I write about my travels all the time.
In my journal I cover the details – date, time, place, cost… In my blog I delve into my discoveries, feelings and learnings.
For those who don’t blog, a journal is the place to hold both kinds of memories. You’ll want the details of what you did and where but at the end of a trip, it’s also nice to have a journal rich with the meaning of your travels.
Here are 9 tips to help you write a journal that covers both.
Tips for Writing a Travel Journal
- Blog or book? Blog or book is a matter of taste and whether you want to share your journal. If you travel with a laptop or tablet and keyboard like I do, a blog is possible and you can set one up a blog for free on TravelPod or WordPress.com (though the latter is a little more complex). If you choose an old-school journal, choose one that is sturday. It could be the classic Moleskine Notebook or one that is a little more fun such as I Was Here. I like a notebook and pen as the information will never be lost with a technology change and the journals look cool on your shelf.
- Document your itinerary. Rough out your itinerary in a few pages at the front of your journal. You can do this before you leave. Allow lots of space between points so you can keep track of how your itinerary changes as you travel.
- Every entry doesn’t have to be brilliant. But every day should have an entry. Writing every day, even small details, will help you maintain your momentum. Miss a few days and sometimes the practice of writing a journal can be lost for the entire trip so try to make a notation no matter how small.
- Aim for brilliance once in a while. When you can take the time to sit down and think back over the day, think about the places you went, the people you met, the food you ate, the scents you took notice of, your activities and the things you learned. As you do take note of what makes you smile. If you want you can even itemize these under a heading: What Made Me Smile Today.
- Find your theme: Consider all the things that made you smile. Is there a theme? As a whole, what did the day mean to you? What did you learn? How did you change? What surprised you? State one of these in one sentence or a series of three short sentences. This is the beginning of a great journal entry.
- Expand on the theme. Once you’ve completed your short introduction, expand. Explain what you learned. Provide details of the history or technology or your own potential – whatever it is that you learned. Describe what you thought before and after, why you changed your thinking, how it felt when it happened, what it means to you.
- Get down the details. When you’re home sharing your travel stories, or perhaps years later when someone asks you for a recommendation, you’ll want to remember some of the details of the day. Write them down in bullet points: where you stayed, the name of that great book shop, where you got that fantastic coffee, the restaurant you want to make sure no one goes to… capture the details that you think will be important but don’t labor over the mundane.
- Go multimedia. Don’t be afraid to sketch what you saw. Have glue with you so that you can add theater tickets, postcards or part of a brochure to make you pages interesting.
- End with gratitude. You spent the day exploring a place other than home. We understand the world by contrasting one thing to another. Compare what you saw to what you live and identify what you’re grateful for in everyday life.
Journal writing as part of our Reader Retreat.
In January we have a Readers’ Retreat in Northern Ontario. Yes, we’ll bundle up and head into winter for a weekend of snow shoeing, cross-country skiing, listening to the frozen lake at night, a campfire in the snow… and yoga! I’ll also be doing a workshop on journal writing. Every activity is optional. The weekend is about relaxing, friendship, trying new things and fun.