Why I Travel Journal
I like to journal. I've been writing about my life with regularity since I was nine years old. And I make no exception when I travel. In fact, I journal even more while I'm on a trip than I do at home. Even though it can take up a lot of my time, I feel compelled to journal about my experiences on the road. Here are five reasons why:
1. I'm Writing for my Future Self.
As with any journal I've kept, I love being able to read about something I did and see it through the eyes of my past self. It not only brings me joy to relive a tip but re-reading old journals also helps me recall details I never would remember otherwise. It's been three years since my trip to Costa Rica and I don't think I could have remembered the names of all of the village tiendas if I hadn't been journaling about it.
While I tend to generally write about the details of the day, I also jot down other things that I'd like to remember. Things like pronunciation guides, songs I heard in specific places, the history of a site I visited, a little map of the area I walked in, or some interesting facts I read in a book. I'm always learning a lot of information about the new places I visit that I know would normally just disappear from my memory. Once it's on the page, the information won't get lost.
2. Writing is Cathartic.
When I'm having a crappy time somewhere, I will feel a lot better about it if I can write down every little thing that's bothering me. A drunk guy peed on the floor of the dorm room? The airline lost my luggage? I'm covered in ultra-itchy bed bug bites? You can bet I wrote some angry words about all of those things in my journals. It was much easier to let go of my frustrations once they were all written on the page.
3. It's a Scrapbook.
I don't know about you, but I like to hold onto every little ticket stub, brochure, map, paper with traveler contact info, business card, or flier that finds it's way into my hands. I always seem to end up with a pile of travel memorabilia in the bottom of my backpack - even after only a few days. Instead of just periodically throwing all of that nostalgia in the bin or keeping it in a messy pile somewhere, I long ago decided that the best thing to do with it is put it all in one accessible place. So: I glue them into that day's journal entry. Now my journals are like little diary-scrapbook hybrids. I like that pasting papers and tickets into my journal visually breaks up the pages upon pages of my sloppy handwriting. Not only that, but the scraps I paste in can further jog my memory back to a specific time or place.
4. I Can Waste Waiting Time.
Waiting is an inevitable part of traveling. Waiting for a flight/bus/train to leave? You can catch up on journaling. Not only that but I'll write once I get on that train, plane, or bus I'd waited for. Sometimes I've even found myself sitting & waiting for a hostel to open or a dorm room to be ready. That's journal time. I can always find the time to to write at least a little bit.
5. My Journal Becomes a Reference Source.
The more I've traveled, the more I've had relatives and friends ask me for information on places I've visited. All I have to do is flip through my journal from that trip to find names, locations, or directions. Oftentimes I'll also write down advice given to me by other travelers about places I haven't even been to yet. For example, when I was planning the New Zealand trip I remembered that I'd met a guy in Prague who'd done a Working Holiday. I then looked through my journals from Europe and found his recommendations.
All in all, I highly recommend journaling while you travel. Even if you've never journaled before, traveling is honestly the best time to do it. A travel journal is a unique and personal souvenir that will preserve your trip forever.