Tips for Keeping a Travel Journal
By Maggie S. Hogan
Travel and foreign languages go hand in hand. One of my favorite activities is keeping a travel journal, where you can keep memories of the places, people, sites and cultures you experienced. Your journal might include photographs, mementos, diary entries, maps and more.
Along with travel journals, there are lots of other types of journals that can reflect a variety of journeys ... some as close as your own backyard!
Garden Journal — This is a great place to record your garden's progress and the experi- ences you have had while planting and tending it. Starting with a seed and then ink leaves in various stages of growth. Identify the type of seed, leaf or flower and date it.
Travel Garden Journal — Bring back a memento leaf or two from your trips. If not the actual leaf or flower, take a digital picture to print later. Remember to put the date and where it was collected on the journal page
Tree Journal — Identify the trees on your property or on nature walks and "collect trees" by inking a leaf from each one. This could also be set up as a field guide to trees.
Change of Season Notebook — Use the inking technique to commemorate the changes of season. Perhaps spend a week every season adding to this journal. Ink a variety of natural objects, attempt to identify them, and do as much or as little journaling as you would like.
Using sketches, inking or photography, collect specimens, identify them and make notes in your field guide. Here are some ideas.
Tree Field Guide
On the left-hand page include a drawing, inking or photo of a tree or individual leaf. If the color in the picture is not clear, write notes about the tree or leaf's colors in the margin.
On the right hand page, include the following field notes:
- Approx height of tree
- Whether it has leaves, flowers or fruit
- Description or notes about this leaf/tree
Use reference materials at home to expand the field notes. Older students might want to include:
- Native region
- Broadleaf or palm
- Deciduous or evergreen
TIP: To create bark impressions, hold a piece of paper flat to the surface of the trunk and rub lightly with a wax crayon. Don't forget to label it with the date/tree name/location before leaving. At home, this rubbing can be glued into the journal.
Seashell/Rock Field Guide
For those who like their nature objects small enough to collect, seashells (or rocks/minerals) make a great field guide!
Each page should include a sketch or photo as well as:
- Description of the shell including its colors, shape, size and features.
At home, you can use shell or rock identification books to identify the specimen. This info should then be added to the journal.
Choose papers in a variety of styles and sizes, along with sturdy envelopes for holding sample specimens. Envelopes are intriguing for several reasons. First, it is always inter- esting to be able to "peek inside" envelopes. Second, an interesting and amusing variety of items can be placed in them, increasing creative options. Last, envelopes let you collect specimens that aren't easily drawn or stamped included in the nature diary.
Ideas for items to store in envelope journals include:
- Dirt samples from places visited
- Sand samples from beaches/lakes
- Grass/weed samples
- Flowers (works better if they are dried first)
- Seed pods
- Bugs (dead!)
- Twigs/bark from trees being identified
- Small rocks or shells
- Ticket stubs/post cards
- Snippets of information
- Little drawings
- Pictures cut from magazines
- Poems about the pictures
Remember, fun starts at home. When you think about travel (and learning foreign lan- guages) don't forget that right in your own backyard, you'll find exciting places to visit and people from other cultures to meet!
How to Bind an Envelope Journal
Take the journal to a copy shop and have it spiral bound. If using the spiral bind method, do it before beginning the journal. Follow the simple directions below for a screw-post style envelope journal. A screw-post binding is best used after the journal is complete because it does not open flat for ease of writing/drawing.
Directions for creating a screw-post style journal:
1. Finish the journal and collect all the pages, envelopes, and anything else that will be bound with it.
2. Design the cover. Give it a fun title! Include the author's name and year. Use sturdy cardboard (thicker than a cereal box!) covered in fabric scraps or colorful duct tape.
3. Collate the pages and envelopes into their permanent order.
4. Use a hole punch or a drill to create holes from the front cover, through all the pages to the back cover.
5. Use screw posts to finish it off.