When we spoke to author Hazel Manuel as part of our series of Facebook Live travel chats during the covid-19 lockdown, we asked her to share her top tips for travel journalling.
Journalling your travels is a skill well worth developing. As Hazel pointed out: “Journalling can help you experience the moment more fully, as well as store memories for the future.”
Hazel’s journal from her first trip (of many) to India became her first novel, Kanyakumari, so she’s well placed to give advice on travel journalling.
Your journalling style, that is. If you’re a bullet list sort of person, go with it. If you like to write elaborate full sentences, do so. Perhaps you jot down fleeting impressions in one or two phrases. Or maybe you like to mix it up with all the above. Whatever it is, don’t try to force yourself to journal in a style that doesn’t feel natural. You’ll only interrupt your journalling flow.
Remember you’re primarily writing for yourself. No one else matters.
It’s useful to know where, when and who you were with when you journal, but it’s the little details of your encounters that will bring your journal alive. Journal the things you’re more likely to forget – the sounds, the smells, the things that a photograph or a quick online image search can’t tell you. For example, the way the sound of singing carried across the water, or the beautiful colours of a sari on a child.
Rather than focusing on capturing the facts or exclusively visual impressions, zoom in on the multi-sensory details that speak to you profoundly.
When you can, note down titbits of conversations you had with people you meet on your travels. Not for every conversation of course, but the ones that go deeper than names, where people are from and what they’ve eaten.
You’ll be grateful you took the time to record the more profound interactions from your travels.