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What are the elements of a good travel diary/journal? journal

What are the elements of a good travel diary/journal? journal

Old Feb 6th, 2001, 08:44 AM
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What are the elements of a good travel diary/journal? journal

The travel journals I write are more important to me than any photos I take. What do you put in your journals beside immediate recollections?
Old Feb 6th, 2001, 08:54 AM
Beth Anderson
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oooooooh, great thread. I wanted to start this when I got back from my recent trip...

one thing I started - a post which was popular a while back was

"we all have 5 senses..." (from Elvira).

I started paying much better attention to my other senses. (sounds obvious, but unless something is REALLY striking - do you really think about what you are SMELLING?)

and I wrote some of those observations down...

Old Feb 6th, 2001, 11:21 AM
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Perhaps this is obvious, but I try to write in a "chatty" style as if I were talking to a friend. This keeps me focused on trying to get across the essence of the place. While I do try to keep a pretty good chronology of events, the parts I enjoy most later are the small details that evoke the place for me again.

Incidentally, there is a good example of this sort of writing on the Canada board, where Neal Sanders describes Prince Edward Island. Charming!
Old Feb 6th, 2001, 11:38 AM
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I took a glue stick and a pair of scissors and stuck all sorts of mementos and illustrations in my journal. I have tickets, postcards, menus, brochures, maps and anything else relatively small and flat. I absolutely love my journal from Italy. It was the first time I attempted such a thing and I was so glad I did.

I used not only my own thoughts, but things my husband said. And jokes that we shared, or minor things that happened. It makes a great memento.
Old Feb 6th, 2001, 12:19 PM
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I've recently befun becoming specific in journaling re: dining and I think it's kinda cool to look back to see what I ate/drank, etc. If you come across a brand name of product/wine, etc. write down the address of where it came from and you might possible be able to order it again in your life or send for it if it becomes a favorite. I try to also note temperature and weather conditions to assist in taking me back. Try to capitalize on any cues you like to help you re-live your travels.
Old Feb 6th, 2001, 12:28 PM
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I stick lots of pieces of paper in my journal too: ticket stubs, receipts, postcards, etc. I record telephone numbers and addresses of restaurants and hotels we happen onto. I include lots of observations about life around me, rather than the sights we see. I reread my travel journal often and it would be one of the things I rescued from the house in case of fire.
Old Feb 6th, 2001, 01:41 PM
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Things to include in a travel diary/journal:
**Notes on the "atmosphere" of a place, the "feel" of it. This requires stopping a moment (or more) and really absorbing what's happening around you; then recording it as best as you can. Look, listen, notice the textures of things, feel the air, breathe deep. Go on sensory alert; or, alternatively, space out a little and notice what sensory things stand out. (You don't have to get fancy in recording this stuff.)
**Sketches of things that impress you. The worst 60-second ballpoint sketch can bring back an entire experience later on.
**Details that are purely practical. Like the number of the hotel room youíre staying in.
**Little things that can be easily taped to the pages, like a bar napkin from a special cafe or the wrapper from some kind of candy special to a place. We come upon many such things in the course of traveling. I save some that really matter to me and a few that don't at the time. Later they all usually matter.
**Dreams. New experiences can prompt great dreams. If I get them, I note them down. These can really prove interesting, in a self-knowledge type of way, later on.
**Expectations and reality. Why did you decide to go to wherever you are now? What were your expectations? How different is the reality? What are you learning? Now and then, I ask myself such questions while traveling.
**"Objects of curiosity." Be curious, and record what you find out. Be on mental alert as well as sensory. Curiosity is, to me, the lifeblood of travel.
**The drama in situations--"the stories"--whether you're actively involved in the drama or not.
**The telling detail. Sometimes a few apt details open a window on an entire place.
These are just a few possibilities, and pursuing all of them all the time while traveling is virtually impossible, unless all you want to do is tend to your journal. But they're things to consider.

