Whenever I travel – whether its a long weekend getaway or a trip outside the US – I cease my daily creative writing routine (for the most part) and instead spend my allotted time each day scribbling in my travel journal.
There is a delight in carrying a notebook as you tour a distant town or coastline, stopping occasionally to write your impressions or to sketch your surroundings. What you have with a notebook is not a camera or a map, but instead you have a tool that expects you to develop a skill. The skill of interpreter. You are not simply taking, you are leaving something behind – a record. You are interacting. You are a writer.
In my travel journals (I’m on my second volume now) I have an etching from Henry Thoreau’s grave, a page of signatures of Mexican orphans, a drawing of a southern Irish countryside, and (tucked in the back) a chart of common fish caught off the gulf coast of Florida.
Of course there is a practical value to keeping a travel journal as well. I know that it was on August 4, 2011 that we drove from Carmel down Highway1 to Big Sur. I also know that on the weekend of July 13, 2014 we discovered the quaint beauty of Westerville, Ohio, the home of Otterbein College.
Travel journaling causes you to develop new writerly muscles. And it later serves to aid the memory.
Who among us could not benefit from a bit of both?