How To Keep A Travel Journal

Map your travels with a travel journal.
by Updated January 29, 2009

Most of us love to travel, exploring new places and escaping the rat race for a little while.  Unfortunately, once we return home there are so many demands on our time, thoughts and energy that it can be very easy to forget all the wonderful moments that we enjoyed on our travels. So keeping a travel journal is a great way to keep those memories fresh.

Take a moment, and think about the most recent trip you went on.  How much of it can you remember?  Chances are, if it was fairly recent, you can probably still remember a great deal.  Now think back to one of the first trips you ever went on.  Are your memories as clear?  Or are they faded now?  I know I pulled out a photo album recently, with photos that were taken when I was in my late teens, and I have NO idea where I went on that trip.  I'm not going to admit exactly how many years ago it would have been, but certainly it's a few.  If I hadn't looked at the photos, I probably wouldn't even have remembered that I'd been anywhere.

It would have certainly been better if I had used those photos and a travel journal to create a scrapbook. Even if I'd simply been able to pull out a travel journal that covered that time period, and match up the journal with the photos, it would have been better than having lost those memories forever.

So if you're thinking about keeping a travel journal, here are some things to think about.  Firstly, make sure your journal is compact.  It's always easier if you can travel light, so the last thing you need is a big, heavy book to lug around.  It's also good if your journal has a durable cover, preferably one that's waterproof.  It's amazing how often your travel journal will either get rained on or have things spilled on it, so make sure it's protected.  It's also good to have one that opens out flat, so a spiral binding is often a good choice.

As for what to write, try to make your journal a bit more interesting than just a list of what you saw today.  Some other things you can mention include:

- who you traveled with
- the place you stayed and whether or not you enjoyed it
- new friends you made and their contact details
- great eating places you discovered
- notes about what you saw, and anything you missed that you'd like to see next time

If you take the time to enter this sort of information in your travel journal, then you'll find that in the years to come it will be enjoyable to open it up and read again.  It can also come in handy if you or a friend plan to visit that area again, because you can refer back to it and remember all the best places to go.  Perhaps one day in the future your child or grandchild might even like to recreate your journey.

In the end, your journal is meant to be just that - a journal.  It's not meant to be a three-volume novel containing every single tiny detail of every day.  You want to be out enjoying your holiday, not stuck inside writing about it all day long!  So limit how long you spend maintaining your journal, but also make sure you do it every day.  If you're going to spend time on a train or bus, that's a great opportunity to write your latest update.  Just make sure you do it, and in the future you'll be very glad you did.

 


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