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Challenge: Keep a travel diary

I’m not much of a writer. I survived English in high school, and I looked forward to university purely because I could ‘drop English’. So keeping any kind of journal/diary was always going to be a struggle for me. But being my first trip to Europe, and knowing that I would be going back in a few months, inspired me to try.

Last year, I took a big 6 week holiday to South America and the USA, and one of my regrets was not keeping a record of my thoughts and activities while over there. It was such an intense, jam packed trip – there was no way I could remember all the amazing little things that happened, all the places we ate at, all the funny little conversations we had with people we met.

Of course you remember all the highlights – but on a 6 week holiday – where you never spent more than 5 days in one place – the highlights alone are enough to fill up all your memory space. Photos can only record so much of a trip – how you felt, what you thought – that is much harder to capture.

The aim? A detailed entry for everyday I was away – thoughts, ideas, tips for next time, memories, funny anecdotes, highlights, must-dos and must avoids, things I’ve learnt, business cards, ticket stubs, maps, receipts – anything I could stick into a book.

With this diary as a foundation – I’m hoping to be able to share a series of travel blogs, reviews, recommendations and advice. Anyway, we’ll see…

So today’s travel advice blog is (you guessed it) –

Tips for keeping a travel diary

What did I use?

Why?

  • Write Now journal
    • Soft cover – flexible enough to fit into those awkward spaces in your bag.
    • 8”H X 5”W size – small enough to throw into your bag but big enough to comfortably stick in boarding passes, photos, tickets, receipts etc.
    • Durable – carry it everywhere with you without it falling apart.
  • Pacer + Eraser
    • My grammar is not always great – so using pencil means I can erase and correct my dyslexic moments. Nor are my thoughts always succinct – so I can go back and rephrase when I’m feeling more eloquent.
    • You don’t need to sharpen a pacer
    • If you do elect to use pencil to record your memories
      • carry a backing board with you (just a piece of cardboard will do) to prevent the words on one page from imprinting on the previous page as you are writing
  • 3M Transpore Tape (tear-able)
    • To stick in business cards, boarding passes, tickets, receipts, maps etc. on the go – because honestly, I’ll either lose them or I won’t be bothered to stick them in when I get home.
    • Another blog had suggested taking a tiny tape dispenser – I chose tear-able tape simply for its convenience, and to avoid the jagged edges of the tape dispenser from damaging other items in my bag.

What’s in my travel diary?

  • I start off each page with the day, day of the week and date
    • e.g. Day 1 Tuesday 23rd July 2013 cont…
  • Reviews – my impressions and thoughts about hotels, airports, travel services etc.
  • Tips – what I would do differently, where to find certain services, things I had learnt, what I would recommend, how to avoid pickpockets or being scammed
  • Adventures and Experiences – what I witnessed, my first impressions, how I felt, what I thought, stories and anecdotes, what I liked and what I didn’t
  • Ancillaries – that I would stick in (my diary looks a bit like an interactive pop-up book)
    • business cards of hotels, restaurants, taxi services etc.
    • fold out maps of the city, their metro system etc.
    • receipts – for a rough guide on how much everyday expenses were
    • tickets and boarding passes from flights, cruises, shows, transportation etc.
    • cut-outs I found interesting from flyers and brochures about places I had travelled
    • and plenty of blank pages in between entries – in case I should wish to stick in photos I had taken

Before I left, my beautiful travel expert (aka travel agent), Krissy, advised me that, a travel journal was a lot more difficult than it seems. You start out motivated, but it gets harder and harder to keep it up as your trip goes on.

I’m grateful she gave me that little morsel of advice, without it, I would’ve given up a couple of days into the trip. I wouldn’t have taken the 60 seconds, to stick in a ticket stub – or the 3 minutes, to jot down a few dot points about my day.

And you know what? – 6 days into my trip, I found myself writing,

“Also, Krissy was right. It gets harder & harder to write a travel journal as the days go on.”

So I put things into perspective. I thought, if each day I just put pen to paper – that would be enough. And that’s all it takes – just a moment – to put pen to paper.

It wasn’t about recording every little detail of my trip – it was about putting something down to jog my memory when I looked back upon it. It’s not a personal diary – it’s not something I would regret if someone stumbled upon it and read it. It’s simply a documentation of my travels. Some days – it’s just dot points – other days I’d find myself writing down all the things I would’ve told my friends and family if they were sitting beside me.

My advice is – don’t be intimidated – just take a moment – put pen to paper.

Now I have something invaluable, an item with the ability to open the floodgates, releasing memories and flashbacks from a spectacular trip.

Challenge: Complete!

This post is dedicated to Krissy, a little ray of sunshine.

Previous travel entry: Catching the travel bug

Next travel entry: Choose your own adventure: Plan a holiday

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