I think a good travel journal offers many levels of experience and, overall, conveys something meaningful and truthful about human experience. We're always travelers; life is a journey. The newness of actual travel heightens our minds and senses and can put us in a good position to "see" deeper. Hopefully, we learn something from this, incorporate it into our more mundane daily routines, and grow as people: keeping a travel journal can help us do this.
Old Feb 6th, 2001, 04:14 PM
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I always include prices of hotels and some of the meals, just for a reference for friends that want to travel in the same area...also rental car prices and location of rental agencies.
Old Feb 6th, 2001, 05:14 PM
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For my next trip I am taking a spiral bound 40 page scrapbook that isn't too big to carry, a small package of photo corners, and a good black pen. I am planning on including my tickets, menus and plenty of postcards from favorite sites. As an avid scapbooker, this will serve as a great momento and also as a resource for the scrapbook I will complete with my photos when I get home.
Old Feb 6th, 2001, 05:17 PM
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Postage stamps from the country I'm visiting. Interesting stickers or handouts from unusual airlines.
Old Feb 6th, 2001, 05:46 PM
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Love this thread....Like everyone else here, my journal is the best memory evoker of a trip. On the practical side, I always have addresses & numbers and on the flip-side I try to catch the feeling by writing down my overall impressions of anything and everything. This could be a tourist sight but more than likely it will be the more personal things....people you sit next to at the theater, the first time you see London at night, the kids playing in the park, etc. But my favorite entry in each travel journal is always the first. I begin writing when I first get the idea to go. I just love to relive the anticipation!!
Old Feb 6th, 2001, 08:37 PM
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In addition to all that other good stuff listed, I always write down walking directions to places I like. If I am obtaining directions from someone to a good place, I take out my journal, find a blank page and ask them to draw me a makeshift map. Also, I collect names & contact information of people I meet on my travels.

When I go to restaurants, I write down everything I eat & the cost...and whether the place was good or not!
Old Feb 7th, 2001, 05:18 AM
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Thanks for some great tips!
Old Feb 7th, 2001, 05:22 AM
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I always mean to keep a journal, but the book comes home blank. This year, for my stay in Paris, I did actually keep one. Learned a couple of things: title each day with main event like "Montmartre Vendange" - easier to find stuff later; use different colored pens - easier to find stuff later and perks up the creativity bent; bring a pack of mini colored pencils to add some art to your sketches and doodles; keep a small notebook, like cops and reporters use, with you to make little notes for transfer to the journal later (how many times have you passed by a store or restaurant 'oh I'll remember that' and then don't?); don't write in your journal after a bottle of wine.
Old Feb 7th, 2001, 11:24 AM
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I have to agree with Elvira. I can look at my journal and say to myself, ďI must have had one too many glasses of wine.Ē I like the idea of different color pens and sketching too. I always travel with a small spiral notebook and journal. I have my notebook with references to places to visit, restaurants, train, bus information, etc. I always write down the places Iíve eaten in, stayed in, etc with phone numbers, room numbers, what Iíve eaten, and some general comments about the places. Itís always great to pull out a journal and read it. It certainly brings back good memories. And I use my journals to provide information to others.
Old Feb 7th, 2001, 11:54 AM
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Funny, some of my favorite entries have come after one too many glasses (or bottles) of wine.
Old Feb 7th, 2001, 12:56 PM
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I always keep a travel diary when going abroad. Like Beth and some of the other posters above, I stick in dockets, tickets, postcards, spare stamps, restaurant menus, etc. to illustrate my written experiences. If I get even one day behind it's a major pain to try to catch up. My friend that I travel with has never managed to keep her diary - day one she wrote about 6 pages, then nothing. When we have disagreements about what day we went somewhere, what we ate or some such, I can consult my diary and prove I was right (I usually am, thanks in no small part to having written the diary and reading it at least once every year). It's the best memento of any trip and very personal. I usually write in a bound book with lined pages. Someone above said they were going to take a spiral bound book, but I would suggest a bound book is better, as it is less likely to have its pages come loose. Also, when I get home I cover the front and back in postcards and then with contact and put it in my bookcase. I think it's best not to write thinking about writing for an audience - write for yourself.

Another element of my diaries, though I really shouldn't say so because it's not strictly allowed, is small pressed flowers, particularly from my trips to Greece and the U.K. We are not supposed to bring plant matter back into the country, but I pressed them in my diary at the time and after many years they haven't caused any harm - they're well and truly dried now, but still retain a lot of their colour.
Old Feb 7th, 2001, 01:26 PM
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Wine labels and, well, nice round wine stains.

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