Let’s face it, finding time and discipline to write well on the road can be really, really tough. Traveling takes a lot of mental stamina. At the end of a long day, once you’ve found a dinner and settled into the hostel, the last thing you have the mental juice for is thoughtful writing about the day’s events. At that point, your brain doesn’t want to process or reflect. It wants to rest. It’s checked out for the night.
But I try to force myself to journal every night on my travels. I’ve got bags full of bits and pieces from my travels sitting in my closet, but the most important physical souvenirs are the small, leather-bound journals that gather dust on a bookshelf. The journals—weathered and worn—contain the thoughts and impressions of places and experiences recorded in the moment. Some entries are shallow and quickly scribbled; some are well-thought out and insightful.
Most travelers will tell you the same thing; their journals are frayed little time capsules of emotions and experiences they wouldn’t part with for the world. Sometimes they’re written on a rickety milk run train in the countryside, sometimes they’re written while perched on a rock high in the Alps while cowbells jangle in the distance. Sometimes the entries are well-crafted insights inspired while sitting in a soaring cathedral during evensong; other times they’re scribbled late at night while the eyelids are forcing themselves closed and the synapses are shot.
It takes discipline to keep up a journal on the road, but it’s well worth it. We’ll return to the smudged pages at some point in the future and be reminded of a vivid memory, surprising impression, or fleeting thought. And we’ll be glad we had the discipline to stop and record it, even when the train ride was bumpy and the eye lids were heavy.
Pick up that pen, open the book and record a memory to cherish.