It’s summer and I’ve just completed six weeks of travel for work, family, and vacation. I’ve traveled to Blacksburg and Charlottesville in Virginia to pick up my kids from their colleges, Smithfield, VA—home of the Smithfield hams, Annapolis, MD for a Naval Academy graduation, New Orleans, and Ireland. It’s been fun and exhausting, but I’m glad to be home. After I do the laundry and put away the suitcases, and take a nap, one of my favorite things to do is review my travel journal.
Whether or not I spend one night or ten in a place, I always record everything in my travel journal: names of hotels, restaurants, interesting sights, people I’ve talked to, random details and even doodles. While it can feel like work, when I get home I’m always so happy that I’ve kept a record of where I’ve been and how I felt and even what I ate.
Here are a few reasons why I love keeping a travel journal:
1. I take a ton of photos and store them on a Google drive when I get home to eventually share on Social Media (I never post while I’m traveling. I’m too paranoid). But when I get home, I print out my favorites and stick them into my journal. After each day, I always keep a few pages blank specifically for my photos. Sometimes I also add things like pressed flowers from a New Orleans courtyard, a napkin from an Irish tea shop, or a ticket to see the D-Day Memorial in Virginia.
2. I always record my day, including where I’ve stayed and eaten. I describe places I’ve seen and the people I’ve met. I try to include obscure details like strange smells and unusual foods—things I know I’ll forget once I’m home.
3. I love to sketch, even though I’m horrible at it, and it’s a fun way to keep my memories. Once I’m done with my doodles, I ask my kids to identify what I’ve drawn and write down in the journal what they think they see. They’re never right, but it’s always fun to be mocked by the young.
4. The other thing I love about having a journal is that I never mind eating alone. Once I’m served, I sit and observe and write the world around me.
5. Although I record my day, I also keep notes on the people I’ve met. Most people don’t carry business cards so I track names, numbers, and people with whom I’d like to stay in touch.
6. Keeping a journal gives me a complete, detailed itinerary of our trip I can share with others who are planning their own trip. I’ve also used my diaries when I’ve revisited cities years later to remind me of things I liked and didn’t like.
7. I always leave space for to-do lists for things I need to remember while I’m traveling such as buy day-of theater tickets or next-day museum tickets or make dinner reservations in the next city. It’s amazing what you can forget while traveling.
8. Since I’m always talking to people when I travel, I keep a separate section of the journal for must-dos. Things that aren’t on my itinerary or in my guide book that I learn about from others and decide to see. I even track things that will inspire me to take a future trip to a new place.
9. I write down all of my financial transactions. Although I keep my receipts, I still keep a running tab of every expense and ATM withdrawal, as well as the daily exchange rates. That way there are no surprises when I get home and open my credit card bill! I also keep track of things I buy that I may have to list for U.S. Customs (depending on the country I’m in).
10. Most important, don’t write in your journal as if others are going to read it. Be as irreverent, funny, whiny as you want. Years later, you will appreciate your own candor!
Tips for travel journals:
Keep it small, light-weight, and with a soft cover.
A journal with lined paper makes things easier.
Carry a few pens that write well. Add in a charcoal pencil for drawings.
Bring a glue stick to add in ticket stubs and random Polaroid photos.
Don’t worry about getting it wet or covered in sunscreen. The point is to record your real life—the things that really happened—not create some fake trip you think others will enjoy hearing about.
This journal is for you, your kids, and grandkids. It’s supposed to be messy, imperfect, and fun. It’s a record of where you went, the things you’ve seen, and the kind of life you’ve lived. It’s a record of who you were and how and why you became the person you were meant to be!
I hope you all have a safe summer and happy travels!
One Dark Wish
September 24, 2019
Military ~ Romantic Suspense/Thriller
"Sexy Green Berets, dark secrets, and sizzling chemistry."—Cherry Adair, New York Times bestselling author
Her life must be forfeit for his to be redeemed
Historian Sarah Munro is not used to being shot at, but that's just what happens while she's poking around cemeteries on Georgia's Isle of Grace, searching for the key to a centuries-old cipher. Her quest has unwittingly drawn the attention of two deadly enemies intent on destroying each other—and anyone who gets in their way.
Ex–Green Beret Major Nate Walker is on a mission of his own: to restore the honor of his men. To do that, he is required to stop Sarah—or one of his own men will die. Caught in the middle of a deadly rivalry, Nate can't afford to trust the woman standing in his way. But his heart says he can't afford not to...
Sharon is a librarian who once studied dress design in the couture houses of Paris and now writes of novels of suspense, adventure, and love. A wife, mother of twins, and caretaker of Donut the one-eyed dog, she’s addicted to snapping photos and eating Oreos. She writes about the men in her Deadly Force romantic suspense series where ex-Green Berets and their smart, sexy heroines retell Shakespeare’s greatest love stories.