Do you love to travel? I certainly do. How do you remember the places you see and the experiences you have?

Now I suspect you or someone you travel with take lots of photos. Digital cameras and smart phones give us the ability to be completely snap happy. I know I certainly was in Iceland recently.

But what about the story part of your experience? Are you one of those people who take notes every day/night in a travel journal? Some people are really committed to doing this, sitting down and writing in their journal.

I’m not that diligent. Oh I definitely write down notes but they are typically 3-4 words about each event, just enough to remind me of the memory. Then I go back later and add more detail. I’ll be honest sometimes it can be a month later but that’s fine, because I do remember. I write my scribble notes in pencil so I can then write on the same page in ink and then just erase the pencil.

The image above is from Mike Rohde’s second book called the Sketchnote Workbook. It was really fun to be included in this excellent book. He shares examples and illustrates how to and where you can use sketchnotes. Clearly these travel pages weren’t done ‘in the moment’. They represent a collection of stories from each of the special places I explored.

Bamfield adventures July 2012 travel journalAdding a little sketch to your travel journal page does two things. First of all it takes up space on the page so you don’t have to write so much. Secondly, it makes the page more interesting to look at and read.

Ultimately that’s why you create a little journal in the first place, so when you are sitting in your living room on a cold damp night you can pull out your book and relive your adventures! It will warm you up and is great reading for sure.

Another strategy I have used is to individually scan my travel journal pages and turn them into jpeg files. When I create a photo book these ‘story images’ become something that easily slips onto a page with my photos adding variety and the story. Here’s an example of what I mean.

Another important benefit – when you’ve created a journal about your travels your memory recall of details that happened is much sharper. You’ve taken the time to process and reinforce the experience. This etches the journey into your memory bank. John Gimlette, an English award–winning travel writer and author suggests “Give your notes a truly foreign feel with plenty of local words and names. Remember to record smells and sounds; they can be as evocative as sights when you are trying to recall the scene later.” This article in Condé Nest reinforces what I’m talking about.

If you want help creating a travel story booklet from your past adventures, send me a note and let’s chat about it. With summer in full swing, it’s definitely time to get outside with a sketchbook. I’m looking forward to doing more of that over the next month or so. I would love to see images from your travel journal. And if you’re starting to think about fall courses, please do check out my Map a Memory workshop. It’s a small class and is starting to fill up.

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