I want you to know that I am not a planner. As a matter of fact, I hate planning. But when it comes to documenting your trip, some forethought is going to lead to appreciating yourself instead of rolling your eyes at yourself.

*Some of you have read much of this in my scooters post, but I’ve added to it and decided to give it it’s own space.

For my recent trip to Thailand, I expected to come back with volumes of photography. I was hoping to make books of my photography. And I certainly have enough photos to make books, but only 3 or 4, not 8 or 9. So, maybe I get a bit overzealous; I just love beautiful images so much.

One thing that I had in mind when traveling to this new land was to document various aspects of the culture. The food, people, lifestyle, architecture, etc. I wanted a well-rounded representation of what I saw. Not only did I plan to photograph, I wanted to create videos so that I might string them together and create a video diary of our experience. Not only that (you’re laughing at me now, I can hear you) I’m a writer, and I wanted to write down my impressions while they were still fresh in my mind.

There were a lot of things that I was hoping to document on this trip, and various ways I wanted to do it: photography, video and writing. Unfortunately, some things slipped through the cracks. I have videos of some scenes but not photographs. I also got very little writing done. I could go back and take screen shots of videos, but that would honestly rid the joy for me and turn it into drudgery. I’d rather the joy.

But I am learning something of the travel blog methods that may work best (or better), at least for me. One thing is to have a plan set out for the day. I love my freedom and relish in it. So I’m not talking about strict guidelines, just things to keep in mind.

I’m going to start posting little things to keep in mind every once in a while to share what I’m learning as I self-teach my way through travel blogging. And I’d love to hear your insights as well. I’m fairly new and I love to learn.

Here are my tips for making sure that you capture the things you set out to capture.

  1. Before you start off on your day, spend a few moments to go over the elements of the trip that you want to document. Just refresh your memory. Sometimes you’ll say, “Oh yeah, I forgot I wanted to right about the shoe culture!”
  2. See what you’ve been making progress on so far and what you haven’t. Are there     any gaps in your journalism? Maybe you’ve been there a few days and you’ve been enthralled with the food but totally forgot to take photos of each location you’ve been staying at. If you’re future goal is to write a post about the best hostels to stay in, it’ll get frustrating quickly when you’ve got photos of some but not of others.
  3. Make a note, on paper or mentally, of what you should keep an eye out for that day and be ready. Will you pay special attention to vendors? Food? Transportation?Make some sort of reminder, like a string around your finger or drawing on your hand, whatever you choose. Try not to get too narrow with your categories, however. For instance, you might try photographing vendors instead of outdoor vendors. It gives you more flexibility later on to play around stylistically.
  4. If not too difficult, try to be aware of the places you might be going. Will there be food? You might carry your phone and go with an empty stomach. You’ll take more interest in the food and be more engaging by asking more questions of vendors. And if you might want a photo with them in it, it’ll help that you conversed with them beforehand. Will there be water? Bring your waterproof camera along. Maybe there won’t be a safe place to store your professional camera. Leave it in your room and just grab the phone.
  5. Always keep your eyes peeled for new ideas or themes to document. We never know what we don’t know. In other words, don’t be rigid and overly focused on a mission. Stay open to the experience as well as the work. I didn’t plan on documenting scooters and motorcycles in Thailand until a few days in because I wasn’t previously aware that they were so ubiquitous. If you could prepare for or be aware of everything, then travel just wouldn’t be as great.
  6. Carry a small notebook. Then you won’t forget that cool idea you had 6 hours ago when you were walking through the market. Or the perfect sentence to describe the texture of the tiles; the smells of the market, the impression a scene left.
  7. Sometimes you just have to stop and regroup. New places can be overwhelming. Most often in a good way. But you don’t want all of your plans to get away from you. So sit down at a café, or a park bench, or wherever is beautiful and reflective of the land you are in, and go over what you’ve captured. Take a breath. Really look around you. Realize the gift that is our ability to travel, no matter how much or how little, and take it all in.

Until next time!