track of your expenses by taping in receipts and commenting on the food you ate. It also helps to write the letter&quot" and circle it everytime you take a picture. You can write down what you took a picture of the names of people in it and funny comments or thoughts. This will help you when you return home and develope over 250+ pictures and try to remember who and what it is.
Don’t get behind in writing in your journal. Make it a daily ritual. If travelling in a group of people. You can have the best writer be in charge and make copies for everyone. But, you should also keep your own with your personal views and thoughts. You may also want to keep information on the places you stayed at so that you may help other travelers or family that follow your footsteps. In years to come, this journal/scrapbook will bring back more memories than any picture or postcard. This is a great way to talk about and show your trip to your parents and or grandparents, especially if they helped you out with financial support.

You can also collect beer/drink coasters from pubs and write down the date and city. You can also have your party friends write their names and a note.

You can keep a "BIG MAC" scale in the front or back cover. Write down the price of a BIG MAC or BIG MAC COMBO in every country you visit. This will amuse your friends and many McDonalds offer FREE maps of the cities your in.
(Rome has a great map, also at the tourist office in the train station).

I encourage all positive comments and additions to this post!

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Anonymous
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Good ideas. Ii is very important to keep a journal. Not always easy to make the time unfortunately. Too easy to let slip at times.

The keeping of brochures, postcards, ticket stubs etc, is a good idea but you have to be careful. The ziplock bag that I had with those things was the heaviest thing in my pack by the end of my 2 months. You have to decide what’s important and just chuck out the rest.

When taking photos, try to concentrate mostly on the people you meet rather than just the sights and landscapes. Those pictures are a lot more memorable in the end. You can get better pictures of many "sights" by just buying a postcard since the pics are professionally done.

Still have to start the huge task of arranging photos

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Anonymous
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I just bought the Canadian Traveller’s Journal at Travel Cuts for $6.50. It has spaces to write names of hostels, restaurants, addresses of friends, photo information, places to mark daily expenses, plus a place to write daily journal entries. I’ve been told that it’s a wonderful investment

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Anonymous
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The importance of the ziplock bag can not be over stressed!!! I once got caught in a rainstorm on an overnight and my journal was destroyed— it can’t ever be replaced, and there are a lot of things that even several days later, I wish I could remember better. Another good Idea is use pen instead of pencil, because lead fades, and make sure you don’t use a pen that will bleed if it gets wet— that’s half the reason mine was so destroyed— I could only read 3 pages.
A note on the group journal— while its great to have multiple perspectives, and it can save time to take turns, make sure the person who gets custody is reliale. My travel mates and I lived in 5 different states, and to this day we have seen no trace of a journal we literally spent hours and days and weeks on, or the person who was responsible for it.

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Anonymous
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Not sure if this is the right place to ask this question, but you guys have given some great photo & journal ideas…maybe you can help me.

How do you remember what all of your pictures are? I’m worried that by the time I get back from my trip through Europe, I won’t remember the proper names or exactly what each picture is (okay, so now I’m sure that I sound a little ditzy ). Does anyone else have this problem? And more importantly, does anyone have any ideas on how to prevent this from happening?

Thanks!!

-Gretchen

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Wendy E
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Hey Wendy b,
I do that too – label my cannisters and keep notes on what photos I’ve taken. I don’t think it’s anal at all.

Anonymous
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Wendyb,

That’s a great idea! And not terribly anal…well, maybe just a bit ! It definitely sounds like a perfect way to keep my pictures organized – and they’re lots more fun once I get home if I know what they are!

-Gretchen

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WINGSFAN
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I agree with everything so far. I’m not sure I’d bring scotch tape….I personally like to arrange my pics-n-stuff when I get home…..but a good suggestion nonetheless.

