Writing a travel journal wasn’t something that I’d done before this year however I got really into journalling on my last trip and now I’m completely converted to keeping one. Writing in a journal while I was away was great for so many reasons. I loved making myself take the time to gather my thoughts, write down funny stories and stick in things like train tickets and cards from places that I’d been to. What originally started out as a way to fill spare time in cafes actually got really addictive, not to mention it’s been a great to look back on my trip: It’s amazing how much you forget about what you’ve done, even in a couple of weeks.
When it comes to journalling, social media sites like Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest are packed full of travel and art journal ideas and inspiration however it’s important to not get too precious with it. There’s no one way to keep a travel journal and everyone’s own one will reflect their personality, their passions and interests. So, whether you fancy starting an art journal, a line a day book, more or a diary or even a little bit of everything, just remember that your travel journal should be something that you do just for you; no one else has to look in it if you don’t want them to.
If you’ve never given travel journalling a go, it can be daunting to know where to start and what to write in it so I thought I’d write a quick post with a few tips to get you started.
Here’s how to write a travel journal:
Don’t get hung up on making it perfect
It can be so hard to get over the pressure of perfectionism when it comes to travel journalling but try to avoid the urge to start over if you feel like it doesn’t look quite how you wanted it to. Tumblr might be full of aesthetically beautiful journals but don’t get hung up on making your journal perfect: Travelling will never allow for it. A real life travel journal will get battered in your backpack, it might have scruffy writing from when you wrote by torch-light in a dark hostel dorm room, it might have phone numbers and addresses scrawled at the bottom of one of the pages because it was the only bit of paper you could find: A real travel journal is an honest representation of your trip, not an application for art school.
Don’t force yourself to write in it everyday
One of the main reasons I’d never taken up travel journalling before was because I thought I’d have to write in it everyday and this really put me off. In reality, you’ll be way too busy having fun, travelling from one place to another or just out there making memories that you won’t give your journal a second thought and that’s totally fine. Instead just write in it when you have the chance, you can always reflect over the last few days. If you force yourself to write daily when you don’t feel like it you’ll just resent the whole thing. A good tip is to try to include the date and location at the top of the page each time you write, this way it doesn’t matter when you write in it.
Remember that you don’t have to write pages and pages
Don’t feel like you have to write a full account of your day when you sit down to write, even a couple of sentences about what you’ve done, a small sketch or a quick note about how you’re feeling is enough.
Write about your feelings as well as what you’ve done
Writing all about what you’ve done on your trip and what you’re going to is a great way to remember your travels but try to write about how you’re feeling too. This is something that I didn’t really do much when I first started writing in my journal but looking back, it’s those personal entires that are the most interesting to me now. Remember that no one else needs to read this journal but you and it’s a great way to reflect when you’re away and after you get home.
Get creative with it
A travel journal is meant to be fun so get crazy with it. Try doing a few drawings, write in multi coloured pens, stick in photos or tickets or decorate the pages with a whole load of washi tape (my personal favourite). Remember that you can always decorate your journal when you get home if you don’t want to carry everything around with you. Your travel journal should reflect your own crazy personality and yours alone.
Make note of useful information
On a practical level journalling has been a great way for me to keep note important information about my trip that I might want to remember at a later date. This can be things like the name of a cafe that I liked, the prices of a hostel that I stayed in, how I got from one place to another or even just the names of travellers I’ve met. This way if you’re trying to remember something from your trip, chances are you might have it written in your journal which saves you having to trawl the web for answers.
Write for your future self
One of the reasons journalling is so fascinating is because moments are frozen in time. Writing down your aspirations, your thoughts and feelings is a fantastic way to set goals for the future and looking back over what you’ve written can remind yourself of what those goals are if you ever feel a little lost.
My travel journal has proved a fantastic way for me to remember all of the adventures that I’ve had while I’ve been away, Looking back over my own journal transports me back to where I was when I wrote it. It’s crazy how many of the little things from our travels that we forget and I love reading back over the things I’ve done, reading about how I feeling and remembering the people I’ve met. Travelling changes us and sometimes coming home after doing so much and feeling so different, it can be surprising that everything back home is still the same. While photos and souvenirs are great ways to commemorate your trip, a travel journal is so much better because every amazing thing that happened to you was real and it’s all down there on paper.
A quick guide on Picking your travel journal
Your travel journal is something that’s intensely personal to you so it’s important that you pick a notebook that you love the look of. It may sound trivial but picking a journal that you just love will make you so much keener to write in it.
Depending on what kind of person you are, you’ll have different needs for your journal. If you’re more of a writer then you’ll probably want to get a lined one however if you’d prefer to keep an art journal with only a small bit of writing then you might want to look at sketchbooks or a book with blank pages instead. My own one is from the Rifle Paper Company because I love all of their designs. My book has a mixture of both lined pages to write on and blank pages for drawings and scrapbooking.
Decorating your journal
It’s worth investing in some nice pens to write with and anything else you might want to decorate the pages with. I have an obsession with buying washi tape to stick in my journal whenever I see one I like and I usually bring my pocket watercolour set with me when I travel so I can do a few sketches in my book too. If you have a Polaroid camera then why not stick a few of those photos in or cut out some clippings from magazines. Remember when it comes to journalling, anything goes.