There are many ways to document your travels: Facebook, Instagram, sending postcards, taking selfies, picking up souvenirs . . . I do it all, but there has always been something intriguing about having a travel journal. Having a journal filled specifically with wondrous places I had yet to visit instantly made me feet start to itch. With some time and dedication, travel journals can become a work of art in their own right. I recommend doing a quick Google search and trying not succumb to the instantaneous wanderlust.
However, it was never the idea of having a travel journal that had me stumped. I’m usually super excited . . . I go out and find a wonderful journal . . . I’m going to write in it every day . . . it’s going to be stock full of all my adventures . . . I’m dedicated the first week and . . .
Then I lose all inspiration.
How could I find the motivation to consistently be creative? Finally, after two months of backpacking, I found tricks that worked for me. My travel journal isn’t full, so to say – it’s waiting to be filled. But, out of those two months, I managed to journal in every city, sometimes even multiple times. In the end, I have a pretty cool memento from my trip, as well as something that’s still a bit . . . me.
So, here are 5 tips on how to I actually kept up a travel journal:
1. Find a journal you like
A travel journal might be a soft paperback you find for a few dollars on clearance, a book of recycled pages, or a thick, leather bound volume. There is no true defining travel journal. The key to a good travel journal is knowing that you’ll use it. Think about portability and durability. Where are you going to store it when you travel? Do you prefer lined or unlined pages? Do you intend to use other mediums, such as pastels or watercolors? All of these play a factor in finding a journal that fits your needs.
I’m a culprit of purchasing too many journals I don’t use or I use them for a few entires and move on. It’s a bad habit I’m slowly, slowly breaking.
My travel journal is also a souvenir. Currently, I use the brown one in the photo above. I picked it up in Florence as one of my bucket list souvenir items last year. TIP: ***If you can’t decide on a travel journal before you leave, pick it up along the way.
2. Only have one
You can start a new journal for each trip, each country . . . but, if you’re like me and inspiration comes and goes like the tide, then having just one is a great place to start. Ever so slowly, the pages will start to fill. If not, the empty journals just start piling up. You write in one for two weeks and then write in another for a few months, only to misplace it and start a new one. It’s a never-ending cycle.
3. Invest some time in it
Traveling slow is great because you have downtime like you do at home. Every few days or so, I would take my journal to a coffee shop or park and make a detailed entry. In hostels, I sit out on the patio, steaming tea in one hand and pen in the other. Use it as relaxation time, as a way to decompress after a long day exploring.
4. Don’t necessarily write down everything you do
Think of it as a mini scrapbook. Find creative ways to document your adventures, let that be ticket stubs, Polaroids, or sketches. I chose watercolor. Sketch fountains, famous buildings, or people. If you want to remember it, draw it.
It’s kind of a learning process, especially since I haven’t worked with watercolor much before. Sometimes, working on my travel journal was my therapy. I’d find a bench or a cafe table, pop in some headphones, and just draw.
5. Keep it on you
Sometimes, I would have bursts of motivation and absolutely nothing to work on – my journal was back at the hostel! However, that’s easy to fix if your journal is portable. My journal is thin and easily fits in my day bag. In fact, it hardly ever comes out while I travel so I never do accidentally forget it.
In addition to my journal, I carry a small sack filled with anything I could need: my watercolors, a portable pill container I use to store water, a Kleenex, a few pens, pencils, and an eraser and glue stick. I have everything I need and such an easy way to carry it.
I’m very content with my travel journal and can’t wait to take it out again.
Keep on journaling,