Journaling & Writing

Some keep journals better than others; I’m one with great aspirations (a 5-year journal) that exists with middling success. I’ve decided I want to do better than just mediocre, and have read a couple of books about travel journal-keeping. I wanted to share some of the ideas for journalling here, since I know that some of my extended family keep journals of various types as a personal choice, family tradition, or specifically for travel.

Most of these ideas are targeted at travel journalling, but here are a handful that I think can be used across the board for journal ideas:

  1. Describe or explain your surroundings with the detail you’d give to someone who had never been there or had no concept of what it would be like.
  2. Trace something (a passport, a handprint, a theatre ticket, your new work ID badge) and then write around that open space, or in the open space, about the relevant event/an idea relating to it. Paste whatever you traced, if applicable, nearby (if you trace your hand, kind of hard to paste it!).
  3. If you drink wine, save your wine cork – and dip it in the dregs/any leftovers(if you don’t drink it all…) across a journal page to make it into polka-dots. If you’re travelling, you can also glue a local coin to one end of the cork and turn it into a unique stamp or seal.
  4. Take something that happened (bad or good) and look back on how it came to be. Lose your wallet, graduate summa cum laude? Look back at the incidents that propelled you down the path for the event to happen.
  5. Take a page in the middle of the journal for “bests” and “worsts” from weather, hotels/hostels, transportation, etc.
  6. Treat your journal as a scrapbook – whether it’s big things like photos, tickets, strange wrappers from potato chips/crackers or the like, or small/unusual pieces like odd gum wrappers, stickers, bottle caps, etc.
  7. Write about even the hum-drum everyday stuff. Someone mentioned on our summer break that she had found old journals of a family member’s, and what was the most boring thing then (“Bought a new cow. She gives good milk.” type of letters) is interesting now, because times have changed.  I know what’s gotten “everyday” for me (“Harassed by monkeys again.” or “Almost run off the road by bad drivers from Haryana.”) will be unusual to anyone not in my position.

Some of these ideas taken from The Internet in general, and some from Lavinia Spalding’s Writing Away book. I strongly encourage anyone who wants to do more creative travel journalling to read Writing Away, and complement it with a side of David Fox’s book Globejotting, which is definitively for travel journal writers.

One Comment on “Journaling & Writing

  1. I love these ideas! Wish I had come up with them when I was backpacking through Asia and South America =) Although I did keep a pretty detailed journal during my travels, and I still love to sit down from time to time and flip through them.

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