Another suggestion I have, and this may seem like a REAL no-brainer, is to make sure you have your camera with you at all times!! On my last night in Prague, I was really tired from walking all day, so I decided to go to the closest restaurant for dinner and decided not to tote my camera along with me. I figured, what could I possibly take a pic of in a restaurant, since I was only planning on eating, leaving and going to bed! Well….as it turned out, Mark McGuire happened to be sitting just 2 tables away from me and there I was with no camera (I did bring my journal, but what was I gonna do….sketch him?)! Now, I’m not a huge fan of baseball, but c’mon….how often do you see a record-setting athlete dining 2 tables away in in a foreign city?? NEVER, I tell you! Not only that, but the waitstaff ended up being really cool and we chatted for some time……and me, like a total SHMUCK, forgets to bring her camera!

Please don’t make the same mistake!! You never know when memories are going to happen…usually when you least expect it!

Cheers,
Michele

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Here’s my two cents: I copied the calendar pages for the months that I was away and taped them into the front of my journal. I wrote our starting and stopping points each day, or any special events, etc., and that way I could look at my vacation at a glance. It was a great way of keeping track of where we’d been, and for planning what we could do with the time we had left. We also kept track of the days we used our unlimited railpass – just to see how many days we travelled by train.

I echo the advice about the pens. I kept losing mine and it was the most frustrating experience because it seemed that I always had something to write down.

I also echo the advice about not saving all your ticket stubs, etc. We came home with multiple ziploc bags full of "stuff" and I’m still organizing it into a scrapbook a year later!

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Is Travel Cuts is on the web? If not how could I get that Canadian Travel Journal?

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A journal is a great idea. Wished I had done so since I began travelling back in 1990! I used a digital camera on my recent trip, labeled the diskettes according to cities so at least i remember where I took those shots, and wrote a few lines when I get back as I paste them on a document. Oh, I’m in the early stages of constructing my web page! Just got MS Frontpage, bought a text reference and now shopping for a good scanner! Well, looks like I need to take a month or two off and revisit Europe!

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Anonymous
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Journal writing is a great idea. I wrote a journal when I took a 3-week trip to France in High School. Now I am planning a 2-month back-packing trip to Europe in the Spring. I read my journal from 5 years ago and it was amazing all the things that I had forgotten and the impressions that I had then. I felt like a was reliving the experience.

Does anybody know any sites that give tips on travel writing?

Thanks

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Anonymous
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Taking a journal is a really good idea. I just took a tiny spiral notebook with me that fit into a pocket of my backpack, and made it a point to write every day. I would never, ever travel without one.

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Anonymous
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Summer trips are just around the corner. Don’t forget the journal.

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Along with my journal I brought along another book that I had people I met sign and write something in. I’ve got probably a dozen different languages written in there I’ll never understand, bunches of people’s doodles, some people even cut out pictures of themselves and stuck them in there, and everyone writes down little incidents that happened to us. Of course everyone includes their email addresses. Some people I’d completely forgotten about until I went back through the book and wrote to them to find out how they’re doing… I just always had to make sure I got them to sign it before we part ways. It’s probably my favorite thing to go over from my trip…

Anonymous
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I completely agree with the journal — it is the best "souvenir" you will ever get. Just a tip—with the scrapbooking craze that is going on right now, acid-free pens are everywhere. They are formulated not to fade or react with the paper to avoid yellowing, etc. years from now. It may seem a little precautious and uptight, but you want to be able to show your grandkids just how adventurous you were!!

PS – Find the time every day to write. The next morning, it becomes a blur.

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I have not yet had the chance to use my journal, but I am going to Moscow for 10 days in 2 weeks!!!
I bought a journal from Lewis and Clark Industries. It is great! It has an area at the front for personal info, that way you have #‘s and stuff in one easy place. It has a bunch of pages for itineraries, accomodations, and dining notes. It has tons and tons of travel pages with a little area in the corner for weather. At the back it has pages for expenses and reference pages with metric conversions, clothing conversions, degree conversions. It has an attatched elastic band that holds it closed and everything inside. It is also hardbacked, less than an inch thick and weighs less than a quarter of a lb. I can’t wait to try it out! I will let you know how it goes.

