When it comes to keeping a travel journal, I always have the greatest of intentions. Unfortunately, what starts off with a bang usually ends in a whimper around day 3 or 4 of my travels. Then it becomes hit and miss. Some days I sit down and write, other days I never even pick up a pen.
The only time I actually managed to journal consistently was during the year I spent working in Saudi Arabia. And it wasn’t even what you could call proper journalng. Instead it was regular, often daily, long and drawn out emails and postcards to friends and family ranting and raving about events, places, and people.
But with a three month travel stint on the horizon, I am once again determined to keep a travel journal. Only this time, I am enlisting the help of two travel journal experts – Dave Fox and Lavina Spalding. Successful travel writers, they have both recently published books on how to write great travel journals.
In Globejotting, Dave Fox hilariously combines his own travel journal excerpts with advice and writing exercises. The book’s first paragraph ‘You’re going on a big trip? Woohoo! The rest of us are very jealous’ sets the tone. And very quickly, without even realizing it, you are pulled into Dave’s travel journaling mind set so that by the end of the book, you have all the tools and understanding needed to create a great travel journal.
So how do you become a journaling super-hero (Dave’s words, not mine)?
Well, according to Dave the first step is to learn the technique of speed journaling, as in ’don’t think. Just write’. Of course, given that we all have inner censors that want us to edit and think, the ‘don’t think. just write’ concept is always much easier said that done. But Dave has that covered with a whole chapter on ‘eluding your inner censor’ – in a nutshell, he suggests you send it on a separate holiday.
That done, Dave highlights the importance of using all five of your senses – touch, smell, sound, sight, and taste – to capture your journey. Mostly, only one or two of our senses are dominant at a time and they are the ones that we end up writing about. But taking a moment or two to focus on the other senses will provide a more rounded, in depth experience.
And for those having trouble with the traditional chronological travel journal, Dave suggests jumping outside the box and using alternative techniques such as verbal verbal snapshots - live action reporting of a single moment in your travels, using all your senses to create a ‘photograph of words’
These are only a few of the many useful techniques that award winning travel humorist Dave Fox outlines in Globejotting. And when I wasn’t laughing out loud at Dave’s own travel journal entries, I was busy scribbling down ideas on how to maintain momentum with my next travel journal.
Who knew writing a travel journal could be so much fun?
(stop by on Wednesday for Part Two of ‘Writing Great Travel Journals’ which will feature a review of Writing Away by Lavina Spalding)