The Modern Benefits to Using the Old Fashion Guest Book

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The Modern Benefits to Using the Old Fashion Guest Book

Do you have a guest book? They seem to be rather old-fashioned and outdated, but if you like to travel, having one in your backpack is a really good idea. Everywhere I go, I bring a guest book along. I simply ask people I meet if they would like to be added to my email list to receive my newsletter or blog or maybe write me a note. Some of my most cherished memories revolve around notes people have written to me along the way.

Rather than just visiting a place or lounging on a beautiful beach, I like to get involved wherever I go. Since I’m always writing, editing, talking, and teaching, I enjoy taking odd jobs in interesting places I haven’t been before, whenever I can. A guest book is a great way to keep track of where you are going and where you’ve been. This might sound strange, but people are often more comfortable writing something down that they might not ordinarily say. I’ve that happen over and over again.

My first big solo trip was driving cross country from Weston, Connecticut to Stehekin, Washington to work as a breakfast lunch cook on a horse farm, I took two guest books with me and used them both.  My immediate boss was a lovely woman, but she did not talk very much. My hours were very early in the day and I hardly ever saw her; but before leaving, I asked is she’d like to write something in my guest book.

She did: “Thank you for giving of yourself and engaging so positively with our guests. My parents always come visit for a week every summer. This is the first time they’ve said how very nice it was eating meals when you were cooking because you made them feel like you were cooking just to please them and made them feel very welcome and comfortable.”

The Modern Benefits to Using the Old Fashion Guest Book

I was kind of shocked, because at the time, I don’t think I knew which particular couple were her parents. I was just having a good time, chatting, cooking, and learning how to make cowboy coffee on a wood fire.

People came from all over the country to work at the ranch. A newlywed couple was enjoying their extended honeymoon while applying for new jobs. He was a river rafting guide and she cared for the horses. “Watching you taught me that I can have a good time and enjoy what I’m doing on my own,” she wrote. “From now on, when I want to go somewhere or do something, and no one else wants to do what I want to do, I’ll be brave, think of you and do it anyway.”

Two women who were enjoying walking on the Pacific Crest Trail that goes through Stehekin, ate lunch at the ranch one day and had a request, “Here’s each of our emails and we’d like to have yours. Let’s get together when we’re all back home on the East Coast.” And we have met up in New York City three times so far.

The Modern Benefits to Using the Old Fashion Guest Book

Often people give me tips on where to go and what to see, “Do not leave without hiking the Rainbow Loop.” That was such great advice, particularly since I hadn’t planned to do any hiking before leaving.   “Do not cross the border without stopping at Mom’s BBQ Shack.” Best BBQ brisket I ever ate.

Sometimes I have a lesson to learn: “Never, ever, ever put an alarm on when sleeping at an open campsite.” I honestly forgot it was on.  It was also my first night ever camping out on my own, which is no excuse. I wanted the experience of sleeping outside at beautiful Purple Point but made it way too obvious I was a newbie. I knew exactly where the closest bathroom was located and had food in a friend’s refrigerator. In the morning, two men who were a bit upset at my waking them up twice, signed my guestbook with an important note: “Before your next camp out, be sure to learn proper camping etiquette. You can do it.” It turned out that was my first and last camping experience; however, I am very glad I did it. Where will you go on your next trip? Plan it now and be sure to bring along a guest book to meet, greet, and remember the people and places along the way.


  • Sheryl Kayne is a writer, editor, educator, and motivational speaker. She is the author of travel guidebooks. Immersion Travel USA: The Best & Most Meaningful Volunteering, Living & Learning Excursions was awarded The Society of American Travel Writers Foundation’s Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award for Best Travel Guidebook 2009 and Volunteer Vacations Across America was named on Amazon’s list of best new travel books 2010. Kayne travels extensively and works and volunteers where she visits. She was the writer-in-residence at the Everglades National Park, Homestead, Fla. and a writing fellow at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, N.M. She has appeared on NPR, CNN, CBN, ABC Weekend Evening News, Lifetime Television Network, and MTV, among others. Visit Sheryl at:

1 Response

  1. Harriet OLOUHLIN says:

    We stay at the same B&B in New Ross Ireland when we visit since late 70,s friends and our children have been back many times it’s so much fun to look back and find our names and our comments

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