The Ultimate Guide to Travel Journaling
One of the few things I regret from my time travelling is the day I stopped keeping a travel journal. I have never kept a diary and after four months on the road writing every little detail and then transcribing bits onto Facebook for friends and family back home, I realised that my journal was keeping me instead of vice versa. So I stopped.
As much as I treasure the memories from the years of travel that followed, I often wish I had recorded the little details, the best stories and the self-discoveries. My memory comes and goes and many a time I wished I could instantly recall the name of a place or amazing food for a friend heading in that direction.
So I have gathered some different ways you could record your trip. There is something for everyone: the artist, the writer, the” tell the world” type. Hopefully you will look back at your travels and remember the good times in the years to come. With one of these options those memories will be just a little more detailed and easy to access.
If you’re an arty type I suggest taking a small sketchbook and pencil. It doesn’t take up much room and is easily replaced. The only downside is they can be destroyed if they get wet.
Sketching forces you to really appreciate the moment and to take a step back from the mad rush that can be international travel. Sketching can often be a conversation starter as friendly locals will approach you to see what you are doing. You don’t need to be a skilled artist to keep a sketch diary. You could use stick figures, copy maps, or draw only one subject (like hotel rooms or flowers). Just remember to write the location and date on the back and you will find the drawings jog your memory for years to come.
From artistically laid out scrap books to ticket stubs added to diaries to an envelope full of random keepsakes with places and dates scrawled on them, these authentic little pieces of a country are great mementos. Makes sure to keep all of your tickets, receipts, maps, menus and keepsakes etc. They can add up quickly so I would suggest posting your scrapbook diary home every few months so you don’t end up carrying all that paper.
Diary or Specialist Travel Journal:
You don’t need to be an avid writer to keep a written record of your trip. A more traditional diary can be used for a one line a day summery of where you are. Or you could choose to record only one aspect of your trip, for example a world tour describing only new and interesting food. If you would like a little more guidance there are lots of funky specialist travel diaries out there with prompts and fill in the blank options to get you started. Here is an article recommending a few options: http://www.trip-logic.com/6-unique-travel-journals/
Blank pages have always called to me. If you enjoy writing then a simple notebook is all you need. I still flip back through my journals from time to time, from the ridiculous stories to the blurry pages where I got caught out in a monsoon, these are a slice of life from another time and I wish I had kept up with them.
Whether you like to write free flow or like a bit more structure, to stop your journal from getting away from you, I suggest you have a think about what you will want a record of before you go on your trip. Do you want to focus on what you saw? Or how it made you feel? Do you want to tell the funny stories? Include details? Names of places are a must but will you look back and want to know what it cost? What you ate? Think about what will be important to you and what will jog your memory when you go back and look at your journal.
There are more and more photo diaries and blogs popping up and they are very effective for evoking the feel of a place. But, with this technology there are a few things to consider. If you want to use this style of recording you need to commit to editing your photos as you go as well assorting and naming the files so you can remember what’s what later on. If you are happy with this commitment then this is one of the most effective ways to share your trip with others, just keep in mind that there is more to it than just taking the occasional snap.
To start do yourself a favour and set up the time/date stamp on your camera so you will know when each photo was taken. Also invest in automatic cloud back up storage on your camera or computer just in case your equipment is damaged or stolen.
Blogs are the thing right now, hell you may even be able to make money off your travel stories. They are a quick and easy way of communicating you travel stories to your friends and family back home en mass, you can include as many photos and anecdotes as you want and you can use free design templates easily available online.
Here are some things to consider though:
Your audience…If you make a public blog anyone can read it so your thoughts and feelings are out there for anyone to find. This includes future employers and your granny. Sometimes you want to record stories that are not necessarily appropriate for public consumption.
Internet…This is becoming less of an issue but at some stage in your travel you need to be aware that you will not have an internet connection, power to charge your laptop etc. Do all the blog set-up before you leave home so you have time to work out the kinks and allow time in your posting schedule for the fact that you may be away from your computer or internet for weeks at a time.
This is one of my personal tricks. Instead of competing with other tourists for the best camera angle at popular sites, I spend my time taking it all in, wandering around and really enjoying this thing I came half way around the world to see. On the way out I stop at the gift shop and purchase a postcard with the perfect picture on it, write a few lines about the experience on it and mail it to myself. When I get home there is a little stack of memories waiting for me all perfectly postmarked from all over the world and ready to be made into a little travel book.
In this world of modern technology the internet has provided us with lots of quick, easy ways to communicate with our loved ones. Often online travel journals include both public and private blogs, photos, easy to follow maps and the ability to print it out in book form once you return home. Using something like this is a great way to communicate with your family back home without them freaking out if you don’t call by a certain time or email back immediately. The down side, like all things technological, is that you will need a computer and internet connection regularly and sometimes travel style just doesn’t allow for this convenience. However for those of you who will be online, here are some of my favourite options:
Closely associated with online travel journal sites there are tons of travel apps to choose from. They generally have a certain specialty (e.g. photo journaling) or a little less detail than their online counterparts but are designed to work specifically from your smartphone. Some even include booking aspects or geo markers whenever you log on, which can help reassure folks back home. Only thing is to make sure you understand your international roaming charges or your phone could quickly rack up data charges you weren’t expecting. Here are a few apps to check out:
If you don’t want to get as fancy as a dedicated travel blog or you’re only going to be away for a short stretch, just stick to your existing social media preferences. Regular tweets or Instagram posts can keep the folks back home in the loop. I even blogged directly into Facebook notes for a while. The advantage is its right there in your friends feed without them having to follow a new site. The disadvantage is it’s more about sharing your travels than keeping a record for you to look back on. If you are traveling for a long period of time I would recommend a more permanent solution so you don’t have to back up the info you want to look back on. If you’re only going for a few weeks, stick with your favourite social network or sign up for Hootsuite where you can send out you stories to all your networks at once.
So there you have it, 10 different ways to record your travel adventures, whether you only have a minute or love to write, photograph and record everything you see. I hope there is something here to inspire you to keep a record of your travels.
Author of Stress Free Adventure Planning
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