Alan's Blog


Reading (and Writing!)


Recording your Travels


When I go on a trip, I always take with me some spiral bound (they lay flat and can be folded back on themselves without damage) notebooks and a variety of pens (different colour inks). That way, I can always record the names of people I meet and the places I visit along the way (my memory isn't very good). 

I also use my notebook(s) as a diary of events that take place to record the correct sequence - as far as possible.

If you've got lots of notes in notebooks, you can copy them onto your computer - this is what I did with 'Cockroach in my Cornflakes' -, where I filled several notebooks as I went through my journey.

If you are writing a lot in your notebooks, it is a good idea to stop every few days and obtain photocopies of your notes and send the copies home. This will be a great help should your notebooks become lost or damaged while you're still travelling.


It is very important to record the details of EVERY photograph you take - the date, the place, names of people or items in the photograph. Number each storage card and start from no. 1 for each card. Record the card number and photograph number in your notebooks, together with the details of what is in the photograph. I find it is a good idea to list the photographs in the back of the notebook and write my 'diary' starting at the front of the notebook (where I also add references to the photographs).


When I start to write, the important way to get going is just to write down all your ideas, thoughts and memories whilst you've got them in your mind - they are so easy to forget. At this stage it doesn't matter how you write them or in what order they are written. Typos and incorrect words can be left there and dealt with later - just get everything you can recorded - even if it looks a mess. This is particularly important if you haven't been recording events in your notebooks. If you are recording events and thoughts in your notebooks, you can stop and do this every so often during the day.

If you've been following the above advice and recorded everything in your notebooks then all you have to do, initially, is copy what you've written onto your computer. Once you've got all this done, you've got as far as your first draft. You can now lay this aside for a few days. During these few days you can record any further ideas that come to mind about your trip, but, in the main, don't otherwise touch your first draft.

When you feel that you're ready and a few days have elapsed, return to your first draft, including any 'extra' ideas and thoughts that you've added since you originally wrote it. The next stage is to (proof) read what you've written. As you read you can correct any typos or incorrect words (do NOT rely on spell-checkers). You may even find that you're thinking "Who on Earth has written this rubbish?".

You can then start to sort out what you've written and make it into a chronologically correct, well-written piece of text. The stories of your travels that you've already written will help you put together even more thoughts and descriptions of your adventures. As you read through and start editing and adding more text your trip will take on new life and gradually your adventure will come to life in your writing.

Once you’re satisfied that you've done all you can with your writing it is always a good idea to get someone else to read it. A 'fresh' set of eyes and a clear brain will often notice mistakes that you've missed. Ask someone who you can rely on to point out any errors rather than someone polite enough to just say that they've enjoyed reading what you've written (even if they think it's a load of rubbish).

I well remember a new writer who asked me to read the draft of his book about 'bodyguarding'. He'd worked as bodyguard himself and wanted to put his knowledge into a book. Great idea. Very poor execution! He'd written a book that covered everything other than bodyguarding – he'd included topics on 'first-aid' and 'guns' as well as other topics. I had to explain to him that he was writing a book about 'bodyguarding' not 'guns' or 'first-aid' – these topics could be covered in other books. Of course, he could include how these topics might be used in his work as a bodyguard, but not as separate entities in their own right – which is how he'd presented them. He went away to start re-writing his book.

Having got the text sorted out, you need to consider how you're going to present the story of your adventures to your readers. Assuming you're going to include some of the photographs taken during your travels then working on those is the next step.
This will involve at least a couple of steps:

1)         Choose the photographs you wish to use in your story.
2)         Edit each photograph – make sure there is no dust (skies are notorious for showing any dust that might have been stuck to the camera sensor). Make any necessary edits to colour / contrast / etc. and crop as required.
3)         You may find you want to make other edits according to where the photographs are going to be used (print / on-line etc.).

The next step is to layout your work in the way you wish it to be presented. If going into print or e-book format I suggest proper desk-top publishing software is used, such as Adobe In-Design. It will enable you to format your pages a lot more precisely than you can when using a word-processor. If you're presenting your story as a blog, then work to the guidelines of your blogging software. If you're writing a blog as you travel, then be prepared to spend time working on your text and photographs by using rest days where you can 'catch-up' on the story of your travels and stay at places where you can 'upload-as you go'.

Remember that as time passes, so your memories will fade - especially as you grow old. Recording your travel adventures is so important, not just for you to remember them, but for the generations who follow you. Even your children and grandchildren will be really excited to read about your adventures in years to come so don't waste this opportunity of recording something special for which you will be always remembered.

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