It was New Year 2015 when I spontaneously decided to make a travel scrapbook. I’d seen someone do it online and decided, perhaps rather too hastily, to do the same. I equipped myself with the essentials: a ring-bound notebook, some overpriced brown tags, a 5 pack of garish Washi tape and a whole load of optimism about the extent of my creative capabilities. I splurged on stickers and pined for paraphernalia I didn’t need. Truth be told, it was never really meant to be anything more than some Instagram-worthy pages, documenting some of my travels, that I thought would unlikely last into 2016. But, here we are in 2020, in the middle of a global pandemic, with UK travellers being forced to quarantine after their adventures abroad; I never thought that my little travel scrapbook would symbolise something which we so often take for granted.
The heavy pages groaning under the weight of plane tickets, museum passes, and restaurant cards are a stark reminder of the unforgettable memories backpacking through Asia, interrailing through Europe and staycations by the seaside. Photos of me in a rowing boat on Slovenia’s Lake Bled and a decadent pistachio ice cream at Lake Garda in Italy take me back to hotter climes. Over time, I’ve collected a museum brochure from the Louvre, the card of the oldest churros café in Madrid and my ticket from the sleeper train from New Delhi to the Himalayas. My sticker from the Cu-Chi Tunnels in Vietnam is hanging on for dear life and the bookmark from the 9/11 memorial in New York remains a sobering reminder of some of the less frivolous and more meaningful reasons to travel.
The tangibility of the memories makes them seem palpable, and the faded ink of the plane tickets makes the scrapbook look and feel well-loved. The polaroids, stuck down hastily with Pritt-stick and arranged higgledy-piggledy around the pages, remind me of the value of having photos in their physical form. The pages marking each new year in my black calligraphy pen remind me of how long I’ve been documenting these travels for, and spur me on to keep going. But what about 2020?
Turning over these pages lined with nostalgia reminds me of the travel opportunities that I’ve been lucky enough to have. The little details that are quickly erased from your long-term memory, like the name of that tiny little café in Cambodia, tucked away at the end of a bustling fruit market that began my love affair with iced coffee. Or the badge from the motorbike tour I went on around the Moroccan souks, amongst the fragrant scents of saffron and the discernible sounds of snake-charmers. Long flights, sweltering temperatures, and the opportunity to experience new cultures are off the cards for the moment. But in the meantime, a trip down memory lane and an English staycation won’t do anyone any harm.
Image: Melissa Feltham (@melissa.feltham.art)