A simple trick to relive your travels later on

A daily routine so easy you can do it for months without missing a day

Do you ever wish you could remember the meal you ordered at that great restaurant while on vacation in Cabo? How about the way you felt when you first went Scuba diving and swam with the fish (but not in a gangster way, since you wouldn’t remember that)?

Over the years, I’ve retained so many of the emotions I felt while traveling and continue to reflect on how my travels have helped me grow in so many ways. Still, the details get pretty hazy even a few weeks or months out—never mind years.

But I’ve found a way to combat the haze while also giving myself a chance for daily reflection. It almost sounds silly written down, but here it goes: I send myself a text message every night with daily memories, mostly highlights but also sometimes lowlights, moments and experiences I don’t want to forget, and how I’m feeling towards it all.

As Sean and I have traveled for several months with Eliza, there certainly have been times when I wanted to skip my daily recollection. Whenever I feel this temptation, I just remind myself that I need to write down at least “one thing” I’d like to remember, which is one more than I would have done before starting this ritual. And “one thing” has always turned into more than one; often the recollections begin pouring out, though some days are notably lighter than others—and some are more akin to a novella. It’s also a lesson in mindfulness, since I often have moments during the day that I savor and file a mental note that I’ll write about it later on. Lastly, it’s a life philosophy: doing something is usually better than nothing, and I’d rather aim for progress than perfection.

If you’re not a fan of texting, you can add a note in your phone or go old-school and use a journal (just don’t forget it). Instead of leaving these memory texts on my phone or in a messaging app, hoping they don’t accidentally get deleted, I regularly copy and paste them into a more permanent home using Google Docs. I find it easy to compile them here and title the doc by the corresponding dates and location(s).

Looking back and reading about my trip months, or probably even years, later is a trip in and of itself.

Here are a few examples of what I’ve written (it appears that Eliza features rather prominently?!):

  • Thursday, April 19 / Paris: Getting Eliza her first pair of sunglasses, which she promptly tried to eat
  • Saturday, June 2 / Listowel, Ireland: A woman said about Eliza: “May she wear red shoes for all of her life,” which I thought was so sweet and poignant and made me realize that my wardrobe of mostly blacks could possibly be spruced up a bit.
  • Tuesday, September 4 / Sydney: Enjoying the decaf long black [coffee] that Sean got for me for our drive up the coast. Happily napping on the way and being woken up to see a gorgeous rainbow in the distance as well as some stunning harbor views.
  • Sunday, August 19 / Seoul: Highlights were a leisurely hotel buffet breakfast (only 2 servings of noodles for me today) and feeding Eliza, though she’s learned how to simply let food fall out of her mouth when she doesn’t like it.
  • Sunday, June 17 / Listowel: Found this fortune cookie: “Your intuition will lead you down the right path” from PF Changs in my wallet.

I’ve been doing this now for more than six months, and only wish I’d started sooner. I’m toying around with adding “one thing I’m grateful for” to my list, but also want to don’t want to risk complicating my “one thing” rule.

What tips help you better remember your travels? Any particularly prescient fortune cookies in your life?

 

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