The Importance of a Travel Journal

21.03.2017

I have a box full to the brim with travel journals. The first one is filled with sloppy handwriting and letters that are three lines high. I was ten and traveling through Europe with my family. To my dismay, my mother insisted we write in our travel journals every night. I huffed and puffed about it; I wanted to go out and play, not sit in my room and write.

 

But I wrote diligently. I wrote about the castles we'd seen and the food I'd eaten. I complained about my siblings picking on me and retold my favorite jokes of the day. There's one entry in which I just wrote, "I don't want to write right now but mom is making me," over and over. 

 

The entire journal is pure gold, but my personal favorite is the page of lyrics to "The Sphincter Song," a parody of Bohemian Rhapsody that my brother and I wrote during one of the goofier moments of our vacation. One of our more inventive lines being, "I'm just a sphincter, I need no sympathy. Because I'm easy *fart noise*, easy *fart noise*". Like I said... pure gold.

 

That journal was written begrudgingly and with no awareness that it would some day be buried under countless others. Buried under excited ramblings about my first time bungee jumping and tear stained pages written during my first solo adventure. That nondescript box, tucked away amongst family scrapbooks and moth-eaten baby clothes, holds the history of all my adventures.

 

I've often said if my home burned down and I lost everything, those journals are the only things I would cry over. Those writings chronicle every step that brought me from a dreamy-eyed teenager gazing at the moon out her bedroom window to a confident adventurer trying to decide what country to make country number 34. I treasure those journals over anything else I own.

 

Recently, I was gifted my most treasured journal yet. When I hold it in my hands I am overwhelmed. It feels like a dream and just knowing that it's mine makes me tear up. Because this journal is the culmination of every word I have ever scribbled while bouncing on a Peruvian bus, crafted while sipping wine at a Parisian café, or cried over while sitting alone in a bunk bed in Ethiopia. This new travel journal is not just another travel journal, it's my travel journal.

 

It came about a few months after I published The Travel Manifesto. This manifesto is the way in which I live my adventures and it encompasses my approach as a traveler. Inspired (and generous), my good friend Tanya (and co-founder of The Enlivened Collective) transformed these words into a stunning print. Which she then turned into a poster which now hangs on my wall and a travel journal which is currently sitting on my desk, inspiring this post.

 

 

 

 

The pages of the journal are getting rapidly filled. The edges of the cover bent and torn. I carry it with me most places and treasure it the way a child treasures the first toy they buy with their own savings.

When I open a fresh travel journal, it's an invitation to explore. When I close the complete journal, it's full of my blood, sweat, and tears. A talisman of adventure and a memory that will be a part of me, forever. We recently decided to sell the Travel Manifesto and Autobiography of an Adventurer Travel Journal on Etsy.

 

When I think of someone getting this journal, I get emotional. I imagine a young girl graduating high school, about to take off on the trip of a lifetime. I see her mom or friend or sister handing her this journal. Maybe they've written a little note inside, one of love and support. She throws the journal in her backpack and runs out the door, thinking nothing of it. But a few hours later the plane lands. And she's alone. She finds her way to the hostel. Everyone is a stranger. Everything is new and different. Overwhelmed, she takes solace in pen and paper. She cracks open her journal and writes feverishly, processing her feelings in words and working her way through the emotions. With a sigh and a sense of relief, she slides the journal back into her bag with care, knowing she will carry it everywhere. In that moment she knows she is ready. Ready for an adventure.

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