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For a Journal that will stay in good shape, think about taking a sketch pad. I always use sketch pads for my journals, because i like to sketch. You can get the basic ones either hardbound like a book, or spiral bound with hard or soft covers. These types often come with Strathmore paper, which is designed to remain nice (not fade and turn yellow and stuff). Or if you look around in art stores or university book stores, you can find a lot of different styles of sketch pads/books that come with a variety of papers and covers. Some really cool stuff too. I try to never buy two sketch books of the same style. It has turned into a kind of collection thing. It’s kinda cool to have all these different styles and types of sketch books. Now when i travel i even make a point to stop in art stores around the world to see if they have any weird sketch books that i haven’t seen at home. These work a LOT better than some spiral bound notebook which will turn to crap over the years. My sketchbook from my first trip to Europe 11 years ago looks as good today as it did my first day in Europe.

As for pens vs pencils? All my notes are in pen. I would only use pencil if i wanted a pencil sketch (though i usually sketch in pen). Pencil requires that you have a can of fixatif. Do yourself a favor and take pens. I prefer black. I take a variety because i draw a lot. I like using permanent felt tip (like fine point sharpies), but if you will only take notes, a roller ball would be better. I wouldn’t take ball points. Roller balls write a lot easier and you can get them with permanent ink and in many colors.

I usually take a few prismacolor pencils too. they are a kind of wax based color pencils. Sort of like really hard crayon but in the form of a pencil. i can take a black and white pen sketch and dash a touch of color on it if i want and they don’t take up much space or weigh much. Sometimes i even take some watercolors, but they are more trouble and i suck at watercolor. Pencil or pen i know how to handle, and to some degree so do you. You use em everyday for pete sake.

Even if you are not the artist type, i would encourage people to try a little sketching. It’s fun and you will surprise yourself. Word of advice though. You aren’t a camera, so don’t try to be. Just freely sketch something. Quick, loose and dirty. maps, buildings, you room, whatever. You can sketch the view from that coffee shop window rather than just sitting there reading your guidebook. If nothing else, it will be really cool to look back on some doodling. We all know how to doodle.

I hope this will be of help to someone.

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for anyone worried about lugging around ticket stubs, etc, you might want to consider mailing some of them home during your trip. I mailed home an envelope of stubbs and pamphlets from Venice last summer, so I didn’t have to carry them around for the rest of my trip. It was economical and worth it.

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Lonely Planet Journals are good.

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Pens…the waterproof ballpoint "Space pens"
could be an idea. They are ~5-10$/piece (refills not sure $)but they use waterproof ink and can be used to write upside down and underwater. I am thinking the former would be more useful than the latter. However, combine the pen with the waterproof paper notepads and you could write in your journal whilst on a SCUBA dive.
The pens are available easily at most camp and outdoorsy type stores, and the paper at anyplace with SCUBA or underwater gear.
Of course ordering online is also an option.

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Great tips!
Thanks to all for your advice!

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I just talked with one of my clients and she was reading a journal that her grandmother wrote while she was in Europe in 1920.
Keep adding the great tips!

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My favorite thing about bringing a journal along, is that I can write about pubs and restaraunts that I liked. I write down the name, exact location, even what I ate and drank and the prices. This way, I can recommend a place to a friend, or re-visit the next time I’m in that particular area. It’s like having your own personalized guide book.

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I became absolutely ADDICTED to writing in my journal on my trip to Europe. I am grateful for it though – because I can flip through it randomly and re-expreience a memory.

It always surprises me how many travelers I run into who do not carry a journal. Do they hope to remember everything forever?

Here’s some of my tips and examples:
http://www.kahunna.n…

~Kahunna

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I’m obviously alone on this oneSmile … but I think a journal is a personal thing. I have many great memories of all my trips, and great photos to remember them by, not to mention great friends I made along the way… so I don’t think that a journal is absolutely required for the benefit of keeping memories in the near or distant future!

Part of the thrill of travelling for me is meeting different people and experiencing different things… so while I am travelling I try and do as much of that as possible and frankly don’t think I would like to give up any of that time writing in a journal. To me it would seem like a chore, which is the last thing I feel like doing when I’m on holidays/my trip of a lifetime.

