As we’re getting ready to cross Rome off of our lifelong ‘must see’ list, I started thinking about keeping track and how people do it. Travelers, I know- come in all ages, family dimensions, races and forms- and all of us, in one way or another, keep track of where we’ve been.
I started keeping track in middle school- I was obsessed with those agenda things, you know, the kind that had the map of the United States in it on a beginning page. I used to shade in with lines every state in the US that I had visited. I saved it from year to year, updating along the way. I know I have it stashed somewhere in my mom’s basement- and I wish I had it. I have a few more states to add to that bad boy.
In 2002 I moved into a Berkley flat in Michigan. I had a fantastic landlady with whom I became great friends. I came to know her son and ex husband very well, and we even celebrated Christmas together exchanging gifts. One year her ex, Mike, gave me the book ‘1,000 Places To See Before You Die‘. It was the first edition in paperback. I remember being really excited and looking at that huge book with intimidation thinking, ‘So many places. Will I ever see them all?’
In 2006 I was teaching and had a trillion billion brightly colored post it notes. I used the hot pink post its to mark the places I had been- which at that time wasn’t impressive, but I was beginning to log. I liked that. Today my book has many, many more flags on the pages- pointing out that ‘Yes! Yes! I was here!’ and I am so glad that I started keeping track of them.
I can’t tell you how many flags there are. Not that there are SO many I can’t count them, but because that’s not the point and I’ve never bothered. Traveling isn’t a contest of who sees the most. That’s like saying who’s the richest. Someone will always have more money than you- no matter how rich you may be. Just like with travel. Someone will always have seen more than you- no matter how many places you’ve been. What’s important is what you learn and what those places mean to you.
On each pink flag I have written who was there (A, F, B, L & C are today’s letters) where exactly, and when. A month and a year is good- but some of my older ones just have the year. That’s ok. I found it easy to flag things like ‘Bamberg, Germany’ and ‘Biltmore House, North Carolina’ rather than all of the places in Chicago. So even while I have been to Chicago- I didn’t flag any of them because I wasn’t at that specific location. Make sense? It does to me. It should after all, since I am the one that is keeping track.
I started the book tracking only the places that I have been, but it has since morphed into the places my husband has been since we’ve been together. My hope is that I keep it up and add the places the boys go someday- because my dream is that they too will catch the travel bug and want to wander the world.
So while some families might have a bible that passes on from generation to generation recording the births and deaths of each member- we have a book of travel. Sure it’s not the most comprehensive list in the world! But so far, it’s covered everywhere that we’ve visited. And I love that.
How do you keep track?
Linking up with the ever-fabulous SJ in Croatia. If you don’t know her- you need to! Check out Chasing The Donkey and these other fine folks at the Sunday Traveler.