Does the term travel journal conjure up images of grade school essays, “What I did on my summer vacation?” Are you the kind of person that groans at the thought of keeping a trip journal, claiming that you are on vacation? Do you think that writing is an assignment rather than a pleasure?
If so, perhaps it is time to look at writing in a fresh new way.
I have a friend who is a professional writer, and she loves to write. She keeps a daily journal, taking it with her when she travels. As soon as the flight attendant gives permission to use the airplane trays, she takes out her journal and begins recording her adventure.
However, after a few days, the excuses creep in. She tells herself that she’ll get to it tomorrow. the excuses keep adding up, and before she knows it, the trip is over. On the plane ride home, she tries to remember all the details, but many, many are already lost.
Another excuse she gives is that she doesn’t want to just jot down things to remember, or scribble in her diary, but that is EXACTLY what she needs to be doing if she wants to capture those memories.
Can you relate to my friend’s story? If you are choking with excuses, it is time to liberate yourself from them and unleash your inner writer. Take that choke-collar off, please!
Here are some tips to combat those excuses and to keep you on track:
Keep it simple. You don’t need to write a novel-just write a few words about your trip.
Anything is better than a blank page; put something down. For example, list keywords about everything you did.
Don’t worry about penmanship. You are free to scribble or doodle in your travel journal.
The same is true about grammar. No one is going to grade your work.
A picture is worth a thousand words. If you don’t want to write, then draw. You are not in an art class — stick figures are cute.
If you don’t want to draw, then paste. Capture memories with postcards, ticket stubs, postage stamps, etc. Scrapbook them.
Just do it. Firmly but gently, tell the “I’ll do it tomorrow” voice to go away.
Remember the goal: you are preserving the memory of your trip.
You, and you alone, get to decide what to say, how to write it, and how much to record.
For many of us, getting started is the hardest part. Even the best writers have difficulty getting started. Here are some ideas that may help you to begin to write:
Start with a good quality journal and a favorite pen.
Don’t think, just write what comes to your pen.
Write down whatever comes to you.
Resist any urge to censor your words. Resist the urge to cross anything out.
As you are writing, imagine you are telling your story to someone.
Highlight aspects of your trip that are interesting to you – what you ate, who you met, the scenery etc.
Be playful with your writing. Your travel journal doesn’t need to be serious unless you are feeling serious.
If you are really stuck, open your journal, and write, “I can’t think of a single thing to write.” That will quickly seem ridiculous, particularly since you are on vacation.
Do you like everything to look perfect? Are you afraid that your travel journal will look messy? If you can’t let go of that notion, then, get a pad of sticky paper that is the size of your journal pages, affix it to your entry page in the journal, and write on that. You can transfer your word on the plane ride home. (You’ll only do it this way once, I promise. From then on, you’ll go for the real journal pages and be so playfully confident.)
Remember my friend who thought she’d remember all the details of her trip? The main lesson to remember from her loss is to capture the memories every day DURING your trip — not on the way home. Or, the ghastly mistake of hunting and pecking for memory details AFTER you get home!
The words will flow once you get started capturing your memories, the high points, the low moments and all the extraordinary times in between. Before you know it, you will have created a lasting legacy filled with your own wonderful travel memories.