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Your Travel Journal and the Sense of Smell…

Blog Diary Journal Memoir Sense of Smell Smell Travel Diary Travel Journal


Capturing Your 5 Senses

Your Travel Journal and the Sense of Smell

 I’ve always been a big proponent of using all of your senses when doing a Travel Journals. In reality, it’s a very simple way to add such wonderful character to your descriptions of the places you’ve visited, meals you’ve enjoyed, and so much more. Maybe just pause for a moment and think about how you might describe the smell of that warm evening sea breeze as you relaxed in your tropical rental.

One of the tricks here is that you don’t have to make up a big long description to capture the sense. Instead, when you’re just starting out, maybe think of using a point-form approach to get at what you’re experiencing.

I remember, one day, when we were on a long distance canoe trip and we’d stopped at Rocky Mountain House Historic Site for a meal. On the short walk back to the canoes on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, I was overwhelmed by the sweet sweet smell of some kind of flower.


Pulling the big 26’ Voyageur canoes to the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, we could see the shoreline was covered with some sort of river willow.


A photo of Wolf Willow blossoms along the North Saskatchewan River.

I’d smelled lots of flowers before, but this was dramatically different. The aroma filled the air and just kind of lay heavy across the trail as we walked along. It only took me a few moments to find out that the sweet aroma came from a tight mass of Wolf Willow in full bloom along the riverbank.

I’d heard of Wolf Willow before (Wallace Stegner’s book, Wolf Willow for example), but I’d never experienced how rich that scent was as it filled the air.

Now, I will probably always remember that experience - but I have to admit, that I believe it will remain even more clear, more vivid, because I took a brief moment to pause and put that experience into my paddle journal. A little while later, I used a photo I’d taken of the Wolf Willow flower and did a small pencil and watercolour sketch of the flower… that too is part of keeping those travel memories rich and alive.

My Travel Journal watercolour sketch of that Wolf Willow blossom.

What I’ve said here about the sense of smell with the Wolf Willow could be mirrored in the sense of smell of a wildly tasty meal as we paddled for a month down the MacKenzie River in the Canadian Arctic. It had been a long LONG hard day of paddling in the wilderness, and the meal that evening was spectacular.

One of our many shoreline camping spots on the MacKenzie River in the Canadian Arctic.


We dried the bulk of the food we took with us on the MacKenzie River trip.

Sure, it was a simple affair, but the setting on the river bank, the hard day’s work, the fact that another crew member had made the meal for our entire crew all combined to make that meal taste even more special! I’m sure you know the feeling. 

So always remember to invoke all your senses when you’re making entries in your Travel Journal. The sense of smell is an obvious one and easy one to start with.

To help with the challenge of ‘what to include’ in your Travel Journal, I’ve attached a link here to a PDF that I’ve put together to help you build that framework and get you going. Years from now, you’ll never regret having kept a Travel Journal, and your descriptions will be so much richer if you pay attention to your 5 senses…..and your 6th sense too, for that matter!

Email me to let me know how I can help you get going on setting up your very own Travel Journal. Tell me what your biggest barriers are, and I’ll help you overcome them.

Go ahead and click this link to download you framework on Travel Journal ‘content’!



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