Are you going on a family or activity holiday or having a weekend break? May be you are thinking about taking a gap year or making a once-in-a-lifetime round-the-world trip. Have you planned a touring holiday (by bike, car, on horseback) or a visit to a remote part of the world? Whatever it is, why not write a travel journal to record all of those special moments and experiences?
A travel journal is not only fun to write – it will also be great in the future to recall those memories that would have otherwise faded and disappeared.
A good old-fashioned note book or a blog?
If you typically travel with a laptop or tablet and you want to be able to share your experiences on the go, then set up a blog. If, however, you yearn to scribble in a lovely old-fashioned note book or journal then you will find plenty to choose from both online and in stationery shops.
Choose one that you can easily carry around (you don’t want anything too bulky and heavy). Go for hard backed if you think you will do most of your writing away from a desk or table and make sure it opens out flat – it is very hard to write in a notebook which keeps trying to close. Many travel journals have blank pages but if you find it hard to write on a blank page then choose one with lines (or squares – definitely my preference).
When to write your travel journal
One of the great things about going on holiday or travelling is that you are free from the daily routine. This does mean however, that if you are serious about writing a travel journal, you may have to grab any opportunity you can for writing. If writing early in the morning or writing late in the evening is not for you then look for other moments during the day when you could scribble a few lines. For example, waiting for a bus, passing time on a train or plane journey, sitting in a cafe or waiting for a meal to be served in a restaurant, standing in a queue, sitting on a park bench or perched on top of a mountain.
What to write about in your travel journal
Don’t just make a boring list of what you did – ‘I did this, then I did that, then I went there’. By all means make a note of the date and place but then look around you and write about what you can see – the buildings, the colours, the surroundings, the food, the traffic, the people, the hustle and bustle.
Sit in a cafe and watch the people go by – what do they look like, what are they wearing, what snippets of conversations do you overhear, what language(s) or dialects are they speaking?
Are there any local delicacies or specialities you are tempted to try, what type of produce is available in the markets or on the streets, what do the street vendors have to offer?
Make a note of the smells and sounds, observe how people get around and how this differs to home – all of these details help to define the unique character of a place or country.
Write about something you have experienced which is unusual, quirky, out of the ordinary, off-the-wall, eccentric, bizarre or just plain weird. Write about a place you visited off the usual tourist trail. If you are lucky enough to experience a rare or one-off event or celebration write down what it felt like to be there and what made the experience special.
Talk to people
Talking to people can be as simple as exchanging a few words in a shop or a bar or it could be some one you meet and engage in a longer conversation. When you sit down to write, try to recall what you talked about, describe what the person looked like, how they talked, how they made you feel, whether there was anything special or unusual about them.
Don’t just write what you can find in any guide book. It is your own experiences and interactions with the people and places you visit that will make your travel journal unique.