The fact that a serious and professional travel blogger needs to keep a journal while traveling, is considered a universal truth.
I have never done it and never will, I am convinced about that.
Is it REALLY necessary to write a journal to keep track of your wanderings and feelings? Are there other ways to collect travel memories not missing out any of them?
Read this article to find out the answer.
I started traveling, with my parents, when I was just a few months old and I am still on the road.
I have thousands of good memories about my adventures and this is one of the reasons why I have started writing my blog.
My goal is to share useful tips and practical ideas on how to travel for cheap. I write about my past experiences but also about my present adventures.
When I started sharing my experiences with other fellow bloggers about the “writing process”, I stumbled upon the word “journal”.
Of course, I know what a journal is. What surprised me was the fact that many travel bloggers consider keeping a (daily) journal a must, something they can’t travel without. Uhmm…I felt like the different guy since I have never even thought about it.
Why I don’t keep a travel journal
During my travels, my only concern is (and has always been) to live the experience to the fullest, to immerse myself completely, not to miss out a single thing. How could I be able to enjoy the experience if I am too busy writing, not even noticing what’s happening around me? No thanks, not my cup of tea.
Because of this, when I started blogging, I decided I didn’t want to change my approach. Rather than complying with “rules”, I prefer to do things my own way. I need to feel happy about myself and my work.
I still picture in my mind something I saw a couple of years ago, in Peru. My husband and I were on the train from Machu Picchu to Ollantaytambo. We had visited the citadel ruins the day before and we were still so excited about it, we couldn’t stop talking about how great the visit had been. The day was sunny, bright and warm. We could admire the rays of sunshine that were shining everywhere. The panorama from the windows was spectacular: luxurious forests, mountains, and rivers were all part of an incredible picture that looked like a perfect artwork. We were in complete awe.
At a certain point, I noticed a woman sitting next to me. She was with her husband and her child. Rather than enjoying their company, she was to busy writing in a small notebook. Looking absorbed and focused, she completed many pages, asking also details about the places visited, to her husband. If I think about it now, I can easily guess she was busy updating her travel journal. I couldn’t help but feel sad for her. Maybe she was able to write a great article about Machu Picchu later that day but, she was missing out a magical moment to share with her family. One of the those precious, priceless moment to cherish forever. The journey time by train from Machu Picchu to Ollantaytambo was, almost, 1hour and 30 minutes and she didn’t stop writing until we arrived at the destination.
Now, each one has the right to make his/her personal choices, so no judging but, in my opinion, there are many ways to do the same thing.
How I keep track of my travel memories
I prefer to take a different approach when it comes to collect memories that I will later write down on my blog.
- I TAKE PICTURES: I love taking pictures, of everything: restaurants, hostels, buses, food. A picture can evoke fond holiday memories. It can remind me of something I saw, I ate, I felt. Sometimes, by looking at a picture I can even notice small details I didn’t see at the moment.
- I KEEP TICKETS AND RECEIPTS: Once home, I go through the tickets about the shows or the places I had visited. I pause for a while and recall the feelings experienced during those moments. Did I enjoy the visit? What did I like the most? Did I have to queue? Was the show on time? Just storing the tickets can help me out. The same principle applies to the receipts of restaurants or hotels. Did I like food? What did I have? Was it a nice experience overall? A very simple receipt is enough to collect all the information.
- I WRITE BRIEF NOTES ON MY TRAVEL PLAN: On my post How to plan your next trip, I explained the fact that I always travel with a daily trip plan that helps me keep updated on all the practical details of my trip. Every night, before sleeping I only need to have a look at the plan of that day and to write some small comments and feedbacks about what I have done.
- I SHARE MEMORIES WITH MY HUSBAND: Before writing about a place I have visited, I do a brief and relaxing brainstorm with Fabio, my husband, my best friend. We like to share the memories that we have of a certain destination or a certain experience. Through the conversation, I can refresh my memories and collect material for my post. By doing this, I can also have a different point of view, or perspective, which is different from mine. This helps me to be more accurate in my writing.
Finally, before I start writing a post, I take time to stop and think. I get my personal inspiration by merging everything that results from the 4 steps mentioned before.
That’s my personal writing process.
The last step is put all the information collected (maps, receipts, tickets, daily trip plan) and store everything in a folder. At home, I keep a personal archive with several folders, each one of them corresponding to a trip. When I feel nostalgic or I just want to review some information, all I have to do is to open the right folder and…..my trip down memory lane is ready to start.
So, no daily journal for me. What do you do think about keeping a journal while traveling?
Do you have one?