When I was sixteen years old and about to embark on my first trip overseas to London, England, my Grandma gave me a present. This present was a journal, a journal for me to keep track of everything I saw and did while I was traveling. At the time, I didn’t realize the significance of a travel journal but now after years of travel to some pretty exotic and foreign places, I am so thankful I have continuously kept one.
So what did sixteen year old Amie have to say whilst traveling with her Grandma and sister in England? I probably wouldn’t remember important moments such as this, “Unfortunately, there was the absolute most annoying group of Spanish-speaking (major idiots) that were extremely loud and arrogant.” I also wouldn’t remember that my Grandma had to try on every single coat in every single store in all of England. Apparently sixteen year old Amie was also obsessed with fake Chanel purses, wallets, and earrings and had a severe shopping addiction for the tackiest things known to man. Even though I chose to record some of the most insignificant things, I also wouldn’t remember a lot of the funny things that happened during our trip or specific locations we visited. I am also impressed that I wrote in my journal every single night… thankfully my skills have gotten better as well as my taste for clothing and accessories.
In 2010 I spent two weeks in Peru volunteering and traveling. I experienced a wide array of emotions as we worked in the shanty towns as I had never seen such levels of poverty in my entire life. Keeping a journal for travel was important but it was also important for me to be able to express my thoughts and feelings with what I was seeing in Peru at the time, even though it was only on paper. I remember feeling angry, confused, scared, sad, happy, thankful, love, and so much more. As I sit and read through my Peru journal, I can honestly feel all of those emotions again. I feel like it was yesterday, not almost four years ago. I remember making sure that I spent an hour every single night writing everything down because I knew it would be something I would look back on for the rest of my life.
So why keep a travel journal?
You’ll be able to remember the names of specific places you visited and people you met along the way. You’ll also be able to remember exact dates, such as when you left, how long you spent in each place, and when you came home. It can be therapeutic to talk about specific things that you felt or experienced while on the road, especially if you don’t feel like telling someone else. I think my favourite part is the fact that keeping a travel journal enables you to look back and see how you have grown over the years in regards to your writing skills and overall maturity. My journals have become significantly more detailed and longer as well as focusing on so more more than just places I visited. I love that I can look back and remember exactly how I felt on November 2, 2006 or June 8, 2010. It is also good to keep a journal incase people back home are interested in reading it, if you feel like sharing it with them. People always ask how your trip was and this could be a good way to really show them.
My advice for keeping a good journal…
First of all, always make sure you have one packed as an essential. Personally, I like to keep a journal in my carry-on incase I decide to write on the plane or I lose my luggage (knock on wood). I don’t ever want to feel like writing in my journal is going to be a chore, if it feels like that then don’t do it. If you feel like writing in it every single day is a bit excessive or unrealistic then don’t do that either. I lived in Australia for a whole entire year so I definitely didn’t write every single night, I chose to write once a week or every other week to keep things updated. I would try and reserve an hour every night for it but if that is too much then try every other night. I try to write at least two pages but if I don’t have enough to say and just want to get down the basics then I will write half of a page or one full page. Don’t push yourself, do it because you’re excited and you want to do it. Make sure you always record the date you’re writing and the country you’re in. Write down the names of the people you meet, the places you go, and the feelings and emotions you experienced. I think the most important thing to always remember is that you’re doing it for yourself and no one else so it doesn’t have to be perfect but it should be something you will want to read again and again.
If you’re planning a trip anywhere, hit up the dollar store and get yourself a journal. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive or special, you’re going to make it special anyways. If you know someone who is going away traveling and you don’t think they have a journal, it is the perfect gift. You won’t regret keeping track of all the amazing places you see, the incredible things you do, and the unbelievable people you meet along the way, so start writing.