Preserve Memories of Your Travels and Other Family Activities – Compiling a Journal Or Scrapbook

I watch my parents age. My dad is 91, my mom 86. Their days are slow and long since their activities are limited. I watch them, thinking what will I be able to do to fill the time when I can no longer be physically active, but mostly, when my memory is fading? It’s made me conscious of preserving my family history and a record of what we’re doing.My husband and I didn’t begin traveling until our 50s. We were busy with jobs and kids, but mostly we couldn’t afford it. Since, however, we’ve been to Costa Rica, France, Italy, China, Vancouver and elsewhere. How am I going to remember all the fascinating places we’ve been and things we’ve learned? I can help by keeping journals – records with words and pictures.Being technologically oriented, I prepare my journals online. But first, I need the material. I keep excerpts from guidebooks, programs, brochures, tickets, maps, and anything else I need to boost my recall. I take ziplock bags on my travels to put all these brochures, etc. in so they’ll stay protected and dry. I take photos of places of interest, of street scenes and of activities that demonstrate the life of the people. I take photos of informational signs, of the names of artists of pictures I like. I buy postcards of what I haven’t been able to photograph (sometimes photos are prohibited) and souvenir books.I travel with a laptop and every night, or in the afternoon since we return to the hotel so my husband can nap, I type a quick journal. Of course, it can be handwritten also. I put down my observations of what we’ve done, seen, what was particularly interesting, how life seems different from here in the United States, and other items of interest. Later on, I can expound on history using the brochures I’ve gathered, or the information from guidebooks. I try to focus on the differences between life that I’m used to and how other customs differ. I look for what makes the location or culture interesting and unique.When the trip is over, I upload my photos, complete my journal, and scan into the computer any maps or items of interest I want in my travel scrapbook. I do it online, but many people do it manually. Whatever suits you best is what you should do. I use a site like Shutterfly or Kodak. When I put together a page, there’s room for text depending upon the layout I choose, and I will copy and paste in the relevant part of my journal. I usually scan and upload a map with the places we have visited circled, or our itinerary highlighted.The books can be expensive whether you do them manually or on the web, but with practice, you’ll produce beautiful records of your travels. The ones I do are hardcover, 10 x 10, and I envision myself looking at them when I’m elderly like my parents, recalling and remembering the wonderful experiences we’ve shared, and even talking about them with my grandchildren. I see these journals as a way to preserve my history and my memory. And if I don’t remember, they will still keep me entertained.And when it comes to preserving history, I might add that I also do a photo book every year of the highlights of that year. I do it online also. Usually, since we have a big family (three kids, nine grandkids, extended family) and we spend a lot of time together, it takes two volumes. I call it something like Highlights of 2009, or whatever the year. If you do this, I caution one thing. Don’t take for granted that people will know who those folks in the photographs are. At least once in the book, give a complete name and mention relationships. What we think we’ll always remember just isn’t so. You know all those cute things our kids said when they were little that we were sure we would always remember and never quite got around to writing down? Lesson learned. So at least once, instead of saying “mom and dad,” give their complete names.These books, along with the travel journals, should give my husband and I many happy hours of remembrance, as well as providing some family history for the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

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