Posted in adventure, Travel, Travel Writing

Let Travel Be Your Teacher

Study abroad experiences stretch college students’ horizons; mission trips help church teens see a world different from their own. We expect young people to learn from travel, but do we anticipate the same from ourselves when we travel?

We often say, “Yes,” but fail to do what it takes to make it happen. We may be a tourist, pilgrim, or adventurer. It doesn’t matter. Anyone can let travel be their teacher by setting an intention before leaving, paying attention to that intention, and seizing surprises along the way. When we capture our experiences in a journal, we can reflect on the insights gained. That’s where the learning takes place.

The only things that interest me are people and ideas. I love going on trips that shock me, where everything I believe in my religion, my politics, my social outlook is immediately challenged with diametrically different viewpoints. (Arthur Frommer)

Objection

A frequent objection is one misses travel experiences, while journaling. Early morning or late evening can offer quiet time to write. Or you can convert hours of transportation to useful writing. Using simple methods that don’t take much time is another answer.

Themes for your travel

A purposeful method of journaling is to choose a theme for the trip. You might select to focus on architecture, then create questions that go beyond the obvious.

  • What are traditional and contemporary construction methods and materials used? Why these?
  • What topographic, geological, or historical factors affected building structure design?
  • How are/were homes different from ours and for what reasons?
Journal when you have down-time.

These inquiries set in motion intentional travel that culminates in paying attention more closely while roaming the world. We experience the trip more deeply, and as a result, discover richer insights.

Choose from simple journaling techniques

  1. Categorize differences between the culture you’re visiting and your own
  2. Write about the most influential part of your day; recall one significant conversation, historical fact, or memorable event – not everything
  3. Create a “3D” table: Date, Destination, Discovery (what you learned in twenty-five words or less)
  4. Identify the 3E’s of daily travel: Event, Emotion, and what to Explore next
  5. Each day draft a short poem about something particular or a haiku (a 17-syllable poem)
  6. Ask others travelers to record memorable moments from their day in your journal
  7. List new foreign vocabulary words and their meaning
  8. Describe trees and plants, birds or animals new to you  

Artistic Journaling

Try artistic approaches. Collect items like tickets, coffee sleeves, or maps to paste into your journal—like a collage. Sketch a scene, a historical building, or unique road sign. Ask children you meet along the way draw or color in your journal. Create a mind map of the day’s activities.

Journaling Supplies

People, who journal, choose supplies to fit their personality and the circumstances of their trip. Do you prefer a ballpoint or gel pen, colored markers or pencils? Do you like a sketchpad, a spiral bound notebook with lines and a pretty cover, or a classic leather-bound journal? Will you be at the beach or in a rain forest? Waterproof paper and pencils are available; otherwise, a Ziploc bag will protect your supplies.

Mindful, intentional journal writing allows travel to serve as guide, mentor, and teacher.

Posted in Travel, Travel Writing, Women traveling

Travel Back in Time

On vacation last month we traveled to visit friends in Wisconsin we had not seen in many years. As we followed the Wisconsin highway and turned onto a two-lane county road, then to the unpaved road into the forested overhang of our friend’s retreat home on Lake Michigan, we knew we were almost there. As it is with old friends, we fell into old habits of eating, drinking, story telling, reminiscing, filling our glasses again and catching up on the years in between. 

A TRIP DOWN ANOTHER MEMORY LANE

But I must interrupt our current good time to walk the dog, Murphy, who travelled with us. So he and I trekked back up the long driveway to our friend’s house and I was transported to the Scottish Highlands, particularly the Isle of Skye.

I had visited the isle decades ago, where eight other tourists and I missed the last ferry of the day for the mainland. We ended up spending a night at the inconvenience of locals who found lodging for each of us, couples, singles (like myself traveling alone), and singles traveling together.

We spent a riotous dinner together laughing about how we had become so entranced by the island that we simply forgot to catch the ferry. At least I was not alone. 

The road Murphy and I walked that day took me back in time to why I missed the ferry. In wandering the lush undergrowth that was so mysterious then, I decided–just knew in my bones–that elves had to exist on that island.

Did they call them pixies, sprites, fairies, leprechauns (no, that would be Irish)? 

I could not see them, but I just knew (without really knowing) they could see me. They were watching my every move. And here again in this forest near the shores of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin I could feel their presence then and there again. 

I WONDERED 

Were they observing me from the turn of the underside of a fern? 

How small were they and how many were there? 

 

Did they sit and twitter with each other about how funny we look and sound? 

Could they leap from leaf to leaf to get a better view of us? 

 

And did they listen from the creases of a tree?

Could they hide in the center of a flower, seeing us without being seen?

TRAVELING BACK IN TIME

I will never know the answers, but I will remember that unexpected overnight stay on the Isle of Skye. And then how my time in Wisconsin took me back, just as our drive had taken us back in time to visit old friends. What joys!

A TRAVELER’S QUESTION

When you travel what kind of alertness do take with you to explore even the mundane? 

 

 

 

Posted in journal writing, Memoir writing, Travel Writing

Journal Writing about your Travel Day

At the end of a travel day, journal about the events, people, and places you encountered.

In “Launch Your Travels” blog, ­­­­­­­­­the independent traveler Jen made several suggestions that a woman traveling alone can do in the evenings. It is rich with ideas for not only her niche audience, but for other travelers as well.

I had one thing to add to her suggestions, I’d like to share it with you here. If you do nothing else but this at the end of each day, you will have succeeded as being a thoughtful, purposeful, intentional traveler.

Journal about your travels. During dinner alone jot some notes while waiting for your meal to arrive. Make more full bodied reports of your travels that day after returning to your lodging. Here are some ideas to consider writing about.

  • Record a conversation you had with a child, stranger or tour guide.
  • Describe a place, person you met, or an experience you had, using all your senses.
  • Write your reactions (emotions, thoughts, challenged beliefs) to what you encountered during this day.
  • Reflect on a theme you set for your journey (i.e., as big as history or architecture, as small as slang or t-shirt sayings).
  • Report your progress on an intention you set for yourself before traveling (such as do something each day you’ve never done before or practice your second language with locals).
Posted in journal writing, Travel, Travel Writing, Writing Workshops

Vacation Travel Journal Writing Workshop

Wrede Country School in Gillespie County, open 1896-1960

On April 27, 2019, the Wrede little one-room country schoolhouse, just outside of Fredericksburg, Texas, hosted ten students for inspiration and tutoring in the art of travel journal writing.  The organizers promoted the workshop as Vacation Journal Writing, which attracted people from their early teens to their mid-seventies. Continue reading “Vacation Travel Journal Writing Workshop”