Sure, you record your memories through pictures and Facebook posts when traveling abroad, but what happens when you get the urge to record your deeper thoughts and feelings meant only for your eyes? What happens when you get frustrated with something (or someone) and need a safe place to vent? Where do you put all your ticket stubs, brochures, or fresh-picked four-leaf clovers?
That's where a travel journal comes in.
One of my best friends gifted me with a beautiful lined journal before I left for a 4.5 month journey abroad , and soon it and I became inseparable. I always said that I could lose all my clothes and all my belongings, but if I lost my pictures or myjournal, I would be ruined. That journal became my place to write down the little things I didn't want to forget, record my feelings of my day-to-day life, and paste in memories I didn't want to end up losing. I filled two journals' worth of info and memories from my adventures, and now they're some of my most cherished possessions.
I highly recommend keeping a travel journal as a place to store your memories when you're abroad. Here are some tips that helped me create the best journal possible:
1.) Always write down people and place names.
When you're abroad, you'll meet some really cool people, and go to some really cool places. You don't want to forget that you shared a great Guinness with Mallory and Tom at Killpatty's Bar in Killarney, or that the tour boat you took out to the Aran Islands was called Andromeda and that your gap-toothed captain's name was Jim. You may not think you will, but trust me, you'll forget names. Having them written down will make you super appreciative later when you reread your entries.
2.) Write down everything you're feeling.
There were times that I wrote down basically the same thing day after day--and that's ok. Vent until the thing that's bothering you either fades away or you deal with it. Explore the emotions that continuously pop up so you can address them. Some days you'll be overjoyed and write sickeningly sappy entries, and other days you'll get annoyed at something that's happened, or will get homesick, and your entries will be more critical.
When you go back and look over your journal later, it will be good for you to see that your time abroad was a full life experience, not just an adventure to be viewed through rose-colored glasses.
3.) Use your journal for a catch-all for all your tickets, flyers, and brochures.
You'll definitely want to bring them home, and you don't want them to get lost (or worse, you throw them out because you don't want to deal with them). In between my writing entries, I pasted in the things that I wanted to keep. I tried to keep them in chronological order--and I'm glad I did. Now I can look over my pages of Italian train tickets and relive the journey I took in my head. I also made little notes on some of them, such as who I was with or what we were doing at the time.
4.) Write as often as possible, with as many details as possible.
While I didn't write every day, I wish I had. The days that I wrote entries back to back really painted a full picture of what my life was like during that time. Also, the entries where I wrote more details are the ones I enjoy the most. Putting down your feelings, along with descriptions of the people and places around you make for the best entries.
It may seem tedious to do this (and it is, sometimes). But you WON'T regret it when you get home and can really relive your adventure for years to come.
5.) Take your journal EVERYWHERE, and keep it close.
I protected mine like it was a MacBook and never let it out of my sight. I brought it to Florence, Venice, Rome, Cinque Terre, the Aran Islands, multiple farms, on boats, in planes, and through rain and wind and sunshine. Even on day trips, I took it with me. It's great to have in transit, because you will have A LOT of downtime when traveling. Having your journal with you in lines and on trains and buses will give you something to do. I did most of my writing this way.
There are probably countless more tips out there about how to create a cherish-able travel journal, but these are the things that worked for me. If you can think of anything to add, let me know! Your journal will become something that you'll prize for years to come.
Kayla Maneen received her BFA in Creative Writing and minored in adventure and fun. After graduation, she worked on an organic farm in Ireland and taught English in Italy, and learned all there is to know about chasing sheep and eating long, leisurely meals with family. She is adamant about people living out their passions and reaching their highest potentials. Always follow that fire in your heart!