Last month, while I was in Brighton, I spend the evening in my hostel room writing down the events of the day. I always keep a travel journal when I’m on the road, to make sure I don’t forget anything. I must have picked that up from my mum, who does the same. Anyway, some of the boys in the dorm noticed it and asked if I was writing a diary. I explained what I did, and their reactions went from “cool” to “I didn’t think anybody does that anymore”.
One could get into a whole discussion about whether a diary and a journal are the same thing and one just has a cooler name, but that’s not where I’m going with this. I want to show why everyone should find a way of putting down their activities when on the road – no matter whether you call it diary, journal, or notebook. And if your roommates don’t understand what you’re doing, this is the explanation you can give them.
A travel journal helps your memory
While on the trip, you may be sure you would never forget any of these experiences. How could you possibly? But once you return home, you’ll be surprised how quickly your memory becomes unreliable. What was the name again of that obscure little town you stopped to get a coffee? What country did your roommate come from? And how exactly was it again that your guide’s shoe ended up in the river?
Sure, you can take pictures, but they won’t be helpful if you’ve forgotten what it is that you photographed. Our memory can be annoyingly fickle, and the longer ago the trip the harder it will be to remember. That includes those outstanding events you never wanted to forget. You’ll be grateful if you have everything written down on paper and you can look it up whenever you want.
You get to relive all your adventures
Those notes you scribbled down every evening before going to bed, or on the bus, or in the restaurant while waiting for your food – they are invaluable. Many of the articles on this blog I would have struggled with if it hadn’t been for the information in my travel journal. But even if you’re not a travel blogger, journaling on the road has a lot of advantages.
It’s a great help if you plan to put together a photo album of your trip, for example. Or anything that contains information about what you did. You could also do that right away by adding bills, pictures and other scraps of paper that carry memories of any kind to your journal.
Not everyone enjoys writing long texts about their days, and I’m the first to admit that it can be hard to maintain the discipline for daily journaling when there are so many exciting things around. So find a form that works for you. It can just be a few notes if that’s all you can get yourself to do. Just remember, the more time you spend on this while on the road, the more enjoyment and usefulness you’ll get out of it later.
Journaling is good for your wellbeing
It’s a proven fact that journaling can be advantageous for your mental health. I find this is particularly true for introverts, as we don’t tend to speak about our problems so much. Instead, we express ourselves in writing.
However, introvert or not, when you travel there’s a lot of new impressions to deal with every day. Journaling can help sorting through all these new and exciting information. That’s because journaling helps you to understand yourself better, as well as those around you (for a more detailed explanation look here). Making sense of this new world we find ourselves in is the essence of travelling.
It can also be beneficial in dealing with the negative sides of travelling such as homesickness, culture shock, or loneliness.
A travel journal makes you more appreciative of your experiences
Journaling slows you down. You are forced to mentally engage with the events of the day, all the new experiences and the feelings they provoked. This can make the experience more intense, because it heightens your awareness. Rather than always rushing to the next thing, you’re stopping to take account of what happened so far.
The added advantage it that it makes your memories more lasting. The additional engagement with events burns them deeper into your memory. I already mentioned above how difficult it is to remember everything about your travels. You’ll be glad for everything that makes your memories a bit more enduring.
Even if journaling has never been your thing, I urge you to give it a try. Who knows, maybe you will discover a new love of writing? Either way, whether you take notes in a scrapbook with all the little bits and pieces you collect, or bring your deepest emotions to the page, there is no reason to let others make fun of it. If they don’t understand the benefits of a travel journal, that’s their loss.
Do you keep a journal when you travel? Or even when you don’t travel? Do you find it difficult sometimes to keep up the daily routine? Any more advantages that you’d like to share?