Why Bother Keep A Travel Journal?
Is there a point in keeping a travel journal? What do you journal about when travelling? Learn why it makes sense to and how to journal when you're on the move.
I've just returned from four weeks in the Caribbean followed by a four- day stay at Centre Parcs in the UK. On both occasions I had a great time but got to think about the reasons why keeping a travel journal when travelling makes good travel sense.
Journaling when travelling can become a deeper sensory record of your travels and experience. Writing whilst on the go can be a perfect way of remaining open to the experiences travelling throws your way. When you travel you see the world and your environment through different eyes. Often you’re more perceptive, on the look-out for new and different things than you’re use to back home, even inquisitive in a way that can get lost back at home. Whilst a photo can capture a slice of a moment, in the same breath by taking the photo you put a stop to you actually being present in the moment you're so eager to capture.
So much good stuff happened on my four weeks away in the Caribbean that would be forgotten had it not been for the writing and sharing I carved time out to jot down in my journal. Through the intimacy of writing about my experiences even if captured in a few lines I have my own personal memoir of my travels and time away. When we travel we go on not just an outer journey but an inner journey too. Journaling can naturally bring the two journeys together.
Travels journal come to life when you engage with them like scrapbooks. Archiving the dinner receipt for the lovely lobster meal or retelling the tale on the page of the forty baby turtles you saved (that was me, my sister and a friend this year in Barbados) and returned to the sea will be well remembered now the tale has a home of the page as one of the most memorable moments from our time away.
It’s real easy to look but not see, as it is to hear but not really listen. Travel can coax you out of the coma of everyday living and invite you to wake up and smell the flowers. So how about putting the camera aside and instead interact with your travel journal and leave behind the many snaps you weren’t fully connected to in the first place.
Next step is to slow your pace right down. Drawing what you see is a great way to find a slower groove whilst travelling. Start by drawing an object in front of you, then move to sights and scenes around you or sketch outlines of new people you meet. I love Danny Gregory’s book, The Creative License http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Creative-License-Yourself-Permission/dp/1401307922 for ideas on how draw. I never tire of reading that book one more time and it’s beautifully illustrated. You might also like his new online venture Sketch Book Skool http://sketchbookskool.com/ for more drawing and sketching inspiration on the go.
There are so many easy ways to bring your travels alive on the page. You could capture snatches of conversations that tickled you or made you smile. You never know when a line or two may come in handy in the future or make someone smile.
Get really creative. Draw or write in coloured pens. Stick maps and other images into the journal. Use stickers and smiley faces. Travel often brings out the child within.
Travel has the potential to take you out of your comfort zones. Being exposed to new environments and living spaces, new people and places can be de-stabilising. The over stimulation and so many places to see and things to do can heave you into an almost out of the body experiences. Journaling calms you down, reins you in and helps you focus one thing at a time.
Get present when you travel. Comment in your journal on how the different spaces or sites you visit makes you feel. Have you noticed how different spaces have a different energetic feel? Many people find travelling liberating. For others travel may stretch you outside your comfort zone. Use your journal to notice how you respond when faced with unfamiliar foods or dishes, customs and traditions or ways of doing things. How do you react? How does your reaction stack up against how you might respond back home? Notice what things you react strongly to or make assumptions about.
Travelling is a great way of learning about yourself and getting to know yourself better. Exploring your responses to questions like this in your journal will help you not only keep your feet on the ground but bring a deeper meaning to your experience.
If you feel at a loss at what to write about when travelling here are some more prompts to enhance your journey:
- Get creative with your travel journal by changing the direction of your writing, write landscape instead of horizontal.
- Play around and write in larger script if your script is normally quite small.
- Write upside or write your travel journal entries at the back of your notebook or journal.
- Add collages to your pages and collect visual journal entries
- Write a letter or postcard to your best friend in your journal telling them as much as you can about your travels so far.
- At the start of your holiday or travels journal the reasons for your trip? What are you hoping to get out of your trip, physically and emotionally? What are you looking forward to? How are you hoping to feel? What would make your travel worth every minute? What are you most anxious about and why?
- For three days in a row describe the weather each day and imagine that what you write will be read aloud to someone who does not have sight. How can you bring your weather reports to life?
- Travel journals are like visual photo albums what you write creates pictures and memories of your own. You might be inspired to share your travel journal with others in person or share samples of your journal on social media.
- Invite new people you meet on your travels to either draw or write a message in your journal. What a lovely keepsake that will make?
- Keep a sensory journal of your travels. Make a note of colours, sounds that make their mark around you, touch things and describe the texture of things you touch. Make the moment come alive for yourself and others.
- Too tired to spend time writing about your day then make a list under headings of what sticks out most and what you most want to remember from your travels. Lists are perfectly legitimate journal entries.
- Stick a map of your destination in your journal or on the front and back cover. Mark or write about the places you'd most like to remember and why?
- If you were to return to this destination sometime In the future write or list the places or sites you'd love to re-visit.
- Take your most enjoyable moment from your holiday and write it out in your journal in the form of a song or a poem.
- If you’re travelling internationally or to another country or continent what was it like handling the currency of your destination? Did you like the currency? Stick one of the paper notes into your journal or trace over the faces and backs of the coins straight onto your journals pages.
“To lose a passport was the least of one’s worries. To lose a notebook was a catastrophe writes Brenda Peterson in her book, ‘Your Life Is A Book.’ I have to say I agree. A travel journal may be the most precious possession you bring back from your next round of travels or holidays.
I love journals and journaling and I really love teaching my on line journal writing course, Paper Therapy which starts on September 28th. Paper Therapy will take you on a guided, interactive/multi media journey of journaling introducing you to a host of journal writing activities for personal reflection and self-transformation.