I’ve written about the value of keeping journals and what fabulous resources they are for storytelling. I have records about my life at every age; but it was my girlfriend who inspired me to keep a separate journal for travel. She kept one for every trip so she could remember the places, events and people she encountered. It was her way of being able to share the story of her journey with her friends and family. It was a brilliant suggestion. A few months ago I travelled through five cities in China, a whirlwind tour granting me an incredible glimpse at another country and another culture. I wrote about my days every night, and when I revisited my own journey in the pages of my journal, I discovered plenty of stories hidden beneath the surface.
I keep my travel journal separate from my traditional one. It makes it easier to find a particular moment, evoking the moods, images, scents, and sounds that may have faded over time. I can remember the amazing hike down the Grand Canyon, but may forget about the funny little woman in the hotel bar, a quirky character just lingering in the pages; I can remember the vastness of the Mighty Mississippi, but might forget about the passionate musician in the outdoor bar transporting his audience back in history. I can find in the story of my travels new characters, settings and evocative moments that can’t be duplicated.
Each time I read my travel journal I excavate a new forgotten moment; it’s like embarking on a new journey with each flip of the page.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.