Musings on travel journalling

Recently, I have been exploring and experimenting with travel journalling as a way to help me record what I notice when I travel, and more importantly, to help me remember my travels. I took inspiration from Cathy (wander.essence) who described it as “the intentional experience of a destination”  rather than just somewhere we go to tick it off a list. I tried it out on my Namibian trip.

Before…

Before I left for my recent Namibian trip, I purchased Dave Fox’s Globejotting: How to Write Extraordinary Travel Journals on my Kindle and devoured it in one sitting. Then I did his short course on Udemy (it was on sale 😀). I was completely fired up by his enthusiasm and approach to keeping a travel journal. I returned also to Cathy’s comprehensive list of ideas from her post ‘on keeping a travel journal‘ and sorted out those that resonated with me.

I used her ideas to set up a number of pages in my crisp new Moleskine which was destined to be the travel journal for Namibia. The idea was that I would try these as structured prompts for the new journalling approach, as blank pages have not worked for me in the past – I have simply returned home with an empty journal and no memories!

  • 5 expectations I have of the place before I visit (also one of Dave Fox’s recommended techniques)
  • Notice one new thing each day
  • Getting around
  • Make the mundane interesting (aka everyday delights)
  • Things I learnt today (I love to learn, but I do forget a lot of what I hear, so writing it down is good)
  • Synchronistic happenings
  • Individual pages for two days of journeys
  • Individual pages for planned outings
  • Themes to write about
  • A cover page

travel journal set

Namibia would be the testing ground to see if the prompts and techniques worked or not and to see if I needed to make any adjustments for the New Zealand trip in July. I started my Namibian trip with a sparkling (it didn’t stay that way for long) new journal filled with prompts and techniques that I was eager to try.

After…

Having been back from Namibia for almost 2 weeks, I wrote some reflections about the actual journalling process. I have not yet been able to write about the trip itself for some reason.

I found the travel journal was like an old friend, providing comfort when I needed it, always there when I sat down for coffee, or when I was at a loose end (at the airport for example). The journal was small enough to fit into my handbag, so I always had it handy. As I was travelling alone, I could write when I had meals and at other strange times of the day. It was much more engaging than aimless playing on my smartphone when I was eating!

The writing techniques from the Globejotting book such as “Reporting Live” and “Using the Senses” were practical reminders to check in with what was going on around me. My favourite was definitely Reporting Live, as this is about writing in the moment (not later), using all my senses and capturing how I feel at that moment in time! One of my resolutions for everyday delights is “being present in the moment“. This technique was a godsend for helping me to do that whilst I was away.

Another technique, speed journaling worked when I was on a desert tour and just had time to quickly note words and facts, without worrying about being tidy or spelling correctly.

I wrote copiously on my “Notice one new thing a day“, “Make the mundane interesting” and “Things I learnt today” pages, so I’m assuming that these prompts worked well, and will use them again. The individual pages I set up for special days out and days spent travelling were also filled to the brim with jottings.

Some pages, like the “Synchronistic happenings“, were completely blank. I’m a great believer in synchronicity so I will keep this page in my next journal, just to see if any coincidental events that have surprising connections come up by accident.

travel journalling

Most of the pages I pre-prepared were reminders and prompts to look at things from different perspectives – through all my senses, not just sight; to keep observing, to keep noticing, to jot down my thoughts at least once a day. Dave’s techniques reminded me to capture the moment, not write perfect prose. And I’m thankful for that, seeing as I have a very critical Inner Censor!

Verdict?

Yes! I loved the whole experience and now I am about to set up a new journal for my trip to New Zealand. This trip will be different in that I am travelling with colleagues so it will be a test to see if I can write as much as I did when I was alone.

All will be revealed!

Debbie blog sign off 2018

One thought on “Musings on travel journalling

  1. wanderessence1025 says:

    Thanks, Debs, for mentioning my prompts again. I also love this book you recommended. I will have to read it soon! I think we are trying hard to be present in the moment and record what we see. I’ve found what seems to be working best for me is to just jot names and brief words and then later write more where I tie things together. I try to jot down names, brief descriptions, in one sloppy notebook, and later transcribe them, that same night, if possible, into more detailed observations with feelings. It’s definitely easier to do when I’m alone. I usually fail miserably when I’m with other people, so it will be fun to see how you handle that. Good luck. I still always feel like I come up short, especially when I read great Travel writers!

    Liked by 1 person

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