Before I tout the benefits of having a physical travel journal, I’m going to be straightforward and mention that I’ve kept a journal since I was 15 (and off and on again before that). There’s something really special for me sitting down after a day of walking around and immersing myself in a new culture and being able to write out how I’m feeling. There are a lot of benefits of keeping a journal in general, but I think travelers can benefit even more so from keeping a record of their journeys.
I’ve kept an online travel blog for years now, but I’m always happy to have my personal journal where I can think about my own experiences traveling. Having a blog is a much more public thing (even when you feel like no one else is reading it) than writing some private thoughts. For me, travel can be an extremely personal thing. My thoughts and how I have viewed the world have drastically changed from exploring the world. Taking some time to articulate in writing how I see each destination has been an integral part of how I understand cultural differences.
It’s also a fun way to keep everything in order. After a few years of traveling, I started to feel as though buying souvenirs was too much for me to carry around—and that I wanted some other way to commemorate where I had been without accumulating more stuff. Instead, I chose to purchase small things that I could stick in my journal. Whether it was a map from a road trip or tickets to a museum, I began to glue them in as ways to remember where I had been and what stuck out to me on my travels.
So how do you begin putting together a physical journal? The good news is that it is mostly up to you and how you want to express yourself and your travels. I personally have a used a Moleskin journal for years now. It’s light and easy to take around, and it has a pocket in the back that allows me to store any ticket stubs or postcards that I manage to pick up as I go along. The good thing is that you can choose any journal that you like or that fits in your luggage.
I also tend to bring along a package of Sharpies. I’m not a great artist, but it is fun to transpose some of the patterns and designs I tend to see on the road. It also adds some color and makes it more fun to read later. Looking back, it’s cool to see how a place might have changed your perspective and what you picked up while you were there.
For me, keeping a journal is an inspiring thing. I tend to add some quotes from things I’m reading relating to travel or some of my favorite thoughts from fiction. I’ve noticed how much I’ve grown as a person by looking back on some of my old entries and thinking about how my perspective has changed. Tracking those changes has made me feel accountable for treating our world better, and for trying to be more understanding as I go from place to place. It’s also something I know I will look back on once I get older and be happy I have in order to revive old memories and experiences I’ve had while on my journey around the world.
How about you? Do you have a physical travel journal? How do you remember your travels?