“HOW was your trip?”, “What was your favourite part of Paris?”, “Is it very different from here?”, “Are the people there friendly?”
These are but a few of the questions you would typically get from friends or family members once you’re returned from a trip. It’s perfectly acceptable to give a general answer of “Oh, it was great. Paris was cold, but nice. Yes, it’s different. Actually, the people were very nice.”
Now, wouldn’t it be great if you could give yourself a richer account of your trip?
You may remember your visits to the major landmarks, but it is tough to remember every single detail of your trip – the smell of freshly baked bread when you head out first thing in the morning, the feel of snow under your boots, the taste of finely-brewed coffee from a locally-sourced cafe or even the familiar din of the local pub/restaurant you head out to every evening.
With all the activities and happenings of your trip, it’s only natural for the overall feel for the trip to be somewhat diluted. It would have been great, but how great was it really?
This is where journalling comes into the picture.
People tend to be wary of the word “journal” and immediately think that it will take too much time – time better spent resting, taking photos or sleeping. Journalling doesn’t have to be that way.
You needn’t write an essay, nor do you need to force yourself to come up with something to write about. A simple and short entry for the day is just as good.
You can even write a brief line or two while waiting for the coffee you just ordered. And it can be about anything under the sun – something you experienced first-hand, a funny moment, personal or cultural observations, the food you just ate, the museum you just visited, how you accidentally drank someone else’s tea!
There will always be something to write about. There is no right or wrong way to start journalling. It is, after all, your words and your journal.
It might seem a bit cumbersome in the beginning, but it will be second nature once you familiarise yourself in the art of taking notes. Yes, journalling is pretty much like that when you travel – all your thoughts and observations come alive in your little notebook.
It’s also a great way to take a breather from all the activities on your trip. You can sit down somewhere quiet or even on the stairs of a cathedral, and think about all that’s happened and all that’s happening in front of you at that very moment.
A journal will give you the opportunity to be more aware of your surroundings and look at things from a more personal perspective. And when looking back at the words you have written down, you would remember your trip more vividly and fondly.
Yes, photographs work just as well (I’m sure you will amass quite a number of them), but words and personal thoughts are an added wonderful touch to your trip. It’s one thing to photograph the Eiffel Tower, and another altogether when you write down your experience while gazing upon this magnificent piece of historical architecture.
It becomes a different kind of memory.
You can even choose to share your travel journal with loved ones. I’m sure it would be a precious gift to pass on to the younger members of the family and let your words inspire them to travel. Your memories will be more than just a gift to them, it will be their legacy.
If you’re not one for writing (in the traditional sense) and are more comfortable using your tablet PC or phone, journalling is still something you can indulge in. Typing out a few words when on the go may make sense when you don’t want to be bogged down by so many things to carry. Use your gadgets and publish your notes and photos to your blog or even your personal Facebook account.
If that’s not reason enough, your journal can more importantly be something solely for you. There will surely be a day, some time after your trip, when you wonder what you were up to on your fifth day of your three-week long trip. Rest assured, your journal will come in handy then.
Suddenly, your photographs piece together beautifully and you are able to reminisce about that wonderful French pastry you had. Furthermore, who’s to say you can’t add more to your journal post-trip? It’s highly likely that you may think of something else that you completely forgot and probably didn’t understand at the time.
And so you write down those words and you think again. You may even want to discuss those moments with your loved ones and friends. Maybe they’ve had a similar experience or a totally bizarre one that you can add into your journal.
It’s never too late to start a travel journal, as it’s never too late to start travelling. Happy, amazing, soulful and wonderful memories are something to be treasured. Let your words be your guide.
Start a travel journal and discover the world of travel in a whole new light.