I’m not sure who or what prompted me to keep a diary during my trip to France in 1979, but I’m sure glad I did. Without it, my book, French Illusions, probably never would have been written.
It really doesn’t matter what kind of diary, or journal, you choose to take with you, just make sure it has plenty of space to recount a busy day on the road. There are lots of different options available today. Some people may choose to journal their trip on a computer or smart phone. Trip Journal, for example is a highly rated app for iphone, Android, and Facebook. Rated #1 by Google, Trip Journal allows the user to track, record, document and share travel data with friends and family. If you prefer the old-fashioned method of recording a trip by hand, Real Simple has a great selection of travel journals priced from $10 to $80. One of these journals, allows the traveler to plot their route across a map on the front of the cover. Another contains an envelope to store mementos.
The main thing is, take your journal with you and try to write in it every day (or every few days). You might ask yourself, “How will I find time for that?” Often, the opportunity will present itself while you’re traveling on a plane or train. It only takes a few minutes to jot down or record the events of the day. When I traveled back to France in 2001 with my family, I kept a journal, and this approach worked well for me. Make sure to include the date, the names of places you visited, restaurants you dined at and people you met. By all means, chronicle unusual events.
Have I convinced you? I hope so. Below is the opening entry from the diary I took with me to France when I was twenty-one years old. It’s dated August 22, 1979.
“Since a person does not take a trip to Europe everyday, I have decided to keep track of the time I spend in this foreign land. I have written not only feelings, experiences, and hopes; but informational data that many someday be useful upon my return to the U.S.A. This journal shall surely be a reminder of the good times along with the bad.”