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Friday, September 21, 2007

Travelling: journals

Are you a journal writer? Do you keep a journal when you travel or does your blog suffice? When I was younger, before I became a professional travel writer, I used to keep journals whenever I travelled. I'd write most days, usually with a drink in hand, from my hotel balcony, an al fresco café or the window table of an atmospheric bar somewhere. Like this one at El Hipopotamo in San Telmo, Buenos Aires. I'd document my journeys and reflect upon my experiences and the people I had met. And I'd muse about the nature of travel more generally. I'd paste in labels, tickets, postcards, and other paraphernalia. Don't we all? But now, I find it impossible. I make random notes for a book my partner and I are planning to write about our experience on the road as we travel the globe, living out of our suitcases for 21 months. But mostly I'm too busy keeping the practical notebooks on cities and countries that are the basis of our research for the guidebooks and stories we write. They're crammed with business cards, notes from hotel inspections, reviews of restaurants, cafés, bars, clubs, sights, museums, galleries and so on, along with scrawled bus times, internet café details, driving directions, opening hours and prices, occasional jottings from interviews, and descriptions of landscapes and citiescapes and the people who inhabit them. I'd like to be able to return to the days of leisurely journal writing. In the meantime I'll admire other people's imaginative efforts, such as those of the 1000 Journals which are currently travelling the globe; the delightful treatsandtreasures.com, a blog by a journal keeper (thank you, Prêt à Voyager); and the exquisite journals of Dan Eldon, a travel enthusiast and photojournalist who died a tragic death in Somalia at 22. His beautiful but short life is documented on a website and in a book 'The Journey is the Destination' by his mother and sister. Do let me know if there are any other great travel journal blogs or books out there.

5 comments:

Maryam in Marrakesh said...

I so so wish that I kept journals. I don't think that my blog suffices but it I just can't find the time. I know I will regret it later:-(

ASD said...

Dan's journals are truly exquisite. The irony is that we get to see them primarily because of his tragic death (when his mom and sister made them public/had them published). At least he is able to continue to inspire...

franki durbin said...

Lara, you'd have loved this one: http://www.travelingguys.com/ but it seems the guys have packed it in and gone on with their (single continent) lives. It is worth reading their archives and tales of adventure as they toured some 30 countries on five continents. Beautiful site design, too!

laradunston said...

Maryam - I totally agree with you - if I ever travel purely for pleasure again one day, I'm going to start one myself.

asd - I'm with you there.

Franki - thanks for the tip! I'm going to check it out now.

Anonymous said...

Dan Eldon is one of my heroes... his work was part of the inspiration behind The 1000 Journals Project. (well, that and bathroom wall writing). 1000 Journals continues at www.1001journals.com, where you can launch your own traveling, location, or personal journal... - someguy