How to keep a Travel Journal
How to Keep a Travel Journal
Fancy yourself as the next Bill Bryson? Every great travel writer keeps a journal, and every great journal is the perfect reminder of your adventure. It can be pretty hard to know where to begin, though – so we’ve put together some top advice on how to make those memories count. From saving those all-important train tickets to writing it while it’s hot, this is how to do it right!
It starts before you leave
There’s more to a trip than the trip itself. Planning and waiting to get on the road (or rails) are as much part of the experience as wandering down the Champs Elysees or throwing your first tomato at La Tomatina. Begin your journal before you buy your train tickets, get on the plane or check into your hotel. When you look back on the trip, seeing how it all began is as much fun as seeing how it turned out.
Top tip: write down the reasons why you’re going.
It’s more than just words
The best travel journal is a scrapbook, a photo album, a notebook. It contains poetry and random thoughts. It’s got entrance tickets to major attractions and random weirdness stuck on every page. It’s full of diagrams, scrawled arrows making connections between thoughts and places, cartoons, sketches. In other words: just because it’s made of paper and stuck between two covers, doesn’t mean you have to think of it as a “book”. You’re trying to trap your whole journey in those pages, so use any means necessary!
Top tip: from train tickets to prayer flags, stick it in.
Write it while it’s hot
William Wordsworth once said that poetry is strong emotion recollected in tranquillity. A travel journal is new impressions recorded on the spot. Get into the habit of writing in it whenever the inspiration strikes. Doesn’t matter if you write in bars, or hotels, or during the train travel that gets you from A to B. The important thing is to get it all down. You can reflect on what you saw and thought in more detail when you get home.
Top tip: write down bits of conversations you overhear.
Travel journals help you to make sense of the conflicting emotions that a new trip can make you feel: from the hope and excitement of going away to the crushing boredom of a 14 hour layover, or the traveller’s depression that strikes when you see the beggar in the street or the caged bird of paradise. If you don’t record your emotions when they happen, you’ll never truly understand what you just saw.
Top tip: be honest. No-one has to read your journal but you.
It isn’t over when it’s over
Coming home can be hard to do – which is why keeping a travel journal is such a great idea. The thoughts and feelings don’t stop once you’ve stepped back through your own front door. Keep writing for a few weeks after the journey. It’s best to complete the journal while your feelings are still fresh.
Top tip: don’t put off finishing. You’ll regret every incomplete record.
Every travel journal you keep becomes the greatest souvenir you could wish for: open the pages in the years to come and the adventure’s still there, as fresh as the day you had it. It’s all recorded. The sights, the sounds, the hotel, the amazing sunset. Just reading it will make you itch to pack up and head off again!
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