Perhaps the best piece of advice I have ever received was to make a travel journal.
Take a notebook, and make it your own.
I recently made a journal for my friend. I took a plain white journal, and painted the cover and the spine in bright, bleeding colors. I painted the bone dry desert, and pines that would burn your nose like gin; I painted peach sunsets and dirt roads disappearing in ice capped mountains. I wrote on the spine of the journal, EVERYTHING. I headed the first twenty pages with lists for him to fill out– Places I Want to Travel, Things That Make Me Incredibly Sad, Ways I Want to Grow This Year. Sometimes, the hardest part about writing in a journal is tarnishing the first clean, white page. So I went ahead and tarnished it for him.
Write however makes you happy.
Try writing in as many different ways as you can think of. Changing up your posture and your setting can completely change the ideas that flit in and out of your brain. I am sure you are thinking, isn’t this supposed to be a travel journal? Don’t I just record what I do on different days of my trip, like a day planner? The secret to a good travel journal is to remember that you are constantly traveling, in one way or another. The more you write about the small adventures, the more practiced you will be to write gracefully about the bigger ones! Try writing in a garden, beneath a tree, or curled up in a chair with a glass of wine. Try writing naked, or in a bubble bath. Write at midnight by lamplight, or by an open window. Write in cursive and in print, with different colored pens and even markers! Try illustrating the things you write. Try writing down every single thing you see as if you were from another planet, and had never seen it before. The more you reflect on seemingly mundane aspects of your day to day scenery, the more significant your scenery and your travel journal will become.
Write every day.
Especially while traveling, but even while at home– write Every Day. Even if you only write down a sentence, or a doodle. Make your travel journal a sort of companion. Confess your secrets, your wants! Write lists, even grocery lists, and quotes that inspire you. The more regularly you begin to write, the more naturally you will write when on the road.
Spare no Detail.
When I was little, my travel journals were so overwrought with adjectives that it took me hours to complete an entry. My family traveled to Greece when I was eight, and I spent three pages of my journal describing the decor of the taxi that took us to the airport. I then spent four more pages describing the inside of the airport, and countless more detailing what I ate on the plane ride. (In case you were wondering– tilapia in lemon sauce, broccoli, and a three musketeer bar.) I reread the journals when I was fifteen and I felt oddly embarrassed over the amount of irrelevant detail. But now, sixteen years after I wrote the journal entries, they are like treasures to me. Every seemingly irrelevant detail paints a vivid picture of the trip and transports me, much like a time capsule, to that day in the airport, that long plane ride, the gorgeous trip to the isle of Spetses. Simple itineraries and daily trip schedules do little to support the imagination; when you are writing a travel journal, spare no detail. Write down every meal, every exchange with friendly strangers, and how the sky looked like a fairy tale at dusk. I usually set aside fifteen minutes at the end of each day to write, while I am on a trip. Years later, you’ll be glad you did.