I LOVE to write, and my favourite writing of all is travel writing - no surprises there ;)
A travel diary has always been an absolute must-have in my travel gear. But my diary has evolved over the years. So I'd like to share that diary journey, and help you decide what's the best travel diary to travel light with for you.
Three of my travel diaries from years gone by.
My favourite travel diaries.
Of course, my favourite travel diaries are the ones I have!
You can't see it from the photo but they are stuffed full of maps, photos, tickets to shows and concerts. There's even a memorial card for a man I was caring for in his home in London.
They also remind me of where I was working as an agency nurse around London, the weather of the day, and details of the friends I caught up with who were visiting London.
There are so many memories wrapped up in these diaries.
The lost diary but the saved map!
The lost diary - never to be seen again.
In 1992, I was hiking the Coffee Bay Trail in the Transkei. One early morning, while still sound asleep, our hut was broken into. I woke to the commotion of the intruders, and my friend calling out to me to stay put. In the darkness, with the noise and yelling there was a lot of confusion with what was happening. They grabbed the bag closest to the door - mine - and escaped.
I pretty much lost everything that morning - except my shampoo, sleeping bag, the clothes I was sleeping in, my boots that were tucked under my bed, and the map (in the pic above) I'd been reading as I fell asleep.
You name it - the rest was gone. Passport, toiletries, asthma medication, clothes, tent, sleeping mat (remember, these were my heavy days of packing the kitchen sink!!)
Of course I was grateful that we were all safe - but I was in shock. So a hiking companion offered me his hipflask of OB's Sherry - any South Africans will know this tonic - and I dutifully knocked it back and fell asleep!
One of the key things I lost was my diary which contained all the stories, tickets, tips and memories of my trip to India and Nepal with my friends.
I feel like there's a whole section of my travel memories missing.
Except for one saving grace...
Writing letters as a diary.
The saving grace, was that I was an avid letter writer to my parents. Every week I would fire off an aerogramme of what we'd been up to, what we'd seen, witnessed and visited.
My mum saved all my letters and diligently typed them up on her typewriter. So now I have a written record of my time in India and Nepal.
The best diary for travelling light.
The best diary is always the one that works best for YOU! But I'll give you some tips if you want to to go lighter.
My first diary was the beautiful cloth covered diary from the Liberty Store in London. It was my treat to go there in December and pick out my new diary for the following year.
Despite weighing in at 300g it was still a lighter version of my filofax - OMG, remember those? My heavy leather filofax was bursting with information, as it contained my address book, business cards, and all sorts of collectibles from my travels - but at this point I hadn't really kept a written travel diary.
When my Indian/South African diary was stolen, I bought a simple school notebook from a small convenience store on the Transkei coast. It wasn't pretty like my Liberty diary, but as I write this blog, and look over at it - it's rugged, basic, simplicity reflects the trip we had.
My next diary was a travel notebook. This was more a book for my travels than for my day-to-day life in London. Again it was lighter and smaller - a lot more compact.
A digital diary for travelling light.
For travellers who love to write, the thought of a digital diary may leave you cold. You cannot shove tickets, maps, and photos into a digital diary. You can't draw pictures in it.
But if it's lightness you're after, then digital is great.
The thing I love about taking digital notes, is that I can copy and paste my notes into an email. In fact, I write like I'm writing an email to a friend. It seems to bring out the explanations better.
If I was super-organised I could print these emails out and have a record of my trips to add to the diary collection - hmmm...maybe that's a job I can do. And if I was even more organised I could create a photo book and pop the printed emails in the front.
My current diary situation.
What's the best travel diary for you?
The best travel diary for you is the one that you write in. The one that captures the stories, the moments, the feelings. The diary that you want to spend a few minutes jotting down your thoughts at the end of the day, or at your dinner table, or on a train ride. Something you can whip out of your bag or pocket and capture the scene.
It doesn't matter if it's big or small - the decision is all yours.
What else can you pack that's a smaller version?
Check out my blog on reducing toiletries, or travelling light with technology.
Happy travel planning!