A travel journal not only collects wonderful holiday memories but also explores the thoughts that you're having, writes Juliette Sivertsen
My earliest memories of keeping a travel diary involve brown paper scrapbooks stuffed with postcards and scribbles of family road trip adventures.
In my teenage years, my travel journal consisted of not only a summary of events but a mention of which cute boy from the Paris bakery smiled at me that day.
A trip to India in my early 20s revealed deep and at times painful thoughts while recounting the experience of my time as a volunteer.
I've kept travel journals off and on through the years, each one a little different, each one revealing a point in time during my life. Not just an experience, but a mindset. Journals help reveal our histories.
Loren Tomlinson is a mindset and life coach in Auckland, who runs mindful journaling workshops.
She says keeping a diary allows us not only to reflect on the past but also to ground us and centre us in the present moment.
"It gives you the opportunity to explore the thoughts that you're having, the physical experiences, and it allows you to dive deeper and ask more questions of yourself - what's going on for me mentally, what's going on for me physically, spiritually? And just dive into it a little bit deeper than you usually would if it was just a passing thought."
And that's why a travel diary is more than just a collection of memories. It can also help us gain perspective, says Tomlinson.
"When you reflect on it, you can step right back to that moment you were in, not only what happened, but what you were seeing, what you're feeling, smelling, touching. It's giving you the full picture of how you were feeling in that exact moment."
In more recent years, my travel diary has been in the form of photos and videos shared on social media - a wonderful collection of memories, but with little insight into what I was going through internally.
"If we're posting photos on social media, it's all the highlights. It's never the moments that we struggled or had some deep insight," says Tomlinson. "Keeping a travel journal is something that's really personal and meaningful to each individual and it allows you to have that opportunity to be a little more vulnerable with yourself than you normally would if you were just creating imagery and videos for the sake of showing others."
Even the act of physically writing something down on paper can help slow our thought processes and calm the mind.
"It also allows us to prioritise things in our lives and figure out what is and isn't important to us, whether or not it's important in general or just in the moment."
Loren Tomlinson's tips for effective travel journaling
Take a deep breath
Before you even put pen to paper, take a deep breath. There's no formula to follow, you don't need to start with "Dear Diary", there's no set process, or right or wrong. Just breathe to ground yourself in that present moment.
Start with where you are right now
What are you doing right now? Where are you and what can you see? Write it down. Or maybe do a big brain dump of everything you've done that day, or need to do. Start with the facts. Or perhaps there's some meaningful experience you've had. Starting can be the hardest part - but often once you have, the rest just flows.
Aim for honesty, not perfection
You don't need to make your journal entries perfect. Bullet journals and beautifully decorated pages may look nice, but they can encourage perfection that takes away from the raw, authentic experience of what a journal should be. The basic purpose of keeping a travel journal is to give yourself a chance to process what's happening to you at that time, and the opportunity to reflect on it at a later date.
Questions on keeping good mental health when travelling? Email email@example.com or find me on Twitter at @j_sivertsen