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How Not to Keep a Travel Journal

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{Because we all need a little reminder that there’s no one right way to do something. And a stack of old travel journals may finally see the light of day.}


Yesterday I asked this on our Facebook page:

Facebook communities love these fill in the blank things. I didn’t draw this conclusion myself  — many have written about this.

Here are some of the responses from members of The Travel Belles facebook page (they are a group of smart, kind, gorgeous and funny people: You should join us!):

Smart group and lots of good advice, don’t you think? I have found that among the notable things that Travel Belles seem to have in common are a lot of opinions and a hint of a rebellious streak. (I sense that several people who know me well would smirk at the use of that mild-mannered word, “hint.”)

And besides, when it comes to something as personal as travel journaling, how can we be breaking any rules, if there aren’t any ?

I appreciate each and every one of the above tips because they are so  diverse… not every tip will work for everybody. Maybe as Judith Works brought up, your best way of recording your trip is with a camera; or as Christina Annaheim suggests, be sure to bring a glue stick for collecting things. I’ve witnessed people before who have barely strung a sentence together in writing since college, suddenly decide it’s time to start a travel journal on the day they get to Paris. It felt as if they were doing a penance for buying some beautiful bound thing in the Louvre gift shop and into someone else’s ideal of “should.”

At its best travel journaling  forces me to take a step back from a travel experience while I am still immersed in it. Getting started is never an easy task, but once I am sitting in a cafe somewhere for a bit, invariably as soon as I put pen to paper in one of my own beautiful bound books full of empty pages ,with an amazing morning behind me, I’m in heaven. (BTW, I love the advice that Christina Fields gives, about sketching out symbols, signs and details. I’m going to have to try that one.)

Here are my personal rules for keeping a travel journal: 1. My journal must be approximately 5″ x 7″ – not too small for my handwriting and not too big for my purse. 2. And as Hannah Matro said, I must write in it.

My three rules for travel journaling: 1. must be approximately 5″ x 7″ 2. must write in it. 3. really, you must write in it

Based purely on several nights reading until the wee hours of the morning, my travel journals from over the past 20 plus years, I am reminded that there is nothing like reading something you have no memory of writing to take you back to a moment in time. When I have returned home from trips, I have used them for getting the little magic, or special detail down in any writing projects. But frankly, there’s a lot of stuff in there that I still want to share.

So for whatever reason I have named this category of my brand new blog here on The Travel Belles, “How not to Keep a Travel Journal.” It’s a bit of an experiment, but when at its best, at the heart of  what I intend to share, are glimpses of the small little beauties I seek through this thing so many of us love called Travel (uppercase intentional.)

Life forms illogical patterns. It is haphazard and full of beauties which I try to catch as they fly by, for who knows whether any of them will ever return? 
Margot Fonteyn


Really, you must write in it.

So what is your experience with recording your travels? Any special memories that have stuck with you because you took time to write something down, take a pic or keep a memento?

The Spiffed-Up Travel Journal Project: 

#1 Florence, Italy

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About the author

Margo Millure lives in Richmond, Virginia. She is a portrait photographer, writer and founder of Travel Belles. Learn more about her at

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