1. No matter how good you think your memory is you WILL forget things, however spectacular they seem at the time.
2. It can give you something to focus your energy on when times are tough.
3. You’ll have something at the end to show your grandkids that your were once cool.
4. You WILL forget stuff. I’ve said it already but really meant it!
Don’t mistake documenting with sharing your adventure. Putting one photo on Facebook or Twitter each day is not documenting your adventure. Yes, it’s great fun sharing photos and videos with your friends and family while you are away and don’t stop that, but what’s more important is to create a full and uninterrupted documentary of what you are doing. Now you don’t have to be Ben Fogle in front of the camera. You don’t have to do video at all (even though I suggest it) to capture the essence of your adventure. There are quite a few other ways too. Here they are.
A camera is obviously number one on most peoples list of adventure gadgets. Creating a photo storyboard at the end is an excellent way of showing off your adventure. There are obviously the photos that you take, like incredible sunsets, interesting people and fun experiences that will go into the album, but don’t forget to take photos purely for documentary purposes. These will never go into the main album but serve as a reminder of where you were and what you were up too. Photos not to miss out on are:
1. Photograph every hotel or campsite you stay in, no matter how boring you think it is. When looking back it gives you a good reminder of where you were.
2. Photograph a quick portrait of everyone you had a noteworthy encounter with. Anyone who went out their way to give you directions, someone who gave you a free meal, everyone. These characters can get forgotten and its nice to be able to remember meeting them.
This depends how seriously you take it. I know people who only use an iPhone and I have nothing against that. If space and weight is no issue I like to take a DSLR camera with two lenses and a small point and shoot with at least a 14x Optical zoom. Sometimes the DSLR is too big and might be at the bottom of your bag. The point and shoot can go in your pocket.
You might not want to video but if you do then make sure to mix up talking to the camera as well as what I call ‘filler’ shots. These are scene setters that quite often are overlaid with music in the final edit. Be sure you are prepared to have a good back up system as you go through memory cards quite quickly. I would double back-up all my video and photos onto two flash drives. I’d post one home and keep the second one with me. Flash drives are cheap nowadays.
As with photos make sure you film everything. No matter how boring you think it is. Also try and do a daily diary room style update. Document your mood, both good and bad. A classic example of this is Tom Allen’s - Janapar. He set out to do a cycle adventure video but when he came back realised the better angle was the love story within his cycle adventure. It’s a good thing he filmed everything.
I like to shoot as much as possible on a DSLR. I love the depth of field and quality especially for interviews and creative close up filler shots. I also make the most of the video on my point and shoot which is good for quick shots here and there and some filler shots. Also the focus is generally better on the point and shoot. Lastly I take a GoPro for when its muddy and wet which is when it’s most interesting to video.
Keeping a journal is a great way of documenting what you get up too. I find it quite hard to write when I am tired but some people love spending an hour each night writing down their thoughts. Make sure you don’t skip anything because you couldn’t be bothered writing it down. Write it all. I also like to buy a very old, usually rope bound, journal to write in. They get loads of character along route and become a brilliant piece of art at the end.
Funky pen and vintage notebook.
I’ve started to use a voice recorder more and more for journal entries nowadays. An iPhone has one or you can buy a cheap one. I tend to miss things out when writing as I only write once a day. With a voice recorder you can take notes all the time and it fits in your pocket. Also, especially if you are doing a fairly physical adventure, it’s great to hear your voice. You get a real feel for your excitement, your exhaustion and your emotion. It’s brilliant listening back to it all. Just be careful of recording in the wind. I have many diary entries I did while being chased by tornados in Oklahoma that I cant even hear because of the wind noise. Test your equipment out before you go. That goes for all your equipment too.
iPhone or voice recorder.
This is one of the best things to put together and can get really creative. I say keep EVERYTHING you get. Plane tickets, interesting coasters, hotel slips, bar receipts, direction maps people drew for you. Keep it all even if you have to DHL it home. Unless you are doing a long adventure then it might make sense to do the scrap book when you get home so that you know how big a book to buy, but some might like to keep it up to date on the road. It becomes a great piece of art at the end.
Scrap book, glue, coloured pens and markers.
So there we have it. There are loads of ways you might like to document your tour. No matter which way you decide to go with my ONE piece of advice stays the same. Document EVERYTHING no matter how small or insignificant it seems. Don’t do it for other people. Do it for yourself. Memories are the only really treasures we hold onto in life. Make sure you record some good ones. You wont regret it.