You Should Keep a Travel Journal

PC: Gideon HadenNot many people keep a journal these days. Sure, there are plenty of people who have a blog, but you don’t want to haul your laptop around with you on the trail, not to mention the spotty internet connection.

However, keeping an adventure journal in your pack ensures that you always have access to a pen and pad to document your travels and reflect on your experiences. Here are a few reasons why you should start keeping a travel journal.

Keeping a journal gives you something to do at the end of the day. We’ve all experienced a short day, when you finish your hike, climb, or float a few hours before the sun goes down. Unless you brought a deck of card, or feel like building up a fire, you’re just waiting around until it’s dark enough to go to sleep. A travel journal lets you recap your day’s adventures while they’re still fresh in your mind. It’s a good way to decompress and solidify your memories. It’s also a great way to pass the time in the dwindling daylight hours.

It can be a lot of fun to look back at your journal and remember the adventures that you had. There are only so many memories you can keep in your head before the details start to get a little fuzzy. Having a written account will provide a good reminder for your experiences. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but that picture might not tell the whole story 20 years after it’s been taken. A journal that recaps all the memorable moments of a trip provide a story for you and anyone else who might read your journal in the future.

So you’re sold on keeping a journal. Now what?

Always pack your notebook or journal as well as a pen or pencil to take with you. If you don’t have a weatherproof notebook and pen, store your writing materials in a Ziploc bag or waterproof pouch. Also be sure that your journal is easy to find and easy to reach. The easier it is to access, the more likely you will remember to use it.

Some experiences aren’t as exciting as others. There are only so many times you can use the phrase, “____ was amazing”, or ” ____ was incredible” before it starts to sound a little insincere. If you have a particularly uneventful day, write something else. A short story, a poem, or draw a sketch of the things that you saw during that day. This can be a nice change of pace from the literal recapping of your travels.

Keep in mind that your journal doesn’t have to be a bland account of what you saw. Spice things up a bit. Use imagery and colorful language. Embellish if you feel like it. Have fun with it!

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