We encourage anyone who travels with us to keep a travel journal. First of all it helps you recreate your trip in your mind’s eye so that your memories are refreshed and more vivid. It allows you to keep a chronicle of events, places, time schedules, sights, things to do, things not to do so that if you ever take the trip again (or recommend it to a friend) you have a ready reference. I always keep a few detailed notes about accommodations including room numbers and try to take time to look at other rooms if available. That way I if I decide to stay in the same hotel, country house or appartamento, I’ll be able to request the room I want (if I was in Ferrara that would be the Hotel Annunziata on the Piazza Repubblica with a room that faces Castello Estense). I also keep notes on where I ate with pictures. Food eaten in the place of origin is very evocative and a picture is worth a thousand bites. A journal can be used to record expenses and help you stay on budget. I recommend journals with indexes or pockets to keep receipts.
So think about journaling the journey. Your notes can be as spontaneous or as detailed as you want. They can be organized in the classic Ciak or Moleskine notebook (used by Hemingway), a sleek travel journal you picked up at Amazon.com or in an inexpensive composition notebook. It really doesn’t matter. What matters is that you do it because the words, drawings, photos, ticket stubs and bits and pieces of your trip will create memories that only get better as time passes. And if you’re worried about inspiration, don’t be. The act of traveling in and of itself has an uncanny ability to make you see yourself and the world in a different way and in the end you’ll be amazed at what you’ll find.