Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always kept travel journals. When I was young, it was because it was part of my homework when my parents took me on vacation, as I got older it was as something to keep track of the memories and things I did while traveling. I love looking back in my old journals to read about what I was thinking and feeling at that point in my life, on that adventure.
I always find that when I look back in many of my past journals, they weren’t really that helpful. Sometimes I didn’t keep track of where I actually ate, or the names of places I actually visited. I’ve gotten much better since then, especially since this blog came into existence, but I still think I can improve on my journaling. Even though I keep track of things on my blog, I still like a handwritten journal to look back on, and to record things I may not want to put publicly on my blog.
So here are some tips on how you can keep a better travel journal, so when you pull it off your dusty shelf years from now you’ll be able to read that journal and go right back to that specific trip and remember it like it was yesterday.
Set time aside to write in it daily
The biggest struggle for most people is finding the time while they’re on vacation or a trip to actually write in their journal. Usually it is the last thing on your mind, and for some people, you may actually dread doing any form of writing or “work” while on a trip, but when you get used to writing in your journal daily, it’ll become a habit.
Set time aside when you can write in your journal that isn’t inconvenient, like when you’re on a bus, train or plane ride, or when you’re lying on the beach, or even at night before you go to sleep. The time you write in your journal doesn’t always have to be at the same time everyday, it really just depends what works best for you and your schedule!
Keep track of everything
I know when you write pen to paper, you tend to get lazy and skip details, but even if it’s point form, jot down everything you do. Write how much you spend on things, where you ate, what you ate, names of places you visited, etc. What I usually do is while I’m out and about during the day, I’ll keep a list of points, facts or key information I learn in my phone, then at night I’ll add it into my journal. This helps me keep track of everything and makes the journalling part easier.
The things is, usually you think to yourself that you’ll remember everything, but you don’t, and it’s tough to remember everything that is foreign to you. You’ll be surprised how handy even the smallest information may be to you, so try and record everything possible, you’ll be thankful for it later.
Go back and add
It’s okay to go back into certain days in your journal and add information you may have forgotten. I often do this throughout my trip but also right when I get back from my trip when my memories are fresh. The thing with a written journal is you don’t have to make it all prim and proper and neat. If you want to write in point form, do it. If you want to draw pictures, do it (P.S. Can you spot the inappropriate doodle I drew in the photo above. Hey, it was from my trip to Amsterdam!). Your journal is entirely yours and that’s the best part about it!
This sounds like overkill but you wouldn’t believe how cool it is to look back at journals I had from when I was a kid and see an old boarding pass, or ticket to Disneyland.
My Grandma’s thing was always to help us make really cool albums/scrapbooks when we returned from trips as kids. We’d sit around a table with our photos from the trip and all the things we had collected, from seashells to art work we made, to plane tickets, and we’d put them all together throughout our books. Even the most un-artsy people can pull something together and as silly as it may sound now, it makes for great reminders of your amazing memories down the line.
Collect boarding passes, tickets, menus, beer labels, business cards from places you stay and visit, the list is endless, just keep them all in a baggy or envelope in your backpack, and then pull them out when you get home to cut and paste into your journal. It’ll really add character and colour to your journal, and like I said, it’ll be fun to look back at.
What to write about
The biggest struggle people have, or the question I get most often when people see me writing in a journal or on my blog is, “what do you write about.” The thing is, even if you are spending an entire day on the bus going between countries, there’s always something to write about. Here are some ideas:
– What you ate
– What you did
– People you met
– How you got there
– How much stuff cost
– How the day or activity made you feel
– How you feel
– Facts or things you’ve learned
Keeping a travel journal may seem like too much work to some people, but it can be one of the best commitments you make when traveling. As hard as it is to think years down the road, or even what you’ll do with your journal when you get home, I can promise you that you’ll never regret keeping one on your adventures. So make sure to add a journal and some pens to every packing list you make, and get writing!