As you might guess, we usually keep a travel journal on our trips. For longer or more exotic trips, these often fill dozens of pages. For shorter trips, a few lines or a few pages might capture the trip’s highlights. These journals make incredibly personalized souvenirs, cost almost nothing, give us a chance to recap each day’s highlights, are fun to read years later, and are great resources when planning return trips to our favorite destinations.
However, since our travel days can run pretty long, we’re often tired at night — and it can be tough to muster up the energy for journaling. A couple of strategies have made journaling enjoyable and more palatable even on those nights when we are dragging.
Most important: divide and conquer. Writing every day can be daunting, so unless you’re traveling solo, take turns. For us, that means Jeff writes one day and Erin the next. Every once in a while one of us writes two days in a row, but that’s fairly rare since the other person has to write the following two days in a row to make up for it. That’s usually enough to deter us from begging the other person into writing on our day!
Another thing that makes journaling fun — and helps divide up the workload — is to make the journal a bit like a scrapbook. Since we pack light, space is at a premium. So, we’ll bring a small blank journal from home, pick up free travel brochures along the way, cut out little reminders of the day with our Swiss Army knife’s tiny scissors, and use a glue stick to paste them into our journal.
If Erin’s writing, Jeff helps by cutting out pertinent pictures and words from the brochures. Even a receipt can be a reminder of a great tour or an adventure in a foreign grocery store. It’s a fun challenge to find perfect little photos and phrases that capture our day — and far cheaper than buying trinkety souvenirs that cut into our travel budget and might not see the light of day back home.
When we go on a shorter trip, it’s still nice to remember what we did even if we don’t feel the need to write detailed journal entries. On these trips, each day we buy a postcard with a picture that represents that day’s travels and write a short journal entry on it. That way, we end up with a photo journal in addition to our written cards. Once home, we put the cards into small, cheap photo albums so they’re easy to find.
We’ve found journaling to be a great activity for kids, too. Kids can help with the writing or scrapbooking aspect of a family journal, but we’ve found it best for kids to write their own. We give kids their own blank journals and have them write for 15 minutes a day. They usually balk at first, but since we are also writing, they tend to settle in and write. It’s also a quiet, calming activity before bedtime.
Kids sometimes need some prompts and reminders about the day’s activities, but once they get rolling they rarely need help hitting the 15 minute mark! Drawing or scrapbooking is a good way to use up the last few minutes of their time if they run out of words. Bringing along some travel-themed stickers can also make kids more interested in the process!
Give journaling a shot on your next trip. It’s a great way to end each day on a positive note, focusing on that day’s travel highlights. And, in the process, you’ll create a priceless travel souvenir that you’ll enjoy reading for years!
Have you kept a travel journal? Leave a comment and tell us about it! Enjoy your week or your weekend!