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Travel Journals: The Ultimate Souvenir

By Dave Fox

Every journey has two parallel experiences — the external, in which we observe the world around us, and the internal, in which we visit new places within ourselves. When we weave these two journeys together through our writing, we end up with vivid accounts of our trips — keepsakes that help us remember our travels for years to come. A travel journal is the ultimate souvenir.

Dave Fox, author of “Globejotting: How to Write Extraordinary Travel Journals (and still have time to enjoy your trip!),” scribbles a few notes in a hot air balloon over Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka.

The word, “souvenir,” comes from the French verb for “to remember.” A souvenir is a memory. What do we usually think of when we think of souvenirs? I think of the T-shirt vendors who hang out outside the Colosseum in Rome. For five euros (or the equivalent in US dollars or Japanese yen), they’ll sell you a T-shirt with a sketch by Michaelangelo or a picture of the Colosseum. Tourists go crazy over these cheap “souvenirs.” They think they’re a bargain. Then they take them home, put them in the washing machine, toss them in the drier, and when they take them out, their souvenir shirts have shrunk so much, they won’t even fit a cat. And we call that a memory?

Travel journals don’t shrink. They endure. They help our journeys resonate in our minds for years to come.

When people travel, one of the most important items on their packing list — second only to clean underwear — is usually a camera. We travel to new places and we want to bring back memories. I have always loved photography, but on a trip several years ago, I realized that my camera wasn’t enabling me to document the full experience of my travels. Taking pictures deals exclusively with what we see. When we journal, on the other hand, we can write down all of our senses — not only what we see, but also what we hear, smell, taste, feel, and so on. We can describe the people we meet and the places we visit. And more importantly, whereas photography allows us only to look outward, in a travel journal, we can also capture what’s going on in our mind.

This series of articles and exercises is designed to help you get more out of your travel journaling. After you read through the articles here, there are travel journaling exercises you can try at home to help you practice, and hone your writing skills before your next trip.

“Dave Fox understands how journaling can help that great trip become a candy jar of memories that you can dip into for the rest of your life. And his book tells how.”
– Rick Steves
PBS TV host and author of “Europe Through the Back Door”

These articles originally appeared on my TravelJournaling.com website. They eventually led to the publication of my book, Globejotting: How to Write Extraordinary Travel Journals (And Still Have Time to Enjoy Your Trip). You can order autographed copies on this website. The book is also available at great book stores everywhere. (If your local bookseller doesn’t have it in stock, they can special-order copies through the Partners, and Baker & Taylor book distributors.) And… you can also download the e-book edition for Amazon Kindle.

For more information on my online travel writing and humor writing classes, or to hire me to speak at your group’s event, please see my Classes page. And for all of my latest articles, classes, and more, sign up for my free e-mail newsletter with the form on the right hand column of this page.

All types of journaling can teach us a lot about ourselves. But as you’ll read in these pages, travel journaling is special. Travel changes us and frees our personalit)es in ways that don’t happen when we’re at home.

I hope you enjoy these articles and exercises. If you have questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you. Send me an e-mail!

Happy Journaling!

— Dave Fox

Follow These Links for More Travel Journaling Articles:

Travel Journaling Exercises:

Published on Thursday, January 1, 2004

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