“So why did you pick Morocco?” my friend Leo asked when I announced I was moving to Casablanca at the end of 2008.
I pointed to the Peter’s projection map on the wall behind my desk. “Easy. There are two major blank spaces: North Africa and South America.” He shot me a knowing look as he, too, is a travel junkie.
Although I started travelling in 1978 on a Eurail pass, I didn’t become obsessive-compulsive about it until I spent two years in Nigeria from 1981 to 1983. There I took overland jaunts to neighboring West African countries. The travel bug bit deep.
After my second round-the-world trip in 1992 and 1993, I sat down with a map – being a purist it was, of course, a Peter’s projection – and filled in the 29 countries I’d visited: dotted lines for flying, solid ones for overland travel. Then I added earlier trips and it evolved into a work of art, a personal travel statement.
Every time I took a trip I added the information. Countries and years are listed in the bottom left-hand corner, along with a list of the countries I’ve lived in. Another thing on my to-do list was to visit the seven wonders of the world, so they, too, get their own column.
When I left Sydney for Casablanca six weeks after I talked with Leo, I had reduced my material possessions to fit into two suitcases and a carry-on. During my 18 months in Morocco I managed to add Portugal, Algeria and Tunisia to the list. And when Ramadan was looming on the horizon, I decided to pack up and move to Santiago, Chile to start filling in the South American hole.
My dog-eared, travel-junkie map is now tucked away in a desk drawer for handy reference. Being a bit of a Luddite, I prefer something I can touch, point to and sigh over when it comes to the trips I have yet to take.
With the digital age in full swing, there are many online options for you technically savvy Travel Belles. At this free map site, for instance, you can have fun plotting your travels on the interactive map. Then you can download and print copies, post it to Facebook and send it to your friends. You might even want to jazz it up with blog links from various destinations.
What you want to create is a travel overview, an immediate reference of where you have been. To that end, a map and a list – either hands-on or digital – is an ideal way to track your travels.
A word of caution, though. When people look at my map they remark about how much I’ve travelled; when I look at it, however, I see the places I haven’t yet visited.