MyTripJournal.com - "The Story"
by Faye Parlow
MyTripJournal evolved from a real trip taken by founding members Faye and Dan Parlow and our two children, Adrian and Robin from September through December, 2001.
Travel junkies by nature, Dan and I have spent years of their lives on the road, backpacking through more than 30 countries on 6 continents.
We had travelled extensively with our kids, albeit on shorter vacations to exotic locales such as Morocco, Costa Rica and Malaysia. They were seasoned travelers, accustomed to unusual food and accomodation, lifestyles and standards of living. However, they had never been exposed to the joys and challenges of long-term travel.
In 2001, we decided to introduce our children to life on the road.
Despite having spent extensive periods of time in Asia, China had eluded us due to political issues and timing. However, in the summer of 2001, everything looked calm and stable and there seemed no reasons not to rent out our house, leave jobs and head for China and Thailand for 4 months.
I was interested in an alternative method of communication during this trip. During our longest trip in 1989-90, Dan and I had communicated with family and friends extensively by mail, but often waited months to pick-up and receive mail. Over the ensuing decade, we had experimented with email as a means of staying in touch while on vacation but wanted something more permanent and easily accessible for larger numbers of people.
I was inspired by the website for the replica of Earnest Shackleton's ship, The Endurance, which I visited with the boys when it stopped in Vancouver. Working mates on The Endurance posted their journals detailing what it was like to be a mate on a tall ship crossing the ocean. I was struck by the immediacy of the contact and by the incredible potential to reach an audience.
I sought out software entrepreneurs and friends Dave Vincent and Paul Melhus of GroupInfoWeb.com, a software solutions company specializing in communication solutions for small groups, to come up with a similar vehicle to record our family's journey. Neither Dan nor I had any specialized computer knowledge, nor were we planning to take any technology with us, so the website had to be extremely easy to use and be accessible from very basic hardware.
The result was a dynamic and interactive personal travel website that integrated mapping and journaling functions. Named Parlow China Trip, it was the pioneer website for MyTripJournal.
We updated Parlow China Trip extensively during their 3 months in China and further 5 weeks in Thailand.
We loved writing Parlow China Trip. It was like having a chat with our friends every couple of days, and it really made us feel close to everyone at home. As time went on and we became aware that people were reading and enjoying the website, we felt a responsibility to make the entries very rich and meaningful. Unbeknownst to the us, the website was gathering a tremendous following with as many as 100 page views being displayed per day. Feedback was tremendous as friends and family travelled vicariously with us, enjoying our experiences as we did.
But the website fulfilled another very important function as well.
Never was the immediacy of Parlow China Trip more evident or more valued than during the events of September 11, 2001.
We had arrived in Beijing only a few days before September 11, and through the website were able to calm and reassure our loved ones that we were safe and that we were able to access information. Having the map function made it much easier for our friends and family to both follow our progress and understand our position relative to areas of instability, which provided further reassurance.
My mother was thrilled to be able to track us through Parlow China Trip as she worries so much about us and now our children when we are travelling for extensive periods of time. In 1990, we were in Nepal during the overthrow of the government and the bloodshed that ensued. It was many days before we could get to a phone and then get a line out of the country to be able to reassure her that we were alive and healthy. After September 11, Parlow China Trip allowed her the ability to know our safety and whereabouts within a matter of hours as well as relieving her of the task of letting our entire circle of friends and family know of our situation as well.
We found communicating through Parlow China Trip the most satisfying method of communication we had ever tried. We were able to post thoughtful journals that described what we were doing, thinking and feeling from extremely remote spots in China with ease. The maps helped to explain the geography and our challenges in getting from place to place. Email communication became a source of clarification and an opportunity to address specific questions people had rather than the sole source of "our story". Often we would post information that arose from our email communication and so the circle of information continued.
When we returned home, our friends were right up-to-date with all of our experiences. There was no need to go back and start from the beginning which made the experience so much richer. Our friends and family told us that they felt like they were along for the ride, travelling in our back pockets.
They also told us they loved the fact that they could read when they felt like it, when they had time, not when an email showed up in their inbox. They loved that they could go back and re-read previous journals. They loved being able to refer their friends and family to the site and that it was all there for the new visitors to enjoy, right from the beginning.
During the trip, we encountered many travelers who were intrigued by Parlow China Trip. Other travelers that we met began reading Parlow China Trip and it was then that we hit upon the idea of creating an easy-to-use, customized personal trip website that required no special knowledge or skills. MyTripJournal was born.
We've preserved our original website, Parlow China Trip. For convenience sake, we have updated it to the current level of functionality offered by MyTripJournal. We hope you enjoy it.
Faye, Dan, Adrian and Robin.