For someone who loves to write, I have a horrible history of travel journaling. I love the idea of it. The plan to record memories in a permanent book sounds so great in theory. But when I put the concept into practice, I’m notorious for failing.
Here’s a typical scenario and why I lack the ability to successfully journal as I travel. I start out with a pristine journal that I’m always really excited about filling with amazing travel tales. For the first few days I make time to write in it. I record every detail- all the stories, and experiences. But then our trip gets busy and I get tired. I skip a night of journaling. And then two. The next time I find time to write I feel like I need to go back and start where I left off- rather than pick up with the current day.
Before I know it, I’ve returned home from a fabulous trip with lots of memories, but very little journal content. Occasionally, I go back and try to fill in the vacation days post trip. However more often than not, I just move on completely. This situation repeats itself almost every time!
Unfortunately, I’m seeing the same pattern in my children. I have encouraged them to keep travel scrapbooks (journals) and despite having awesome intentions- the perfectionist gene rules our actions. I’ve heard excuses from the kids that they want to wait for me to print out pictures to fill in the journals. Or that they forgot a specific name of something and so therefore they don’t want to write any details. My daughter even tossed out an entire book because she used the eraser so many times there were holes filling the pages.
In an attempt to overcome our travel journaling shortcomings, I’ve tried to think outside the box and come up with some easy ways to consistently record our memories. While I document travel very differently than my children, I really think the tips can work for anyone! It’s all about finding what works for you and doing your best to be consistent.
Tips For Travel Journaling:
- Outline As You Go: As I mentioned, sometimes when I’m traveling I don’t make time to journal. Although there are a million stories and memories rolling through my head, putting pen to paper isn’t always convenient. We’ve started using journal pages to make outlines of the day- we write down quick key words that prompt memories. And then we skip a page to allow room to fill in later. Sometimes taking the pressure off of documenting our entire day allows us the freedom to record quick memories and even do a more thorough job writing about it later.
- Go Electronic: This tip is more for older children and adults rather than young children. And, it’s turned into my travel journaling technique of choice. Start a blog (you can get a free one via blogspot.) Even if you never intend for anyone else to read it- it’s a great way to record and organize your travel memories. The great thing (for perfectionists like myself) about electronic journaling is that you can always go back and add. And you can make mistakes and use the backspace key to correct them.
- Collect Momentos: Save ticket stubs, airline tickets, bus passes and any other paper record you collect along your trip. These make great starter subjects for your travel journaling pages. My kids enjoy gluing them to the top of the page and then writing about whatever experience corresponds.
- Stamps & Stickers: Often when you travel you can pick up free stickers at events, restaurants and activities. I always encourage my children to save them for their travel journals. Likewise, some places- like National Parks- offer a free stamp. We collect our National Park Stamps in a separate journal (read about it here); however, if you could just as easily stamp your travel journal.
- Postcards: I mentioned earlier that my children are sometimes reluctant to fill up the pages in their travel journal because they want to wait for me to print out pictures. Postcards are inexpensive and found almost everywhere. Allowing your children to select a couple postcards during your travels can give them great illustrations for their words- and it allows them to journal as you go rather than attempting to do it all when you return home and print out pictures.
- Subject Ideas: Not all travel journaling needs to be in story form. Often when my children don’t want to take the time to record every detail, I give them inspiration in the form of a specific topic. Ask them to write about the weather that particular day. Have them jot down everything they ate. Or write about a person they met and talked to. Even mundane topics (such as weather) can be fabulous ways to preserve travel memories.
Most of all- enjoy it! And take the time to look back on some of your past records. I’m always inspired to spend more time travel journaling when I reminisce over past travels I’ve documented!
How do you document your travels?
If you enjoyed these tips, you might also like my post about Chronicling Family Trips.