It may also be that I’m more a visual person… and I love taking photographs. Plus I’m also a minimalist, and the only thing I really like to keep for memories sake are well organised and annotated photos, and of course great memories in my mindSmile… and great friends.

I just think it is completely personal…

Edited by – gipsy on Apr 07 2002 22:41:36

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For me the ideal is a carbonless duplicate book; especially for long trips. About once a week I’ll tear out the orginals and send them back to the folks. That way I save on writing letters and postcards and there are tqo copies in different places just in case one copy gets lost.

The key word, though, is carbonless. So there’s no chance of the sheet slipping lose and staining everything vivid blue.

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I don’t carry scissors or glue with me, but I do collect things and then make a scrapbook with my pictures later. I label my rolls of film by number, but I like the idea of labelling them with place names.

Unfortunately, reading my journals reminds me just how bad my memory is! I am so thankful that I wrote them.

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I find the best travel journals can be found at Waldenbooks here in the US. They’re in the bargain/journal section and you can find them 8inches high by 5 inches wide, about 100 pages or so, with or without lines and hardbound for 4 bucks. I write my novels and short stories in the larger ones but they are the best journals in the world, not too pretentious on the outside and sturdy.

I bring crayons with me and scotch tape for sure, and a glue stick. I’ve drawn a couple of trees or castles and such and while I’m no artist, it’s good for the brain to switch gears.

And based on what someone said about getting other people to sign in their journal, one time while traveling the US, I gave change to every hobo/homeless person who asked for it but made them at least sign their name in my journal. When I’d meet a bartender I’d have him write down his favorite drink.

I write every morning, for about 10 minutes, usually noting the date by:

Day 17, Oia Youth Hostel, Santorini, Greece
Maybe how I slept, my hostel mates, vague plans for the day and an overall vibe of capturing the moment. At night (usually a bit buzzed) I try to write where the last place I was before coming home and during the day I write what cafe I’m eating in, what museums or buslines I took. You forget all this stuff 2 days later but it’s in a little book forever.

The ziploc bags are a good idea, I’ve never kept my journal in one but I plan to this time.

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I agree that writing in a journal is important. Even now I look back on a travel journal from a few years back, and can’t believe how much I forgot. The gel pens used for scrapbooking are good for journals too. They are permanent and colorful.

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Back to the top!again

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This is a really great topic. I haven’t left yet, but I’ve already started my journal—I’ve been writing my tentative packing lists and itinerary ideas in it, and I’ve had my friends write their addresses inside too. The reminder of home will be nice when I’m on the road, and it seems easier to keep track of everyone’s address when it’s in my journal. I think I’ll also add some of the journal tips I’ve seen in this thread.

I think it’s a good idea to look for a journal that closes somehow. Mine snaps shut. I’ve also seen a lot with an elastic band around them. Sometimes when I shove a book in my backpack before class, the pages get all bent and smushed. I’d hate for that to happen to my journal, although I suppose keeping it in a ziplock bag might prevent that too.

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Don’t purchase the basic sandwich type ziploc bag. They are thin and the ziploc function wears out too quickly. I strongly suggest that you purchase the Ziploc or Hefty brand "FREEZER BAGS" they come in quart and gallon size. The heavy duty zipper will last your entire trip. This will keep your journal dry and it is also great for holding all of your maps and ticket stubs. These bags should also be used for film, pens, liquid containers, like shampoo, contact solution, etc. It is worth the investment.

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I second packers opinion on using the freezer bags. I prefer the ones with the easy slide zipping. Another handy thing if you are taking a medium size journal, on the inside cover, stick an envelop there, to hold any ticket stubs, receipts, postcards, pictures you collect on the way. I used it to hold stubs, receipts that I collected during the day, and stuck it into my journal at the end of the day.
I prefer to use a small hardcover sketch book, that has a pen holder (I ALWAYS loose my pens so the holder is handy), and a little tab that keeps the book shut.
My travel journal info, and links to excerpts from my journal:
http://www.geocities…

