I have a confession to make, which as a travel blogger is probably not ideal. I have the worst memory ever when it comes to dates and places.
You know those travel bloggers who can tell you the exact day/month/year they visited Japan, or the route they took from Tokyo to Kyoto (including train numbers, distance travelled and coffees drank)? I am so not one of those people.
In fact, one of the reasons I started writing The Grown Up Gap Year in the first place was as a kind of diary of my travels. Even now I sometimes stumble across a post outlining an adventure I’d totally forgotten about. Which is both wonderful and frightening in equal measure.
Over the years I’ve tried to get better at it, I really have. Attempting to memorise routes and repeating facts from guide books about cities we’re visiting, but for some reason or other my brain just doesn’t retain them.
And it’s not just in my travel life, I have a bit of a rubbish memory in general. My friends always laugh at me because, despite the fact that I’ve worked in London for the last four years, I still have to get a tube map out any time I need to get somewhere. Mr A and I even had our wedding date sewn into the lining of his suit jacket, as we didn’t trust ourselves to remember it!
Despite the fact that I love talking about travelling, if someone asks me for a recommendation I usually have to go home and get out my Lonely Planet, or look back through my blog to jolt my memory.
So are all of the travel experiences I have wasted on me?
If I can’t remember the name of the town where I ate the best steak of my life in Argentina or I have no idea where Mr A and I had the funniest night ever at a guesthouse in Japan, then was the experience wasted? Why do we spend all of that money travelling to places which we won’t remember in years to come?
Well for me the answer is easy. I don’t travel to collect facts and stats. I travel for the experiences. I may not remember dates, names or places but I do like to collect what I call my ‘travel moments’. These are the times on my trips where everything seems to stand still and I feel a complete sense of joy and happiness that I am exactly where I am supposed to be at that moment.
The first time I felt it I was 19 years old, on my first ever solo trip standing on a pier in Chicago (don’t ask me to name it) looking out over the water and not quite believing that I had managed to get there. That moment opened my eyes to the possibility of so many future adventures and over the years there has been many, many more times like that. Standing alone outside the Sydney Opera House during the interval (can’t remember what I saw); laying on a rock, eating chocolate during a hike through the coffee plantations of Colombia with a fellow traveller (can’t remember his name) or sharing a giddy smile with Mr A as we walk hand in hand underneath a cherry blossom lined river in Japan (couldn’t tell you where). But despite not remembering the ‘vital’ facts each of those moments strengthens my love of travel.
So that’s why I go to new places, so I can meet different people, see sights that make me stop in wonder and experience those highs that only a life of travel can give me. I may not remember dates and cities, but those are the moments I live for.
How do you like to remember your trips? I’d love to hear how your memory works!