Two weeks ago, I thought I lost one of the most important things to me when my backpack was stolen—my journal.
For the past four years, I’ve written a sentence or two a day, filling the pages with adventures shared with friends, so many Rustic moments, and the little things that bring me joy every day. I was heartbroken to lose four years of memories.
Fast forward four days, and I received the happiest of phone calls from a woman who found my backpack—journal included. I danced around the room and then thought about why journaling every day adds meaning to every experience and every adventure.
I really started journaling during my first service trip to the Dominican Republic when I was 14. Five years later, I made it a daily ritual when I was a studying abroad in Spain during college. I filled up four journals that year and whenever I read them now, they take me back to 10 p.m. dinners eating tortilla española and laughing with my host family through broken Spanish.
Because journaling every day can be intimidating, I wanted to provide five tips that make it easier for me.
- Write down one memory each day.
- Jot down your thoughts in list form, if that’s how your brain works, noting things like activities, travel companions, weather conditions, etc.
- Purchase a fun pen on your travels. I don’t know about you, but recording my memories with a toucan-topped pen encourages me to write more.
- If you miss a day, don’t worry about it! Skip it, fill it in later, or tuck in a ticket stub from a bus ride, a note from a new friend, a receipt from that eco-lodge where you’re staying, or some type of paper memento from that day into your journal.
- Journal on the plane on your way home; the journey is part of the adventure!
I love documenting all of the experiences I have while traveling, and it’s important to me that I capture how I’m feeling in the moment. I reflect on the beauty I see, unexpected moments, and thought-provoking conversations. I journal to process the world around me.
My current journal was a gift from my best friend, and it’s designed for writers to jot down one to two sentences every day, with enough lines to last five years. This was a real game-changer for me. It only takes a minute each day and allows me to capture the highlights.
We’re all exhausted at the end of a day full of things activities like open-air truck rides and hours of pick-axing. But trust me, you’ll thank yourself later for taking a minute to write about the fresh mango you ate in the mountains or how you felt while holding a baby sea turtle for the first time.
My travel experiences have shaped who I am as a person—and journaling takes me back to the times that transformed my life. So start documenting your stories now! You’ll get more out of your experience while on program, and you’ll thank yourself years from now when you’re ready to relive them
Journal enthusiasts—what did I miss? Please share your tips and tricks for journaling below!
Want to try keeping a daily travel journal? It’s not too late to enroll in a Rustic summer program! If you have any questions about how to choose a program, request a call from one of our global travel experts.
Alex is a proud native of Ohio and graduate of The Ohio State University with degrees in international relations and Spanish. Through many trips to Latin America and as an exchange student in Spain, Alex speaks Spanish fluently. Alex joined Rustic in 2015 as a Program Leader in the Dominican Republic where she later managed programs. She's also led programs in Vietnam and Peru. Alex now uses her passion for experiential learning, endless optimism, and creativity on marketing initiatives for the Rustic Pathways Foundation. She also owns a small jewelry business, where she crafts bracelets with vintage sewing buttons.