This post is written by guest blogger Jane Ellis. Jane loves traveling and sharing with others information about her journeys and adventures. Her work has been published on many different sites, including the Huffington Post and AOL Travel.
When you’re on an adventure in a new destination, all of your five senses come alive. You’re likely to see, hear, taste, smell and even feel things that are so unique that you’re sure you’ll never forget them. But chances are that the next day of your journey will also be filled with incredible experiences, as will the next. And soon those vivid pictures you’ve captured in your mind will start to fade and run together like a watercolor painting left out in the rain. That is one of the reasons why I journal while traveling.
The First Journal
I received my first journal from a tour operator who I had worked with on creating a customized trip to Botswana and Zimbabwe for me, my son, my daughter, my friend, and her son and daughter. Although I had never used a travel journal before, I dutifully threw the paperback into my bag. And in the end, I was very thankful that I did. Why?
Because as it turned out, between the jet lag, the time difference and all of the unique sights we witnessed while on safari, the days and moments quickly began to blur. From tasting mopane worms to watching a lone lioness trying to attack a hippo — something our guide said he had never seen before — our trip was simply amazing. I would say that it was also completely unforgettable, but after looking through my journal, I realized that there were so many things that had faded from my memory. There was the afternoon, for example, when the girls, who were elementary-school age, played tea party on the safari lodge room’s patio. Then there was the sight of our tween boys laughing half in fear, half in wonder as a young bull elephant chased after our jeep.
Thankfully, I had jotted those memories down in that little journal. To this day, my now-grown children still love looking through the well-worn pages of this book and reminiscing about the many incredible sights they had witnessed while in Africa.
Journals and Journeys
Since that time, I have used journals, both paper and, now, digital, on all of my journeys. Because I travel frequently, journaling not only helps me to remember those easy-to-forget small details, but it also allows me to keep track of the different accommodations and vendors that I have used or sites that I have visited. This can be especially helpful when friends or family members ask for help planning trips to destinations that I have visited before.
Journaling for Self-Discovery
Journaling can also be a tool for self-discovery. Exploring the world, especially in developing countries or on volunteer missions, can stir up emotions and thoughts that you might find troubling. During a trip to Uganda, my daughter and I visited Gulu, an area that had been hard hit by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Jotting down my thoughts and experiences into a journal actually became a coping device that helped me to deal with the terrible poverty and devastation that we were seeing.
And on a totally different note, I used a journal in Costa Rica during a Happiness and Yoga workshop to help capture the ideas being offered during the retreat and to also record my thoughts on what I was experiencing. Two completely different trips, but on both occasions, journaling really became an important aspect of each journey.
Keeping Up the Practice
In truth, there will be days during your travels when you won’t want to journal. You’ll return from your day tired and ready to hit your hotel bed. And as you close your eyes for the night, you will probably promise yourself to journal in the morning. But chances are that you will hit the ground running the next morning and forget about journaling, and with each passing minute, another memory will dim. So it’s important that you take the time to jot down — even if it’s not in complete thoughts — the key highlights and feelings from your day into a digital journal.
Later, when you have more time, you can then easily edit or expand upon those thoughts. Ease of editing is, in fact, one of the beauties of a digital journal. Another plus? Some digital journals also allow you to incorporate pictures into your narrative. And as the old saying goes, a picture is worth 1,000 words, especially when it comes to creating a memorable travel journal.
Do you have a designated travel journal? What value have you gotten out of it? Leave a comment below and be sure to subscribe to future posts.