Edited by – apyf on May 01 2002 13:59:00

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BttT

Edited by – PACKER on May 30 2002 22:42:41

jakkii
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we are about to head off to europe for 7 months of travelling, and i definitely intend to keep a journal (i know my bf wont do it!!). when i was in canada i didn’t keep a journal, and the other day a friend showed me a letter i had sent her in my first couple of weeks there. i didn’t remember hardly any of the stuff i had written (the trip was 5 years ago) and wished that i’d kept a proper journal. which reminds me i should get copies of those letters…

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I agree that keeping journals is a good idea, but I am so terrible at keeping up with it! I have spent a month in Europe for each of the past three summers, and every year I leave with the intention of diligently writing in my journal. The first week or two are usually fine and I write every night, but then it seems that my activities catch up with me and I cop out on myself (too tired, too lazy, etc).

At the end of my first trip, though, I tried something different: instead of writing down in detail everything that happened during each day (the extensive detail might be part of my "cop out" problem – although it’s SO much fun to reread a long, thorough story!) I just made a list of events/places that I’d want to remember. Just a little phrase like "getting lost in Siena" or "train adventure home after Pavarotti concert" triggers the memories for me. It may not be as complete as an actual journal/diary entry (or what I consider one), but it does the job and saves you time to do the things you came to do: sightsee, experience the culture, and meet people. Works for me Smile.

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I’m going to try something new on my trip to Morocco this fall: an audio journal. I’m bringing a small MiniDisc (MD) recorder and a earbud microphone. Each small disc can record 5 hours of audio. I’m still thinking over the positives and negatives of this journal format. If anyone has tried anything like this, please let me know.

~Kahunna
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Kahunna-

My mom actually did something similar to that about 10 years ago on her trip to Ireland. Each night she would just do some talking into a small cassette recorder and when she made it back to the states, she transcribed what she wanted on to paper.
It may take a bit of extra work once you get back, but it would sure make it easier when you are out and about…

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Kahunna, I’m going to do exactly what you have planned when I go to Africa next month. I’ll post here later when I’ve returned to let you know how it went.

One question: where did you get your earbud microphone?

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Mouse-

I bought it at Best Buy for about $25. It LOOKS like an "earbud" headphone – but I should have called it by it’s proper name: lapelle microphone. I also have a "telescopic" microphone, which is about a foot long and costs about $30, but the small lapelle mic pics up just as much sound with just about the same clarity! I attached it to my mountain bike and it doesn’t pick up any wind at all. (making it BETTER than the human ear!) It is well worth the investment. The only downside to the small mic is that is has a 15+ foot-long wire. If it was just 5-6 feet, I would have no complaints at all.

Can’t wait to HEAR (about) your trip! Smile
~kahunna

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I wrote emails to the folks back home in travelogue style, and kept copies of all my emails, so I was able to compile a travelogue from all of the info I sent out. I kept lots of stuff with the intention of giving it to my nephew (3 yrs. old) so that when he gets older, he can pore over all the souveniers of my trip and get ideas about going to Europe himself!

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Sounds really dumb, but does anyone know if I can buy a journal at the Zurich airport? Going to Gimmelwald, no journals for sale there! Or maybe they sell something like that in Murren? Last year I bought my journal when I got to Venice.

I am leaving from Boston and traveling for 15 days
Paris, Pontorson, Amboise, Beaune, Gimmelwald
Requesting help with Transport, Budget, Itinerary
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Jeff, that’s awesome advice. I always send a few long travelogue-type mass emails to folks at home while I’m traveling, and I always save a copy for myself. They make a great addition to your journal. (Plus, I keep those copies in a folder in my hotmail account, and when I’m bored or missing traveling while at work, I read them. It brings back so many memories!) Smile

