Always Track Your Travel Journeys in a Diary

Saturday, July 15, 2017

All travel journeys are unique - people see the world through their own eyes, and they have different experiences and different stories.

Not having a story to tell when you come home, is probably the worst thing that can happen to your trip. That means your journey was too boring, too dull to remember the details. When you return from your trip, family and friends want to hear your adventures, and years later you’ll want to share them with your kids and new acquaintances.

Wouldn’t it be great if you to have something written down, to refresh your memories so many years later?

Writing down your thoughts improves your awareness

So what’s the point of a travel diary?

Most trips do leave lasting memories, but by writing down some simple notes, you’ll likely have those memories burned even deeper into your brain. That can be especially helpful if your trip is jam packed full of experiences.

Personally, I was fortunate enough to travel through thirty countries in a three-month timeframe - mostly in Eastern Europeinfo-icon. I can give you a pretty accurate storyline of what I did during that time. That’s not because I read my notes that often, but because I usually recite my trip in a similar way to how I wrote it down.

Writing down what’s on your mind, frees your brain to think of other things, like what’s happening in that moment. Scribbling some things on paper will push thoughts to your long-term memory.

Finding the right details that are of value for your purpose

Of course, there are no set rules as to what you should write down, it’s YOUR diary. But here are some ideas to help you get started:

  • Date and location are the fundaments of travel journeys. When have you been where? This is the most basic information, and particularly helpful if you’re traveling a lot. It’s easy to overlook, but writing this down, will help you remember the details around a certain place. I go the extra mile, writing down everything from restaurants and cafes, to smaller points of interest (POIs).
  • Events and important people. Which people came with you to sights and activities? Did you meet anyone new? Try to find a good balance of facts and details. Sometimes listing what you did that day is enough, but sometimes you might want to add a personal memory, like an inside joke.
  • Your thoughts and feelings. What was your impression of a place, a person or just a day in general? This might be one of the most important things. I tend to obtain feelings from facts, but then lose some of the details. Focus on your true feelings, what touched you in particular.


What is the best time and place for you to take notes?

Large white board at school representing how to take notes.

Find your own rhythm, the right interval to work on your travel journeys. Don’t wait too long, you want to write down your thoughts while they’re still fresh. You can create a daily ritual, like writing before you go to bed.

What also often works for me, is writing during ‘down time’, like when I’m waiting for the bus, sitting in a restaurant or on a ski-lift. Next, decide what you want to take notes on. I like the digital world, and I’ve always got my smartphone by my side. My notes automatically get synced with the cloud.

No shame though if you’re more ‘old-fashioned’: A good friend of mine keeps tabs on his little booklet, writing with a good old sharp pencil. I will say that a smartphone has its benefits. Not only will I never lose my notes, but I can bookmark the places I visit on a map ( and are good options).

Everybody has their own unique writing style. My notes are mostly short and data-focused. I believe my memory will be triggered when I read the facts, but that might be misleading.

Decide for yourself what’s good, just make sure not to write too much!

Travel journeys have helped me to remember great experiences

When I first traveled to Chinainfo-icon by myself, I filled my paper notebook to the brim. When I read it years later, it was a real revelation to recap all those major experiences, some of which I had completely forgotten!

Only years later, I realized how little I enjoyed the Zoo in Beijing, gazing at lethargic and yellow-furred Pandas. It also reminded me of the scenic ride up the Great Wall on an outdated Swiss ski-lift. And the drive back to Beijing, when I falsely feared to have left my phone up the wall. That short moment, when I envisioned a life without being connected.

Just like that, I was back in this magical adventure, and was able to revive it through the eyes of a younger, less-experienced version of myself!

Since I quit my job and became a full-time traveler, I’ve kept my own daily diary. It’s the only way I can keep track of the countless memories I have from my travel journeys. Now, I look up details all the time, navigating my notes by place and time.

To summarize, keeping a diary is a great way for you to improve your stories and experiences of your travel journeys. Your notes and writing style are as personal as your actual trip. Find your style, the format you like, and use those notes to tell your individual story. Go on as many travel journeys as you can, and keep those memories forever!