Your travel memories can contain your witness to history, your family’s dynamics, and social context of the places you visit.
The mementos you collect as you travel will mean so much more if there are stories to go along with them. Even beautiful postcards, unless you write on the back of them, don’t reveal the full beauty of the moments of your trip. (See also Writing Postcards: A Lost Art in Need of Revival.)
Pictures are more likely to be worth a thousand words if you share a story along with the image.
There’s a social media meme right now in which people post travel photos that impacted their lives with no words. Perhaps we’ll recognize a landmark, but without a narrative, we don’t know why those photos embodied precious memories. In my opinion, it leaves the observer out of the story.
I could show you a beautiful scene of Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland in the snow, but that wouldn’t tell you what it was like to spend a Christmas there. You wouldn’t understand how three expatriates met up in Switzerland and spent their holiday catching up in a what looked like a fantasy land, unless I shared my travel memories.
Similarly, if you looked at my safari photos, you’d see gorgeous shots of animals. My journal, however, would tell you of the adventures of seeing them. Looking at photos would imply a picture-perfect trip.
The reality: I was sick the whole time, losing twelve pounds in the two-week trip. The trip, like a lot of our adventures, had its difficulties as well as thrills. I loved windsurfing on the Indian Ocean on Christmas day and hearing holiday tunes played with an African rhythm and flair. However, the vigilante justice I witnessed in Mombasa gave me nightmares for months.
Only stories can convey those moments.
Readers like to live vicariously.
There are people who make a decent living traveling and blogging about their experiences.
According to etramping.com, readers enjoy travel blogs them because “Unlike traditional, physical scrapbooks that wear with age and fingerprints, a blog can remain a permanent fixture, which allows you to go back and read through your journey years later and it will remain virtually untouched..”
In other words, not only are you preserving your travel memories for yourself, you’re allowing loved ones and other readers to explore the places you visit.
Writing about your travel memories helps you document yourself.
Not only do your record where you went and when, you can report on your personal journey too. What were your reactions to the places you visited? How well did you acclimate to unfamiliar traditions, foods, or accommodations?
What types of lenses did you use to view the places you went and the people you met?
You can spark interest in exploring.
Like a travel guide, your travel memories can help others learn something. However, unlike a travel guide, your stories can provide snapshots of a time and its social context.
Of course, that means that you’ll edit your piece after your first draft. Readers are less interested in the name of the restaurant and its street address than why you enjoyed it.
In their article Write a Good Travel Essay. Please., SmarterTravel.com urges you to put yourself on the page.
Make me feel, make me laugh, help me learn something… let me in on your feelings, your change of heart and mind, even your fear and uncertainty, as you confronted something you’d never experienced before. If you can, surprise me with something I didn’t know or couldn’t have suspected.