Think about the NIKE slogan - Just Do It!
How often have you come home from a warm winter vacation or an epic road-trip and thought to yourself,’ I wish I’d kept a Journal on that trip!’ It’s not too late to pick up that sentiment and run with it in this New Year.
I’ve ben keeping Travel Journals for years – and in some very out-of-the-way places. So I know a few things about what works and what can help you get started and keep going. To that end, I’ve distilled down some of that experience in the following 7-step plan for you to get yourself going.
At the end of your travels (and far into the future) you will thank you younger self for doing this!
A quick sketch-map of your campsite can make a wonderful entry in your Journal!
Step 1: Understand the Benefits of a Travel Journal
From the outset, you’ll be much more inclined to keep a Travel Journal if you’re clear (and perhaps a bit selfish - in a good way) about, ‘What’s in it for me.’
Think of your Journal as a kind of Time Capsule that holds different ‘episodes’ of your life. That way, you’ll be less intimidated than if you set yourself an overwhelming task such as to write a Memoir.
So, here’s what you’ll get by keeping a Journal when you travel:
- More memories. The mere act of writing things down and/or making a few sketches will help you capture more of your rich memories
- Better/clearer memories. Keeping a Journal has a tendency to ‘embed’ your memories and they will be clearer years into the future
- Sense of accomplishment. There is nothing quite like the feel of your completed Travel Journal to let you know you’ve done something of real value and meaning
- Stronger creative spirit. You’ll find that your writing skills will improve and your sketching skills will improve too
- More engaged travel experience. Keeping a Journal often causes you to ‘pause’ and think/see your experiences in new ways and of with more insight
- A legacy that will reveal your keen sense of observation and your thoughtful insights.
Random Travel Journal pages that help me recall all the wonderful and exciting details from my time out there hiking, canoeing, or on a warm winter vacation!
Step 2: Choose the Right Journal
There are a few things to keep in mind when selecting a Journal for your travels:
- Pick something that feels good in your hands - that way, you’ll be more inclined to pick it up and make those written entries and little sketches
- If you select something coil-bound, it will easily fold back on itself and take up less room
- Choosing a Journal measuring roughly 6”x8” will help keep your kit small and manageable
- Journals with watercolour paper will generally be more durable than multimedia and a simple sketch pad
- Try to keep your Journal page-count to about 20 pages. This way the size of the Journal won’t overwhelm you
Step 3: Assemble the right Travel Journal Kit.
Over your travels, you’ll find that your ‘KIT’ becomes more and more customized to your skills, interests, and needs. In the meantime, follow the LINK here to my short and simple YouTube series that will guide you through every step to assemble a KIT that has all 3 important characteristics - small, light weight, and cost-effective.
NOTE – I’ve assembled this KIT list from my years of experience travelling everywhere from the Canadian Arctic to the Yellowstone River in Montana and the warm beaches of the Big Island of Hawaii.
On my YouTube Channel (at 'Travel Journal 101' - check it out) I've made a series of short videos to help you assemble the perfect KIT for you.
Step 4: Develop a Journaling Routine
Generally, you’ll find that you’re more inclined to make entries in your Journal or to add little sketches if you set aside a regular time to do just that.
If you’re a morning person, think about siting with your morning coffee and making notes from the previous day’s activities. If you’re a night owl, use that time to do the same.
Remember that keeping a Journal isn’t supposed to be a JOB….so always keep it fun and relaxing while working to bring it some consistency.
What was it that Shakespeare said, 'Play's the thing...' You want to finish your travels with a great Journal - but you want it to be fun too!
Step 5: Capture Memories Through Words and Images
There are so many ways to capture the meaningful parts of your travel.
Keep in mind the following ‘prompts’ as a start:
- Use your 5 senses as a trigger for what to write
- People - travel mates, tour guides, new friends etc.
- Places - monuments, landscape views, etc.
- Occasions - special meals, ticketed events, flash mob, etc.
- Travel/weather/changing geography
- Remember that you can add things to your Journal too - glue in a transit ticket or wine label (remember to write something about that item and why it was important to include it)
- Finally, keep in mind that you can add other details once you’re home all safe and sound
Imagine the sense of accomplishment you will feel when you finish your travels and see and feel the wonderful Journal you've kept!
Step 6: Reflect and Connect Emotionally
Travel is often an act of bravery - getting out of your element/routine. Equally important, it’s often a reflection of your curious nature.
As you travel, think about how you ‘feel’ about what you’re seeing and experiencing and about whom you’re meeting. Ask yourself if your views are changing, if you’re seeing the world a little differently, if your traditional views are beginning to shift with your new travel experiences, foods you’re trying, and cultural ways that are playing out before you as you travel.
I’m going to argue that travel, inherently, makes you a different person…and, more often than not, it makes you a better person too! Your Journal entries will begin to reveal that.
Quick sketches and brief travel notes help you take an important 'pause' in your hectic travel days.
Step 7: Share Your Journey with Others
When you’re back home safe and sound, perhaps give some thought to sharing your travel experiences. People love to live vicariously…and, at the same time, there are many people who are simply unable to travel for one reason or another.
- Share your travels at a Staff Meeting
- Share your experiences at a Rotary Club meeting or with a Church group
- Gather some of your favorite scenes into a Travel Photo Book - always be sure to use your Journal entries to write great captions for each image
- Think about re-printing some of your little sketches as Note Cards
By following these seven simple steps, every traveler (yes, even YOU) can embark on their very own journaling journey with confidence, knowing they have a friendly, informal, and authoritative guide.
On January 9, 2024 from 4:00-5:00pm (PST) I'll be giving a free Workshop on how to start your very own Travel Journal. This is a ZOOM Workshop, and I'll be sure to leave lots of time for Q and A. Here's the LINK to get yourself registered today.
Finally, there is lots more to learn at www.traveljournal101.com
You can also get lots of tips and tricks (and lots of encouragement too) by joining the private Facebook Group at: Travel Journal 101