HOW TO WRITE THE PERFECT TRAVEL JOURNAL

Aug 08, 2019

One of the only times I kept a travel journal was on a big trip I did through South America. In 1991 I spent a year travelling the top half of the continent and I’m so pleased I wrote about it. Years later I still enjoy reading my observations and musings – and yes even some terrible poetry – from that trip.

But the quality of the writing isn’t important. It was the fact I put pen to paper every day or every few days and wrote about my personal experiences. Looking back at my diary reveals a young man trying to work out the world and doing it in a part of the world he was very unfamiliar with. The diary is funny, sad, silly and sometimes awfully earnest – but ultimately it’s 24-year-old me. And that’s what counts.

Keeping a travel journal even on a small trip like a 3-4 day Life’s An Adventure pack-free guided walk will add so much to your experience. Yes, you’ll have lots of photos but they don’t always convey what you’re feeling when say, you see the spectacular sea cliffs on the Three Capes Walk or the ancient beehive-like Bungle Bungles on the five-day Kimberleys walk or even the awe-inspiring Milford Sound on the Fiordland Great Walks of NZ trip.

SO HERE ARE 10 THINGS TO DO (AND NOT DO) WHEN KEEPING A TRAVEL JOURNAL.

AVOID LISTING MUNDANE ACTIVITIES… ‘And then I did this… and then I did that’… It can become tedious. You want to create a captivating story, not a repetitive list.

ENTRIES DON’T HAVE TO BE CHRONOLOGICAL Write whatever catches your imagination, whenever it occurs to you.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO RECORD EVERYTHING What you leave out is as important as what you put in.

USE DIALOGUE Funny things you’ve overheard, or a conversation with a fellow walker, for example.

USE ALL YOUR SENSES Write about the sounds, smells, tastes and even textures of your walk.

Add colour to your journal.

ILLUSTRATE IT The act of drawing a building, termite mound or person will help to etch them in your memory. And it doesn’t matter if you’re not artistic or you could print out your photos later on and add them to your diary.

Just make sure you know what flowers you can and cannot take!

USE IT AS A SCRAPBOOK Stick in tickets, bottle labels or even leaves and flowers (but best check with your guide in if it’s ok to remove the flora!)

GIVE A DAY AND DATE FOR EACH NEW MEMORY Or else you’ll forget what happened when.

GET IT DOWN ON PAPER WHILE IT’S FRESH It will be much more vivid. If there’s not enough time for a full description, jot down a few keywords, which will jog your memory and fill in the gaps later.

ENJOY IT! This should be a fun experience, not a chore. Even if you write for just 10 minutes a day after a few days it will become a fun habit and it’s likely things will happen to you or you’ll see something on the trail that you’ll put to memory so you can write about it later. Happy writing!

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