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“J” is for Journalling

I’m blogging A to Z in April! Check back often while I catch up!

One of the things I keep intending to start is a travel journal; I haven’t quite got there yet. I’ve got a bad habit of relying on a handful of digital photos and my own memory, but I think I’d appreciate, at some point, having some kind of a written record of the places I’ve seen and experienced. Plus, it would be nice to have a place to actually keep those admission stubs, tickets, site brochures and other minutae that I tend to bring home from any trip.

I think keeping a travel journal is important; it’s a way to recall a time and a place that had some significance to you, and a way to share your adventures with others in the future. It doesn’t have to be a full-length novel – and Amazon has some interesting-looking journals to get you started.

Here’s a cool list of ideas at traveljournaling.com I like a lot of the things they list here, especially the one about “people journalling.” I’ve met an awful lot of people in my travels, and some of them have been quite memorable. There was Dana Starkell, the guy who paddled from Winnipeg to Brazil – I sat next to him on a Greyhound. There was the family we waited in line with once at Disneyworld – the whole family, except for the son-in-law, worked at Disney, while he himself worked at Seaworld. While visiting Colorado, I got to connect with a group of women I’d met online, and meeting them in person was awesome!

The key seems to be journalling WHILE you’re travelling, and I think that’s where my problem is. I always “save” the journalling for later, and then never get around to it. So the next time you’re off on an adventure, no matter how large or small, jot down a few thoughts in the moment. Even if all there is to hand is a napkin; you can always transfer your musings into your regular journal later.

Do you keep a travel journal? Is it online or off? Tell me about it in the comments!

“F” is for Food

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I’m blogging A to Z in April! Check back every day (except Sundays) for a new post!

Mea culpa. I missed two days and am now playing catch-up – maybe that’s why Sundays aren’t included? They give you a chance to make up for the rest of the week? Regardless…back on track we go.

Food is a HUGE part of travelling anywhere. From the snacks you pack for the car or plane, to the sustenance you require when you get where you’re going, food’s a big deal. For some people, food is one of THE highlights of travelling; new and exotic dishes, local flavours, restaurants that ooze ambience…eating is part of the trip.

Sadly, I am not one of those people. I’m not a particularly adventurous eater, and I usually don’t have a very big appetite. Very often, when forced to choose between eating and doing, I’d rather do – I can always grab a snack later.  When my daughter confessed to frequenting McDonalds while visiting Italy, France and England, I understood completely – I’m always reluctant to spend the time and money that eating well usually takes too.

I do understand that for most travellers, this is not the case. Part of the adventure is sampling local cuisine, enjoying the  dining experience, and, of course, taking pictures of the unique and creative ways that food can be presented in various places. This is know, in Internet terms, as food pRon. (unscramble the letters, it makes sense)

Admittedly, it was on a cruise that I first tasted lobster. Likewise, a chilled banana soup that sticks in my mind 20 years later. And Mexican food in Cozumel was a darn sight better than Taco Bell. And there’s a little place called the Sugar Shack on Highway 11 in Northern Ontario that makes THE best pancakes with maple syrup ever.

What’s the best dish you’ve tasted in your travels? Favourite restaurant? Share your recommendations!

“D” is for digital cameras

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I’m blogging A to Z! Check back every day in April (except Sundays) for a new post!

When I was a kid, making sure the Instamatic had a full roll of film and fresh batteries for the flash were a part of every vacation. (or flashbulbs- remember the flipflash?) With only 12 or 24 exposures available, I had to choose carefully which of those travelling moments I was going to record for posterity. And I remember one time, showing off my Florida pictures to a relative, he complained, “there’s no people in your pictures. There should be people.” My view was that the people I was traveling with were typically people I saw all the time; far better to expend my film on once-in-a-lifetime views.

Digital photography changed all that. With a digital camera in my bag, I could record people, places and scenery with abandon – and if the shot didn’t come out right, well, it could be deleted with the touch of a button. There’s no question that digital photography has changed everyone’s travel experience -you only need to look at the hundreds, or thousands of pictures downloaded after every trip.

But digital cameras have brought their own nuisance factor to travelling. First of all, almost everyone along for the trip usually has a camera, and they’re not afraid to use it.  So now you end up with 100s of photos times four or five – everyone wants their own shot of that monument or museum display. Waiting for everyone to take their picture of that fabulous statue before we can move on just about wears out my patience. Not to mention the room that multiple cameras, battery packs, chargers and cords takes up in the carry-on luggage.

And then there’s the photos themselves. Yes, it’s nice to be able to show off pictures on Facebook and email vacation adventures to faraway friends, but all the viewing requires a computer or digital frame. One of the things I remember as a child is repeatedly sitting down with the family albums in a quiet spot and looking over this pictorial record with my mom or my brother. That hardly ever happens now. Sure, you can print the photos – or some of them (seriously, how many of those hundreds end up being worth printing?) But mostly, people don’t. And  sitting side-by-side in front of a screen just isn’t the same as cuddling up on the couch and turning the pages.

And what happens to those photos eventually? Well, I try, every now and then, to burn a few CDs or DVDs, but then the CD just gets filed away and rarely looked at anymore.

I suspect this is why, even though it’s easier than ever to take your own pictures, souvenir photos have skyrocketed in popularity. Your family enters a venue or restaurant and someone else takes your picture. An hour later, you have a nice hard copy that you’ll take home and frame. You might have three versions of the same shot on your memory card, but you buy the photo anyway, because you kow in your heart of hearts it’s likely to end up as the only printed record of the moment.

Do you print your digital photos?