Saturday, December 4, 2010

Executing Your Cross-Continental Adventure part 1.

Now that we have completed the "planning," let's begin a new series with our first edition:

Executing Your Cross-Continental Adventure
Part 1: Five Ways to Document Your Trip

There are a lot of different ways for you to keep track of the adventures you have during your cross-continental adventure. Most of these are fairly common, though there are a couple that you may not have considered. Some require a bit more packing space than others, so if you are traveling light you may enjoy the ones marked with an *asterisk* (this does not mean that you shouldn't do these if you have plenty of room, we are actually doing four of these methods and we are currently only carrying one backpack and one shoulder bag between us!).

*Creating a Sketchbook*
Our most recent method of documentation has been our investment in a sketchbook. While it was the cheapest of all these mediums, it does require the most time. Basically, we use this book to draw and write in whenever we feel inspired. The subjects thus far have never been of places we have been or people we have met- just ideas that whirl through our brains as we travel. Of course, this is not the highest recommendation if you dislike drawing, but if you consider yourself artistic, it is a fun and unique way of compiling all of your inspirations in one. Ours has been a great way for Jake to practice calligraphy and for me to practice drawing and watercolors.
the plus side: Very inexpensive, especially depending on the tools you choose to work with. While you may choose to bring paints, pastels, etc., if you choose to bring only a pencil you will not need to worry about them take up much space in your luggage. Keeping a sketch book and dating your work is also a good way to see how your style and skill progresses throughout your journey- especially if you are just beginning.
the negatives: This is the worst possible option for those who dislike drawing or other types of art. Keeping a sketchbook also requires a bit of care to keep it from getting stained, wet, or otherwise damaged. If you carry paints or other mediums, you also run risk of them spilling and/or staining your other items.

*Keeping a Journal*
Our original intent was to record our thoughts and stories in journals that we had made for us. It was quite nice during long layovers and bus or train rides, but we haven't kept up with it like we had planned to. Journals are a great way to record memories as well as vital information such as addresses and phone numbers hostels, flight times, bus schedules, etc. It is better if the journal is small so that it may easily be carried from place to place.
the plus side: Journals can be a very nice way to record everything you have done, and information about people you have met. It is nice to read about your adventures post-journey, and is something that is easy to share with others.
the negatives: depending on the quality of your journal, it could quite easily get torn and stained throughout your journey. It might also be difficult for some (like myself) to properly keep up to date with entries, especially if you record them another way (such as online).

Collecting Items
This is quite vague, I know, but I didn't feel I should get too specific in the title. Some people have items that they already collect- shot glasses, glass elephants, spoons, postcards, brochures, magnets, etc., which could be added to during their journey. What we have started to do (thanks to Kevin!) is collect beer coasters from every pub we go to throughout Europe. On the back we write the date, town, and name of the pub. We aren't sure what we will do with them when we get home, but we will probably frame the group of them with tags under each one with information about where it came from.
the plus side: Collecting things can be a fun way of keeping track of where you have been, and are great to show off on display when you return home
the negatives: This can add a LOT of extra weight depending on the type of item you are collecting and how many places you go. Also, if you are doing a lot of traveling, the items you are gathering with likely be crushed, broken, or mangled...which is fine if the integrity of the items does not matter (we don't particularly care if are coasters are frayed or stained just as long as we have them!).

Taking Photographs
This is a given. I don't know of ANY traveler who has not brought a digital camera with them. Taking pictures is the fastest way of documenting memories and sharing images with people back home. Most folks choose to go with digital photography, as we did originally, but Jake ended up having his film camera sent to us so that he could take the kinds of pictures he wanted rather than just run-of-the-mill tourist shots. While carrying many cameras isn't wise if you are traveling light, it is a great way to bring contrast to your photos. Also, if you travel with a friend or a group, you also receive different styles and perspectives throughout your journey.
the plus side: Fast, easy way to document memories. Photos can be used in a variety of projects post-journey such as prints, scrapbooks, postcards, calendars, etc. Also a great way to get creative if you have some time to focus on certain shots
the negatives: Batteries are the biggest downside to cameras. If you have a rechargeable battery, you are always hunting for a place to juice it up, if you rely on AA or AAA batteries, you are carrying a lot of extra weight and spending a lot of money. Cameras are also more likely to be broken or stolen in crowded areas.

Making a Blog
Blogging is becoming more and more popular by the day. While it may seem that "everyone is doing it," I still find blogs to be one of the most accessible sources of information on travel, reviews, and ideas. When I am planning to go someplace, I love reading about what others have done when they were there, how they likes where they went, and what they recommend I try. Creating a blog is very simple, and can be a fast way to record the daily (or weekly) events of your trip. When I blog about my adventures, I typically will type them when the inspiration hits, and then just save them in a text document until I have internet access again.
the plus side: Blogging is an easy way to share your adventures "as they happen" (or almost, anyways) by sending the link to friends and family where they can read about what you are doing and leave feedback. It is also a great way to share the photos you have been taking throughout your adventures.
the negatives: Unless you spend a lot of time in internet cafes, you will need to bring a netbook or laptop. This could add extra weight to your luggage, and unfortunately it makes you a slave to electricity again (which can be a pain if both your camera AND laptop die at the same time...priorities!). It can also be a hassle to some to be updating all the time, or they could feel bothered by others wanting more information than time allows.

*note: due to laziness, none of the pictures were taken by me therefore I take no credit for any of their beauty, ugliness, otherwise adjectively described presences. These images can be found on along with many others. Thank you.

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