Last week, while traveling in Southwest Florida, I did my daily writing in my travel journal. I started keeping a travel journal in 2006, not long after reading about “special purpose journaling”, specifically Ronald Reagan’s journal, kept from the first day to the last day of his presidency. My travel journal has been with me as I hiked through Mammoth Cave, drove the southern coast of Ireland, and traversed such places as Niagara Falls, The Smokies, Carolina Beach NC (hats off to Britt’s Donuts), Northern California (including City Lights Bookstore and the Pacific Coast Highway), Geneva Switzerland (sadly, on business), and all over my home-sweet-home, the Mid-West.
It has taken me some time to figure out how to travel journal. The tendency is to retrospectively, at the end of each day, record my itinerary. While this is useful – I know what we did on the third day of our cabin rental in Rockbridge, Ohio in April 2012 – my reflections while driving past cotton fields in Georgia are really what I’m after. Those times when the journal is open and I’m writing in real time are when the best I have to offer is captured. I don’t have it mastered. The content in my journal is about 50/50. Hindrances to the better journaling are flying (one’s sense of having traveled is muddled, somehow false) and being behind the wheel (kills the real time thing). It is also a challenge when returning to a place I’ve already been once or twice before. But it is practice in looking deeper.
If you don’t do so already, you should keep a travel journal. Your thoughts when you are away are different and potentially innovative. The inputs you receive while you are out of the house will bring you insights you would not otherwise have had and you’ll find that capturing these will add another dimension to your (writing) life.