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It is not an uncommon sight while travelling to see a fellow tourist jotting away in a diary. But unless you’re Bill Bryson, most won’t publish their collection of ramblings, sketches, or ideas. So why write it at all? Well, writing a travel journal has a huge number of benefits and is probably one of the best ways to make the most of any journey.
Before and during your trip, you should always make a note of any important information you might need. This can be anything from travel insurance references and flight numbers, to the local embassy and emergency service contact details. A travel journal is a great way to keep all of this together in one handy place.
A natural consequence of writing about your trip is that you will naturally start to discuss details like how and when you will travel somewhere and where you might choose to stay. This can be in as much or as little detail as you like, leaving lots of space to improvise along the way, but a travel journal will inspire you to think ahead, as well as remind you of things you wanted to do and see upon reaching new destinations.
Travel has a way of bringing like-minded people together. This is largely because the people you are likely to meet already share your love of exploration. Consequently, it is common to form deep and personal friendships.
Sadly, many fail to flourish after a trip is over because we return to our respective homes and have no more contact with the people we met. One of the reasons for this is because we record one another’s details in our phones, alongside all the other contacts in our lives. The person becomes just another name among many and we have no incentive to contact them.
By recording people’s details in a travel journal, we are more likely to stay in touch or reach out after revisiting the diary sometime later. At the very least, noting their name and details of your adventures together in a journal will invoke nostalgia and great memories.
But travelling is about more than connecting with other people and places. It is also about connecting with yourself. When we write down our thoughts and experiences, we force ourselves to think about why we are doing what we are doing; we try to understand our motivations, why we like some things and avoid others, and find patterns in the things that bring us joy in life.
In this way, a travel journal acts as a mirror in which we can reflect on what we want out of life. It becomes a means to better understand ourselves and what makes us happy, teaching us lasting lessons which we can use to improve our lives even after the trip is long over.
When we travel, it can be tempting to go a mile a minute. Perhaps you are taking a much need two-week break from work and are desperate to make the most of your time away by seeing as much as possible. Or maybe you’ve taken a gap year and want to experience everything on offer, just in case you never come back to this part of the world again. Travel is exciting because everything is new and different. However, if you’re constantly thinking about seeing the next thing, you won’t be able to fully appreciate what is happening right in front of you.
Writing a travel journal will force you to slow down from time to time and reflect on everything you have done so far to maximise your experience.
Travel is exciting because it is a risk. It is a risk because you are leaving behind the safe and the familiar to explore the unusual and the unknown. Of course, this means things can go wrong from time to time. Language barriers can lead to misunderstandings when agreeing prices for goods. Transport can break down, leaving you stranded and surrounded by strangers. Personal effects might be stolen or damaged.
This is where the travel journal can help save the day. Instead of getting upset with a friend or local, rant and rave in your diary. Letting the frustration pour out in your words can be incredibly cathartic. It can also help you recognise when perhaps you have exaggerated the circumstances and see that things aren’t so bad, after all.
While keeping a travel journal is a great way to take stock of your experiences and appreciate them to the maximum, we are not advocating getting the diary out in the middle of a tour to write down every nugget of information. Instead, write during those quiet or boring moments as a means of entertaining yourself. After all, travel is full of them: from sleepless overnight journeys to a lonely evening in a hostel lounge.
Writing a journal stimulates the creative centres in our brains. By taking the time to write about the amazing places you have seen and interesting people you have met, you may find yourself wanting to develop those thoughts in other ways. Some like to record what they have seen by drawing pictures, while others use their travel locations as a setting in a story.
Unless you have a photographic memory, most of us tend to forget things quickly, even life-affirming experiences like travel. We might remember our emotions in a particular moment and a few key instances, but our brains have a way of forgetting a lot of detail.
Thus, a travel journal becomes a means of capturing a descriptive photograph of the most important moments. Not only does writing down an experience mean we are more likely to commit more of it to our long-term memories, but we can revisit those instances whenever we like, again and again.
In this sense, travel journals become a method of time travel. When life gets hard and we long to relive special moments, we need only to flip open our old journals to transport ourselves through time and space.
Finally, a travel journal is the most valuable souvenir you will ever own: it is 100% written for you; tells the greatest story ever told: your own; and looks great on a shelf. No gift you buy yourself will ever be so timeless and precious.
Ready to open your journal and start writing your own travel diary? Browse My Late Deal’s late holiday bargains and get ready for your next adventure.