Thursday, September 4, 2008

In Your Own Words

Travelers like to document their experiences. They put stickers on their suitcases, they take photos of famous monuments, and they save things like restaurant cards, matchbooks and ticket stubs. Many of them also keep journals, which are a great way to track all of the emotions, strange happenings and chance encounters that occur while traveling. Now, I've never been big on regrets; what's done is done and even if it turned out badly you can still learn and grow from the event. But I have to say that I'm starting to regret not having kept a journal during my time in Paris. Without a written account to refresh my memory, I worry that all those emotions, strange happenings and chance encounters will slowly, sadly slip away from me.

Now, I know what you're thinking: "But you did keep a journal, you have your blog!" I thought that too at one time. In fact, my blog is the reason why I didn't keep a journal. I thought a written journal in addition to a blog would be repetitive. Wouldn't I already have a record of everything online? Why would I need to write it down again on a piece of paper? And my reasoning would have been correct...if I had created a different kind of blog. Parisian Spring is, by design, relatively unpersonal. It's also low on details about daily activities. I wanted to blog that would discuss cultural differences, traveling issues, and sightseeing in France. Details such as the names of people I met and what I ate for breakfast on the morning of May 23 were left out. That kind of information isn't very interesting to others, but it is to me, and I wish I had kept a record of it.

I have a small collection of journals from other travel adventures and they are among my most prized possessions. Every once in a while I take them off the shelf and sift through to reminisce about times spent on the road. I like being reminded of what I was thinking, feeling and enjoying during those unique periods in my life. If you're planning a trip, whether it be for one year or one week, consider taking along a pen and some paper. Journaling is a great way to start or end your day. It helps you organize your thoughts, and the end result is a fantastic self-made souvenir. I don't at all regret the style I chose for my blog. It works for me, and I've enjoyed everything about working on it. But I do regret not taking along a traditional paper journal. The next time I prepare for a trip, a smart, spiral-bound book with plenty of blank pages will be the first thing I buy.


Nomadic Matt said...

I disagree. I keep a journal and a blog. I keep the journal because I put far more personal stuff in their. There are some stuff you just don't want on the web. Journals and blogs don't have to overlap....they can a bit but am I telling everyone about my personal relationships on the blog? No. There's some stuff that is private and that's where a journal comes in.

Jessica said...


Similarly, I regret not journaling my thoughts throughout all of my journeys.

On most of them I did have some sort of a journal, but seemed to never have it with me when I needed it the most. It would have been great to have had it while I experienced a really cool moment while walking through the city, or when I spent an hour at a café people watching. I suggest a pocket sized journal- or something that will fit easily in a bag, not a large journal that you will only write in when you are back at your accommodation, because…who knows when you will get around to it 

Tanya said...

Matt: I'm not telling everyone about my personal life on the blog either, that's the point. I never wanted to do that, so I should have been keeping a journal as a way to put some of those thoughts into writing.

Jessica: Good tip about carrying the journal around with you. Some of the best journal entries are about things you're experiencing live!