Reading about the best travel books is one thing, but writing your own story an entirely different one. It doesn’t have to be a full-blown novel. But simply capturing your personal travel experience makes such a difference. Be honest, how many details of your last trip, let alone those from five years ago, can you remember? Here’s my plea for stocking up on travel journals.
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Why Keeping Travel Journals Is So Worth It
What was that funny story that random local told you again? You forgot? What a shame, it was such a cool party story. How did it feel to arrive in a new country? What were the smells, the impressions? How exactly did the itinerary turn out? You changed it halfway through because you forgot to calculate in local holidays or the wet season. All these things your brain will erase. They are not crucial in your everyday life and serve no immediate purpose other than nostalgia.
However, nostalgia is a very valid and pleasant feeling. It helps transport you back to old times, times that brought a smile on your face. Even if you can’t reconnect to the exact same feelings you had during your trip, chances are your mind will take you back to the good times. The minor nuisances will be brushed over. Which is both good and bad. Good because who wants to tap into angry feelings? Bad because the travel information might come in handy again.
What You Can Do with a Travel Scrapbook
This is where creating unique travel journals come into play. Try to not just document the main parts of your travels and narrate sober facts about the weather and food. This isn’t a postcard to your relatives. Be real, be raw. Treat it like a diary, a travel scrapbook, a precious photo album. Whatever you want really.
You can write daily musings, quotes you picked up, new vocabulary, random facts or even song lyrics. Why not glue in brochures, tickets and scraps from maps you used? Pick up flowers (just double check with customs, they might confiscate them), have new travel acquaintances write a little something for you (to help you remember them) or stick a Polaroid picture in there. Or draw and doodle to your heart’s content! This doesn’t only get your creative juices flowing, but helps relieve stress a bit.
I already wrote a post on how to personalise a travel scrapbook, so this time I will give you tips on the basics: what travel journals to buy.
The Classic Travel Journals
If you want to feel like Ernest Hemingway or Pablo Picasso, you could invest in a classic, time-less moleskine journal. I personally have used them a lot and love them because they come in handy sizes, are durable and feel really nice. Fun fact: Did you know that Moleskine teamed up with Evernote to create travel journals that can easily sync with your smartphone ? That’s a great bonus. If you are headed for a specific destination, like NYC, Paris or London, you could get a (more affordable) city notebook.
An alternative to Moleskine is Leuchtturm (not to be confused with the Jehova’s Witnesses magazine!). It comes in cool bright colours, of which I particularly love the yellow one (I got one!). These journals don’t come with blank pages but with dotted lines. This way, you can use them for writing, (precise) drawing but also as for layouting your compositions. The dots are quite subtle, so it still looks good.
For feeling like a true explorer and very important person, try your hand at a leather bound travel journal. These really will endure even the bumpiest of travels – especially in overpacked giant backpacks. You could etch your name on the outside and attach a few bead or feathers on the leather strap to personalise it. Or get a colourful leather journal.
The Creative and Affirmative Travel Journals
In case you are the type of person that needs an extra push (or just likes pinterst-y daily affirmations and watercolour fonts), Start Where You Are: A Journal for Self-Exploration is a good bet. It has wonderfully uplifting quotes paired with beautiful drawings and, of course, a world map to mark your travel journeys.
If you are one of the creative, crafty types with a passion for beautifully printed paper, you can basically look for any regular scrapbook (or at least one with a pretty cover). It doesn’t have to be travel related, you will be able to turn it into anything you want. You can get those in good stationary or arts and crafts shops, where you can stock up on washi tapes, stickers, stamps, colourful pencils and sticky notes to compliment your scribblings. Of course, online stores like Amazon have those as well. (And you don’t have to leave the house.)