I am a very strong advocate of keeping a travel journal (diary) – sure they are a great way of remembering trips but they can become so much more than this! After all, my scribbled journal entries were what prompted me to start this blog, so I suppose I have a lot to thank them for.
It’s all well and good thinking that you may want to keep a travel diary for your next holiday, but how do you start? Never fear! In this blog I’m going to explain the 5 reasons why you should keep a travel journal and how to start.
5 Reasons to Keep a Travel Journal
Keeping a travel journal is absolutely the best way to reflect on your trip. It ensures that you set time aside to really think about the places you have been and the people you have met.
Your travel journal gives you the opportunity to explore what you enjoyed (and didn’t enjoy), how your trip made you feel and what, if any, lessons you learned whilst there.
As cliche as this may seem to many people, travel does have a long lasting impact on you, it’s a large reason why so many people love to travel, according the Anthony Bourdain:
Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life and travel leaves marks on you.
Taking the time to reflect in a travel journal is the perfect way to understand how you are changing through your life and through your travels.
Your travel journal becomes a companion of sorts, particularly on longer trips where you are frequently encountering new places, people and experiences – It can become a reassuring constant when things are always changing. For me personally, my journal became a familiar friend that I could reach for and retreat into whenever I needed.
It’s important to remember that whilst travel is adventurous and exiting, there is a lot of ‘down time’ for example, travelling between destinations, overnight buses, quiet days to save on budget etc. These parts of travel can get a little boring and sometimes lonely, not just for solo travellers, Shaun and I have had many journeys where we were unable to sit together. It’s during these times where it is great to have a travel journal to keep you occupied and help pass the time.
Okay, I get it – this one is pretty obvious and probably goes without saying, but keeping a travel diary is an amazing way to remember your trip.
Yes, taking pictures is great but there is SO MUCH a picture cannot say – your travel journal captures all of the smaller details of your travels and becomes a capsule of your trip which you can look back on and relive over and over again. There is something about reading your own words describing how you felt at a particular moment in time which evokes memories in a way that nothing else can.
Every year or so I take out my journals and pick some random pages to read and it’s one of my favourite ways to spend an afternoon.
4. You will forget!
Even those of us with the best of memories will forget details from our trips, at the time you will think this is an impossibility – but trust me you will forget the smaller nuances of those moments and this is what makes for really meaningful memories.
Additionally, there is nothing more annoying than wracking your brains for the name of something which seems to have slipped your mind. Undoubtedly, when you return from a trip, family and friends will ask you for recommendations, never again will you talk at length about that amazing meal you ate but shrug your shoulders when asked for the name of the restaurant which you have awkwardly forgotten.
Matador Network refer to a travel journal as ‘personal travel insurance’ “protecting our memories from strolling off unchaperoned, vanishing without a goodbye or backwards glance” and I think that’s a pretty great way of describing it.
5. You can make it entirely your own
In my opinion travel journals are extremely personal, it’s the home to some of your most treasured memories and personal thoughts – so it only makes sense for it to be tailored to reflect you and your interests.
With this in mind, you can really make your travel journal your own! This starts with selecting your diary, you can go for an old school paperback journal but there are online versions too if you prefer a more technical approach
You can really get creative with your travel journal – In my personal experience, I have always stuck with a traditional written diary format because I take my journal away with me and this is very low maintenance. However, if you have an artistic flare you can create a bullet journal which incorporates souvenirs and doodles from your travels and allows you to get crafty.
Tip: I would take a written journal away with you, so you can write daily whilst the memories are fresh and use this to help you create a bullet journal once you return.
Finally, you can write about what interests you! You don’t need to document every minute detail of the trip “7.10am – Woke up, 7:30am – Ate Breakast”, but write about whats important to you!
- Are you a big foodie? then write in detail about the great meals you had, the ingredients, the flavours.
- More of a nature lover? Great, keep a record of the amazing plants and wildlife you came across.
- Not much of a writer? you can even include doodles in your daily entries.
The reality is, you are writing the Journal for yourself, so write about things you’re going to enjoy reading about in years to come!
Selecting Your Travel Journal
Before starting a travel journal, you obviously need to choose something to write in, there are more options for your travel journal (diary) than you may think, so here are a few:
Paper/ Hardback Journal
My personal preference is a physical journal, it’s quite satisfying to carry around an old tattered note book and have a tangible record of your travels.
There are hundreds of different styles and designs at varying price points, so you can find one that suits you.
Digital Travel Journal
So this is a newer approach to journaling, and one i’m not sure I will be adopting any time soon. However, writing in a book is not for everyone and almost everyone will carry a digital device with them when travelling so it does make it easy to use this to journal.
There are a lot of travel apps to choose from, each offering something slightly different. However, in essence the apps allow you to write and add photos to your journal each day, they can also provide some additional information, such as the weather on the day of your entry, maps etc. Many apps will also allow you to share your journal with family and friends and also provide an option to print your diary at the end of your trip.
Creative Bullet Journal
A travel journal doesn’t just simply need to be a written account of your travels – as I mentioned earlier you can get much more creative by turning your diary into a bullet journal by collecting souvenirs and purchasing craft items to create a more aesthetically pleasing end product. However, this is most likely something you will want to do after your trip, so as not to carry around all of your craft items with you.
A great approach would be to keep a simple written journal whilst travelling and using this as the skeleton for your bullet journal. Here you can find a list of the craft supplies you may need.
How to Write a Travel Journal
So now you know why you should keep a travel journal, but you’re probably asking yourself, how do I start writing a travel journal?
It can seem a bit daunting so here are some easy pointers to help you started!
1. Write about things that interest you
I covered this earlier in the post, but it’s important that your diary is capturing things that are important to you, so before your trip think about the things you really want to remember.
2. Write daily
This may be difficult to do everyday, by try your best to write frequently, you will do your best writing when your your memories are fresh and vivid.
3. Remember the 5 senses
When accounting our memories we can have a tendency to simply write about what we see or do (e.g. I did x and saw y, then we went and did x and y).
This can become quite tiresome so don’t forget about the other senses – what did you see, hear, smell, taste and what touched you (I have loosely reinterpreted the final sense for the purposes of writing a journal in order to cover the emotional element of travel).
This will elevate your writing and provide you with the detail to transport you back to these places.
I hope this is helpful for anyone starting a travel journal – happy writing!