Last summer, I embarked on my longest travel span yet — 3 months, from May 1 to August 1. But along with my physical journey, I embarked on a personal one as well. At the beginning of the summer, I set a challenge for myself, to write a journal entry every single day. Some days, my entries were about what I did, while others were about how I felt. Nonetheless, I now have a catalog of memories to read through and remember for years to come.
For 100 days, I wrote in a journal every day. Of course, it wasn’t perfect. Some days I was tired, impatient, or just plain uninterested. Some days I forgot. Some days I was having too much fun to make time for writing. But I made sure to catch up and write something about every day. Now, I am thanking myself profusely for doing this project, because my journal is filled with memories, feelings, and imagery that I will be able to remember forever.
Sometimes people are under the impression that writing always has to be essays and papers and theses and articles. That’s not true at all! Writing is an art and a way to document what makes each and every day unique and meaningful. Entries don’t have to be long, nor do they have to be well-written. They don’t even need to be in complete sentences! The beauty of keeping a journal is that it belongs, one hundred percent, to you.
I believe that the best souvenirs I kept through my travels and throughout the course of my life have been my writings. Especially while traveling, I think it important to have a way to preserve emotions and memories that a camera can’t quite capture. Here are a few reasons why I would encourage you to start keeping a journal today:
1. You don’t have to be consistent. Like I said, there were days I forgot and days I didn’t feel like writing. And you don’t have to force anything. If you only want to write once a week, or even once a month, or only when something really cool or important or amazing happens, then that’s perfectly fine! In fact, I would even venture to say that writing only when you want to will make your entries more meaningful and enthusiastic, and eliminates repetition. You can be just as consistent, or inconsistent, as you’d like.
2. It’s a creative outlet. Having a bad day? Feeling stressed out? Learn something new? Feeling a certain way? Well writing can help you identify and capture these emotions. It’s a really beautiful thing, being able to put feelings into words, and in turn letting your words affect how you feel. It’s a way to let out the things you’ve been thinking onto a piece of paper, or an airplane napkin, or in a journal. Writing is a way to release energy that isn’t tiring, exhausting, or stressful.
3. You are the boss. Journaling is literally one of the very few things where you can literally do whatever you want. It’s really that simple. If you want to write a five-word poem about your day, do it. If you want to write bullet points, do it. Hey, even if you just feel like drawing a picture instead of writing words, why not? Here’s your chance to document your life in any way you want.
4. It’s a tangible manifestation of your thoughts. Ever had a hard time expressing how you felt? I think everyone runs into that roadblock sometimes. But when you document travels and experiences in writing, you are making intangible things tangible. You are taking something indescribable and describing it. And when you look back on your writings retroactively, you will be able to feel the same way you did when you wrote it. You’ll remember things your memory has tucked away in the corners of your mind. And, through your entries, all of the intangible thoughts floating around in your head turn into something you’ll be able to read and share for years to come.
5. You’ll have them forever. When sifting through some of my desk drawers back at home in Virginia, I have stumbled across old journals that I have consequently spend hours reading through, sometimes smiling, sometimes crying, and sometimes realizing that I had really awesome ideas back in the day. So even if you put your journal down for a long while, you’ll always stumble upon it again and be able to read about all of the unique things you did, saw, and felt.
Obviously, I love writing or I wouldn’t be here right now! But whether you’re an English major or a person who hates writing out your sentences, I would highly recommend documenting your travels in a journal. The rewards, memories, and sentimental value of journaling while traveling is the most priceless and meaningful souvenir.