Travel is broadening, exciting – and patently overwhelming, especially when it involves visiting a lot of places in a short period of time. Whether it’s a sleepy village in the Austrian Alps, or the hustle and bustle of New York City, it can be hard to process the experiences and commit them all to memory. Keeping a travel blog or diary (or “travelogue”) s a great way to commemorate and celebrate time spent traveling, and so here are ten ideas for how to maintain a travelogue.
- Make time. It sounds simple, but after a long day of walking around absorbing new sights and sounds, it can be very tempting to give into exhaustion and relax instead. Resist the urge to lay down and instead, whether your chosen medium is a notebook or a smartphone keyboard, sit down, take a deep breath, and make the effort to record everything while it’s still fresh.
- Carry your travelogue with you all the time – time spent on a train, a bus, or even sitting in a park can be a wonderful time to reflect on what’s happened so far, or to make sketches and absorb the experience and then put it to paper or pixels, whichever works for you.
- Take pictures and videos everywhere. Not only is it a fantastic way to make memories last, but it can also be helpful to jog your memory later on when you’re trying to describe something or even just remember the order of how things happened in a day.
- Consult your senses – Paris and Manhattan are going to smell and sound very different from each other, the foods you eat will feel and taste different, the language you hear and the landmarks you see will be different. So make sure you use all of your senses when writing about where you’ve been, to help make it vivd and unique.
- Don’t be afraid to pause what you’re doing to reflect. There is always going to be a place for you to stop what you’re doing and just enjoy the moment, to bask in what it means to just be somewhere different than what you’re used to. Sometimes the greatest moments of clarity and reflection come from pausing to breathe and be, so take time for those too.
- Write about what the locals are doing and take time to ask them their thoughts on where you are. I was in Belgium during their National Day celebrations, and there was a concert going on, so I asked someone dancing next to me what was happening, and the enthusiasm with which they explained it to me told me just as much as their words and helped me get a real sense of what I was experiencing.
- Remember that it’s about the journey, too – so write about how you got from place to place if you’re visiting multiple locations. There are quirks to be found like cog-wheel trains and propeller airplanes that definitely are worth noting and make for funny stories!
- Don’t worry too much about how and when you broadcast the information if you choose to do so. You don’t owe anyone editorials of your days with time-stamps – absorb the experience and write about it in a way that works for you. If big long narratives every three days is what works for you, then do that. There is no wrong way to keep a travelogue once you commit to doing it!
- Do not stress about this process! You aren’t writing a travel guide, you are writing about your own experiences for you and (maybe) an audience of your peers. You’re allowed to have typos, run-on sentences, and to not always make sense – it’s a matter of capturing an experience, not polishing it for publication!
- Write anything. Write everything. There is nothing too small or too weird to write about because it all forms the tableau of your experience. A palace and a comment that a friend made to you that cracked you up can both be worth noting because they both were a part of the experience. Don’t worry about censoring yourself or making it picture-perfect – instead focus on making it real, and embrace the freedom that comes with that!
Life is a journey, not a destination, so approach your travels and travelogue the same way. It’s not about where you end up – with a publishable travel memoir or at the ballroom of Versailles – but about the path that took you there. Whether by dusty train, or meandering notebook pages with coffee stains and arrows, travel is truly all about the journey. Bon voyage, and happy writing!