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Writing a Travel Journal by Bullet Point

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In this post we describe why journaling by bullet point may be a suitable way to record your travel experiences.


When we began preparing for our round the world trip, Jon and I kept detailed records on spreadsheets, including itineraries, finances, and accommodation details. After we’d thought about what long term travel might look like for us, prepared for our trip and packed, we were ready for takeoff.

But what about the emotions, feelings, sights, sounds and everything in between?

The one thing we were missing was a consistent way to record our notes during our travels. I like writing notes by hand — it’s something I’ve done through my education, business meetings and the like — and there’s something soothing about a ballpoint pen’s ink glide over a glossy piece of paper. Jon prefers recording notes on his iPhone notes app, having them organized in a structured, minimalist fashion.

In any case, we were not consistent in our note taking. Like most things, if you make a proclamation, “I’m finally going to lose those last 20 pounds!” or “I’m going to write the next American novel!” you’ve just created an immediate pressure upon yourself to achieve this lofty goal. Anything that falls short of the end statement feels like a failure.

I’m certain that if we had started our trip by saying we planned to write a memoir as an outcome of a trip, we would have not written much. That is a lot of pressure to put on yourself, especially when our express purpose of the trip was to be in one another’s company and explore new places as a couple.

This is where bullet point journaling came into play.

We took a different approach for the trip — journal by bullet point instead of full paragraph.

We wrote for five minutes at the end of every day and attempted to describe the following:

  • Where we went
  • What we did
  • What we ate
  • How we felt
  • Who we met
  • Funny stories
  • Notable quotes

Over time writing became habit.

We kept our notes in rough draft/scratch format.

We did not use our travel time to edit our work.

We kept a master copy of your digital journal in Google Documents and saved it offline for immediate access.

Even though I kept a physical notebook and Jon used his notes app on his phone — we brought our writings together on a Google Document.

We saved that Google Document offline for access anytime.

By the end of the trip, these notes became a living record that filled in the blanks where our itinerary and photos left off.

Over a year-and-a-half trip, Jon and I wrote over 700 pages of bullet point notes. We’re grateful to have this supplement to our itineraries, photo albums and pamphlets we gathered along the way.

Today I refer to these notes to create the posts you see on the pages of Engaged Abroad.

Who knows, perhaps I might just write that memoir after all. With the notes in hand, anything is possible.


How do you keep track of your experiences?

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