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We travel to live, to grow, to learn, and sometimes we travel to forget. Travel can have many beneficial impacts on our lives, including the negative experiences. But to make the most of it, keeping a journal is essential.
There are many reasons to keeping a travel journal from writing articles, to observing personal growth, to having a creative outlet, or collecting memories. A travel journal can help you accomplish many things. And in the future you could use it to make money, change careers, observe how much you’ve grown, plan future trips, advise friends and family, or remember the fun times.
But how do you keep a travel journal? Well there are many ways. In this article I share with you a few different methods of keeping a travel journal. But before we begin, you have to answer the most important question:
The way you keep a travel journal is influenced by what you plan to do with it. Are you looking to publish articles about your trip at some point in the future? If you are, you should write down everything in as much detail as possible. You will likely have to journal every day, sometimes multiple times in a day.
Are you hoping to write personal essays about your trip? Then you would write what stands out to you; perhaps interactions with the locals. You may or may not need to journal every day.
Are you looking for personal growth? If yes, you could write about your thoughts and feelings, what upsets you, what makes you happy. Again, you may not have to journal daily.
Are you looking to collect memories? Pictures, train tickets, small brochures, can make a wonderful scrapbook-like journal. In this case you may not even have to journal during your trip at all.
The end goal for your travel journal will dictate when, where, and how often you’ll have to use it during the trip. And that is important to know for the following point:
Are you comfortable using a digital journal or would you prefer a physical one? Do you have room in your luggage for a physical journal? How much do you expect to write? When deciding on the journal format also consider when you expect to write. Will you write on the bus? Perhaps your phone might be a good option. But in the event your phone runs out of battery, a small physical journal could be a backup.
Personally, I like to have a very small paper journal that I can scribble on during the day. After the trip, I begin to write more detailed articles and essays in Google Docs. I like to spend as much of the trip travelling and I “worry” about documenting it afterwards.
If you’d like to record your trip digitally, there are many options from the notes app on your phone, to the GoogleDocs app. Likewise you can also run a journal-style blog and share your stories with the world. There are free options out there such as Tumblr or a free WordPress.com website, and they can be accessed from smartphones, tablets, or laptops.
Now that you have clarified the most important aspects of travel journalling, here are some types of travel journals you could keep. These are just some general categories, and you can always take elements of one category and mix them with elements of another.
This is a great strategy for those who are completely new to travel journalling and don’t know what to write. Jot down some prompts in advance to answer while you’re at the destination, or soon after returning. Here are some examples:
Writing your itinerary is important if you wish to remember logistical details of your trip. This may be very useful in the future if you plan to write articles and make some money, or travel back to the same destination.
To make the most of your days, you can quickly jot down information in point form. Then at the end of the day/ trip you can translate that information into sentences and paragraphs. Some things to keep track of include:
Typically, an itinerary is recorded in chronological order. For example: On day 1 at 9 am I visited museum A for 4 hours, then had lunch at 2 pm. At 3 pm I went to museum B until 7 pm. I walked around a bit and saw statue C, then had dinner at 9 pm at the restaurant by the water. End of day 1. You can also include details such as prices, waiting times, opening hours, and anything else you deem important.
If you wish to write articles about your trip, documenting essential information along with your itinerary will be very useful. However, even if you plan on keeping the journal to yourself, essential information can help you remember the trip and maybe even plan another trip there. Such information includes:
Every place has something interesting or quirky. Regardless of the end-goal of your journal, fun facts are always a good addition. Some things you could write in your journal include:
Travel can serve as the greatest teacher, but that’s only if you reflect on it. When you get back from a trip, it’s hard to know right away how it will shape you. But years later you may look back and realize how much you’ve grown as a result of one trip/ experience.
After living in Denmark for one year, I came back feeling a bit more mature and responsible. But a few years later, I now look back and realize I have also become quite entrepreneurial and more responsible as a result of that experience. My priorities in life have changed too. Had I not lived there, I don’t think I would have ever started my own online shops. And I don’t think I would have prioritized financial independence the way I do now. I was a shopping addict before moving to Denmark and now I haven’t set foot in a mall in over 1 year!
If you wish to see how your travel experiences shape you as a person, here are some things to journal about:
What can you learn from your trip? Could you adapt any habits you observed to your life back home? Journal important lessons that might help you/ others in the future. Some things to write about might include:
Collect small, flat things you can look at in the future and remember your trip. These things may include:
A word of advice, make sure you are familiar with customs where you are travelling. In some countries it is illegal to bring in seeds, flowers, insects, or fresh foods.
If you like to draw, sketch or paint more than you like to write, this may be a great way for you to journal your experiences. Here are some things you could include in your journal:
In addition, you could also create:
If you are not good at drawing, painting, or sketching, you could collect pictures and make a scrapbook-like journal.
Some people travel specifically for the food. Are you one of them? For a food-oriented travel journal, you may document some (or all) of the following:
Begin by deciding on the journal end goal and format. Once you’ve done that, these are the categories you could journal about:
Of course you do not have to stick to one format only. Your journal can be a mix of different categories and types of media. Have fun and make it unique, but most of all don’t beat yourself up if the journal is less than perfect!