I’ve been a writer and a traveler for a long time, so it would follow that I keep good travel journals, full of stories and scenarios.
The truth is, when traveling, I rarely have the time or patience to sit still long enough to write a long diary entry chronicling my adventures.
Still, keeping a record of my journeys is important to me. So I developed a series of writing exercises to help capture experiences while traveling.
Here are three ways to play with words on the road without having to write tomes.
I love this one; it’s a treat for vocabulary mavens. In your travel journal, write out the alphabet, leaving room on the page for more words. Your mission is to collect ten words for each letter.
They can be in any language but they have to pertain to your adventure. For instance, you can’t put xylophone in the x slot if a xylophone hasn’t been seen or discussed.
This is a fun game to play with your travel pal. It’s a great way to capture linguistic memes – those words that become part of your trip’s story through repetition and jokes.
Be sure to record: names of people you met, new vocabulary in another language, restaurants, streets, and anything you want to remember.
Word sketches allow you to capture a scene quickly without having to tell the full story. No need for complete sentences or fully formed thoughts – it’s jotting, like an artists draws a sketch.
Here’s one I did in Paris:
Billie Holiday, skinny waitress with sculpted cheeks. Clatter of cups, grating gathering silverware. Friends have a lot to say. Café crème, carafe of water. Three pens, three notebooks. My afternoon.
It’s helpful to date and mark the location of the word sketch, and if you’re feeling it, add an accompanying drawing for a visual touch.
I love lists for how quickly and easily they allow me to sort all the input I’m receiving. As a travel blogger, I need to have my facts straight, and it’s important to me to be specific in my posts.
Lists help track the details. Try listing:
- People you met
- Things you’re inspired to do back home
- Places to visit
- Types of food you ate: cheeses, beers, pastries…
- Favorite works of art seen
- Things you fell in love with
- Books to read
Not your ordinary to-do lists, this way of capturing travel’s magic is deceptively simple but rewarding.
Here’s my list, Why I love Amsterdam:
- Bike city extraordinaire
- Canals – watery arteries
- Divine design
- Quiet side streets
- Svaha yoga studio
- French fries
- Good food
- Van Gogh
- Mellow vibe
- Fantastic shops
- Art everywhere
- Art nouveau architecture…
When can you find time to jot all this down in your journal? I record snippets in these pockets of time:
- Over coffee in the morning
- During my afternoon café break
- Traveling between countries on the train
- While waiting for public transportation
Use these creative approaches while on the road. Don’t wait until you’re back home to record it all. (You know you’ll never get to it!) Keeping a journal this way helps you appreciate and absorb more while traveling.
Since I’ve added these and other creative travel keys to my journeys, my notebooks tell so much more about my experiences I use the Moleskine Japanese album to capture the essence of my trips. It’s a fun way to see my journey unfold. I hope your time on the road and your time afterward are enriched by these creative travel tips!