In the summer of 2012 I traveled to China. It was a great experience, and I was super busy all the time. I never found time to write or keep a journal, but my roommate for the trip did. I’m fairly sad that I didn’t set aside the time to do the same thing.
What really impressed me about her journal was that it had writing prompts for her to respond to for each day she was gone. Her friends and family had gotten together and had come up with the writing prompts for her. They then wrote the prompts within a notebook and told her to not look ahead and to just fill in the page for the day’s writing prompt.
Besides being a totally awesome gift idea for friends or family that are traveling abroad, this is also a great tool for a writer. I have my memories (and a crap ton of pictures on my Facebook) of the trip, but I don’t have my emotional responses or thoughts documented from my time over there.
Sure, I can think “Oh yeah, Beijing was fun,” but I can’t say what I was thinking a year ago while I was standing in the city, or in my hotel room at night after climbing the Great Wall or seeing the Forbidden City. I remember it was hot, and kind of fun, but those thoughts are now lost forever.
This summer I’m going to Taiwan, so I’m planning on making a travel journal for myself. I still remember some of the questions written in her journal, such as “What was the weirdest thing you ate today?,” and things like “What is one thing that happened today that you’ll never forget?” And while I like those questions, I want to come up with some of my own. I’ll be gone for four weeks and five days so I have a lot of questions to write for myself before I go.
I plan on grabbing a cheap composition notebook (anyone who reads my blog posts regularly will remember that I recommend carrying one of those around at all time, anyway. I’m old school – I like writing in books when I get a notion that needs recording), and I’m going to give myself a few pages to write responses in. I think I will steal a few of her questions that I remember, but I’m also going to add a few of my own like, “What one thing do you wish someone was here to see with you right now that’s back home? What makes it so great?,” and “What’s one thing you felt today that a camera couldn’t capture?” I’m sure I’ll come up with better ones as I sit here and fill them in.
Hell, I’ll probably Google a few good journal prompts while traveling abroad as well. Actually, I think I’m off to do that now.