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I brought a nice hard covered Journal with me to Europe…Glad I did because I would have forgot a lot of little things had I not written them down….Funny how just a few sentences can bring back a flood of memories…I tried to write in it every night but gave that up when I started getting in at 3-4 am….I found the train and bus rides were perfect for this..
I almost took a mini tape recorder that has a voice activated mike…wish I had…I would have had much more to write when I got back and the thing is so small I would have never noticed it in my shirt pocket! I will definitly do that next time..
The e-mails home is a good Idea but I found that a lot of the internet cafes were expensive and full…The ones I used at a few of the hostels that provided them were old slow machines….that took forever just to get on line!
As for the photo’s …I took approx. 3600 shots and the best stuff is of the people I shot…the best memories anyway! Hanging in the taverns and bars gives you a chance to get great people pic’s.
Actually the tripod and camera gear was usually the conversation starter….."what are you shooting"? ….I heard that 100’s of times and that pretty much opens the door for another shot
I did keep everything associated with my travels….hell…I even took a barf bag from the Cruise ship I crossed the channel on!
I haven’t yet put together the wall hanging I want to do but I have a lot to choose from when I get ready!
These are all great Ideas….well worth the effort…

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My solution is slightly anal, but I thought I’d share for those of you who might be interested. I actually made my own journal/keepsake book that I am quite proud of! I was getting frustrated because I couldn’t find one that had everything I wanted it it, like enough room for contact info for people I met, combo of lined paper for writing, unlined for collages, and pockets to stash things like ticket stubs coasters,etc.

So I went to office max and bought a mini 3-ring binder (5×8) some different kinds of note paper(lined and unlined) some plastic sheet protectors- perfect for protecting photos and other clippings, some dividers with pockets, and tabbed address book pages, and index card holder.. Most all of it was in the section where they sell the refillable pages/stuff for Day Runner daily planners, and already had the right sized holes punched in. The front cover of the binder even has a clear plastic pocket where I can slide in a neat front cover collage…All of it for under $25. I can’t wait to use my perfecthome-made journal!

Didn’t think about the ziplock bag though, thanks!

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Dara, that’s great that you created your own journal. Next time I think I will do the same.

I just brought a black hardcover artists’ sketch book. I find that regular notebooks tended to bend and distort, plus the hardcover protected the pages from the wet (I did not use a ziploc but did not need it, good thing). All the businsess cards and ticket stubs and coasters from pubs I dated, threw in a ziploc and sent home after each country. When I got back, I bought a proper book to combine the photos, anecdotes and sent home mementos. It’s my own personal slide show.

My tips: definitely block off the first few pages for necessaries:
addresses fr home and of travellers met; a sep. page for emails; confirmation #s in case your docs get stolen (but don’t be too specific in case the journal gets nicked); #s of your IDs; phone #s of Eurail, airline or travel agent. And of course: inside front cover, "if found please poste to…" Hopefully your theif will have a heart.

And I put a few inspirational quotes on the inside cover as well…just in case I forgot what I was doing on the road.

"I wished to annihilate the tedious intervening days."
– James Joyce

Cheers,
w.

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Just returned from 2 months of running tours in Europe.
The entire group kept journals.
Some caried a small spiral notebook in their daypacks and wrote notes throughout the day. They did not want to forget events, sights or funny things that happened or were said by others. When they write in their journals at night, sometimes they would not remember everything that had happened during their busy day.
Digital cameras were also a big hit. They could show everyone the pictures after they took them or the next day when they were sober.
Recorders are a great idea and I will suggest it for future tours.
Thanks for adding all the tips!

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I also spent 2 months touring Europe and my entire group kept journals as well. I tended to write in mine mostly at night, but some wrote daily and kept even more extensive journals than I, writing things like local customs, expressions, funny moments, etc.

Another thing I did was kept ticket stubs and maps and brochures from everywhere. When I got home I put them in my album.

There were a few digital cameras on my tour, and yeah, it was nice to get instant feedback on the shots. But I found that I was happier with a regular camera. Digital takes away the fun of waiting to get your pictures back, and reliving the trip later when you do get home. One guy on our tour also had a digital video camera (and laptop computer with iMovie for editing). That’s something I’d never do, but he now has a great souvenir!

Oh and Monique, I was in Gimmelwald and Murren. Absolutely stunning scenery. Breathtaking. Chilly, though.

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BUMP

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BTTT

Edited by – Packer on Apr 11 2003 20:21:26