As I read through this, I found myself hoping you would come to the conclusion that you ultimately did: that while travel notebooks are a wonderful idea, it’s more important to live the experience in the middle of its happening. As you’ve noted, the right detail transports you back years later anyway, vivid as anything. My travel notebooks, too, are largely full of worries rather than verbal “mementos,” but I’ve learned not to be too upset about that. It’s in processing the emotional baggage I’ve brought with me that I free myself to travel lighter going forward.
A woman I met in China back in 2011 had the practice of simply writing a few key words as an entry for each day of her trip, rather than trying to record it all. She was around 40 to my 26 at the time and had done a lot more traveling than I had. I remember thinking her method was genius. And yet, when I travel, I still rarely do that myself.
Thanks for the thought-provoking read about how you engage with your travel notebook. I found this very relatable, and I can already tell I’ll keep it in mind next time I go away. Wishing you many more happy travels!