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To Journal or Not to Journal

I have a feeling that female travelers are more likely to carry a journal — an actual paper and pen type thing — during their travels. A number of guys like to journal as well, but like I said, I think that women are the ones to make it a priority.

With a large influx in the amount of people blogging as part of their normal lives, however, the joy of keeping a paper journal has been lost to some. I’d like to think that the art of keeping a paper journal in addition to the more electronic form is beneficial; there’s bound to be some details that you wouldn’t want to share with a public audience, I’m sure.

Benefits of Keeping a Journal:

  1. You don’t have to worry about an audience. The only person’s attention you need to keep is your own.
  2. You don’t have to sensor yourself. Say what you feel. Get out any stress or emotions on paper. There shouldn’t be anyone else reading it.
  3. It helps you remember the small things. The name of the person you met on a bus, or the room number in your favorite hotel.
  4. It’s a really great souvenir. Nothing like the personal touch to make something special.
  5. It’s great for passing the time of buses, planes and trains. It’s also a bit more inconspicuous than getting out the laptop to take some notes.
  6. It helps provide you with ideas to write about on your public blog later.

Downfalls of Keeping a Journal:

  1. It takes up extra space. When you are worried about carrying your life on your back, then every little bit counts.
  2. It could get lost or stolen. If you write very personal stuff in your journal, this could be a bit embarrassing.
  3. You could stop writing. If this happens, you are left with the reminder that you only did something halfway.

Do you carry a journal in your backpack, or do you think it is a waste of time and space?

17 Responses to To Journal or Not to Journal

  1. Anastasia January 6, 2011 at 6:47 am #

    I haven’t gone on trips longer than a week yet, which means I haven’t found it necessary to bring my computer with me and do blog updates! However, I do bring a travel journal and I can’t see myself stopping that practice even when I DO have my computer. Why? Because my journal is where I glue stuff! Like tea bags or tickets or other random flat paper stuff. I’m totally a packrat, especially with useless paper stuff (I used to “collect” those silly tourist pamphlets on road trips when I was younger), and sticking it in my journal at least keeps it off my bedroom floor! It all goes in my journal! If I only had my computer, I wouldn’t be able to keep that stuff with me. (I guess I could take a picture of it? But that’s not the same.)

    • Brooke January 6, 2011 at 8:04 am #

      Journals are great, and I’m the same with paper bits — always trying to tape them in my journal!

  2. Sasha January 6, 2011 at 8:57 am #

    I carry around a small notebook in my bag at all times, it acts as shopping list, random street addresses/phone numbers but most of all pages to fill when the words start flooding out of my head at the most random times. I’m lost without my notebook, I’ve been known to write on the back of receipts or any piece of paper I can find if for some stupid reason i’ve left my notebook behind!

    • Brooke January 7, 2011 at 11:20 pm #

      I am the queen of notes/lists. Must have them at all times to survive! :)

  3. Odysseus January 6, 2011 at 1:56 pm #

    Before leaving on my current trip, I actually spent my last night at my parents’ house in America handmaking two journals. It took me all night, but they’re pretty amazing ~ and it feels good to know that these journals are completely mine, from the words I write in them down to the handcut papers and handsewn signatures.

    • Brooke January 6, 2011 at 10:17 pm #

      Now that’s hardcore :) Love that you made your own journals!

  4. Linda ~ Journey Jottings January 6, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    Nothing can beat holding a notebook or piece of ephemera that you once held when standing in some far flung corner of the world ~ It totally bridges the gap across time and space – something that a blog that only ever exists in a virtual world can never do ;)

    • Brooke January 6, 2011 at 10:35 pm #

      Agreed – if you can touch it, it always seems more real :)

  5. Alouise January 7, 2011 at 3:49 am #

    I always find if I take a journal with me, I am not too diligent about writing in it. But if I don’t, then there’s always things I want to write down, but can’t. I recently but a moleskin for my next trip, it’s nice and small so it’s easy to put in my purse.

  6. Bobbi Lee Hitchon September 19, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

    On my first big trip abroad I journaled religiously and loved doing it! I would cut out bits of pamphlets or things I found and put them in. They look back at it throughout my journey. I loved that journal and know everything I did on that trip is it there. For Australia I planned it not journal and just write on my blog instead. I would just scribble some things down in a book to remember instead. I guess that is technically journaling but it doesn’t feel as nice as sitting down and just free writing everything that happened, what you really feel about it and more. I kind of censor my feeling on my website, which I’m sure most people do. I kind of want to just journal again!

  7. Sarah November 2, 2012 at 6:19 am #

    Since arriving in Korea, I’ve kept a journal almost everyday. It reminds me of how far I’ve come!

  8. Susan March 30, 2013 at 12:47 am #

    I write in a journal on all my vacation trips. I take LOTS of pictures, so having a journal helps me remember the little details about places, or funny things that I captured in a picture. I make myself write each night when travelling, so the experience is fresh in my mind. Plus they are fun to read and reminisce!

  9. Sharon August 6, 2013 at 8:19 am #

    Totally love the idea of travel journalling and have been doing so since 2011 when I went to Japan. Must admit though, that it was a couple of colleagues who got me started when I watched them pen thoughts while travelling on the shinkansen in 2010.

    Getting my first journal was quite the experience! Be it collecting commemorative stamps from the various JR train stations, entering my own thoughts & pictures, personalizing brochures and maps with my own experiences, the joys & tribulations (still cannot forget my missing the train by a mere minute when Piriton almost completely rendered me useless), all have been faithfully written into these journals have seen my collection rise to 4 as of June 2013. While they have dominantly featured Japan, Philippines has made its debut, and others probably will once I can convince myself to move past the Land of the Rising Sun (LOL).

    Because it’s mostly my happy or reflective thoughts when I’m travelling, friends and colleagues have begun to borrow for reference. While it is somewhat embarrassing that others would be interested to read what I have to say, it’s also pretty flattering. :) :) :)

  10. Suzanne February 13, 2014 at 8:09 pm #

    I always journal. I have a really cool (& heavy) journal that I use when I’m home. When I travel I buy the thin journals so not to take up space or weight. I’m a carry-on only gal & still learning some tips. But leaving my journal behind…NO WAY!!! I have been to Israel 4 times now. I now have the opputunity to share about my travels with some church friends, so you bet I’m going back through my journals to remember the things I have forgetten. Plus I’m a pen and paper freak. So its kinda fun to go to stores when traveling to see what pens & paper I can collect to use for my journaling. Plus there is nothing like purple ink to lift my spirits on a rainy day : )

  11. Angie August 5, 2014 at 2:00 am #

    I used to journal every day but I stopped. Now that I’m going on my first trip overseas in years, I’m definitely taking a journal to document all the curious things I will run across.

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