The last few weeks passed in a blur. I was in Prague and Cannes for work, followed by a birthday weekend in Marseille before heading back to Prague for another project.

Whenever I travel and have the time to explore a place, I would take notes of new observations or things that interest me. This could be anything from how a small Japanese village is reinvigorating its aging population to adding chili to avocado toast for an extra kick or the story behind a historic Art Deco building.

I would jot down my thoughts in various forms: Scribbles on scraps of paper, a list of bullet points on Evernote, an audio recording on my phone or a comment on the back of a name card. Sometimes I take photos to note down information when I’m in a hurry.

Often I wish I have a consistent way of taking notes when I’m on the road so that I will have one central repository for my travel memories.

How do you keep track of your memories or observations when you travel?

When I was recently in Japan, I wrote down my thoughts during the first five days in a notebook. I wish I had continued doing so for the rest of the trip as it was useful to record and reflect on my experiences while the memories were fresh and vivid.

Speaking of Japan, I have always wanted to get a Midori Traveler’s Notebook as I love the brown leather cover and how it develops a beautiful patina over time. In the end, I bought a simple notebook – also from Midori, which is a well-established stationer in Japan – and am happy with my purchase. The quality of the paper makes for smooth writing and I like that the notebook opens up flat.

At the end of the day (or trip), I think what matters more is that we pay attention to what we goes on around us, so that we can fully experience each moment.

With this, I would like to end with a quote from Paul Theroux – who is renowned for his travel writings including The Great Railway Bazaar – about taking photos when travelling:

“If you take pictures, you tend not to look very hard at the thing that you’re taking a picture of. If you don’t take pictures, you look very hard and you remember much more of the experience that you’re looking at.”

6 replies on “Traveller’s notes

  1. I used to keep travel diaries. Occasionally I come across one and they make fun reading. Nowadays I just use the Notes feature on the phone. I hope it doesn’t get deleted.

    1. That’s one nice thing about travel diaries – always nice to read them later on and to be reminded of moments in another place! I think I should make a bigger effort to bring my notebook with me. The Notes feature on the Mac and iPhone is great and I may eventually use it instead of Evernote (on which I had problems with syncing of info).

  2. I always carry a paper notebook with me – a Moleskine for the last few years – and write in it to empty my head. Sometimes on trains – sometimes while waiting for meetings – sometimes while on boring conference calls. Love your blog btw.

    1. That’s a good idea. I’m constantly typing notes or ideas onto my phone instead of writing them down – this is particularly so when I’m at work. I prefer to write them down though as I write faster than I type, even though I probably type faster than most people I know.

      I just popped by your blog – your writing makes me laugh 🙂 Looking forward to more!

  3. I wish I could scribble better too. I would really do what you do on a notebook if I could draw just a bit better. The quote you brought out (and by the way where do you find these quotes i always wonder from people!) says it all. As much as I wish to take photographs down, I often just observe and feel the moment. And sometimes I’d just sit aside.

    1. Hi Alan, you’re too kind – my drawing is elementary, enough to roughly note down what is in front of me. What I enjoyed about doing this is that I inevitably would pay more attention to what I was seeing (than if I were to be taking photos).

      The quote here was transcribed from the podcast interview that I came across on the internet – had to play it back and forth several times in order to get the words right. On other occasions, if I wanted to quickly find a quote to represent an idea, I would type the key word(s) and “quote” into Google search 😉

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