8 Reasons Why You Should Keep An Adventure Journal

You'll be glad you did 10 years later.

By: Hana LaRock

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Whether you’re going out for a weekend hike or spending six months traveling around the world with just your backpack, you should keep a journal. While it’s obvious that you should be in the moment as much as possible, writing an entry whenever you get the chance will help preserve those precious memories later on, when they may start to fade. There’s no time like the present. Begin your journal before it’s too late!

1. You’ll never forget how you felt.

Writing is a means of expressing ourselves in a way that we can’t do even with the closest people in our lives. It’s like having a conversation with yourself that you get to record (and without looking like a crazy person). Whatever you write while all those feelings are still fresh will spark clearer memories later on. Yes, you’ll always remember this moment, but you might not remember that funny thing that made you laugh, that interesting smell, or that random, but very kind person you met on the trail.

2. It’s a chance to be alone with your thoughts.

If you’re backpacking with a group of others or even if you’re by yourself, it’s likely there’s a lot of thoughts swimming around your head or constant stimuli that you can’t easily escape. Taking the time to sit down and write an entry is the perfect way to get some genuine alone time.

Camp by the Spiral Jetty | Prajit Ravindran

3. It’s a stress reliever.

Though backpacking is a wonderful experience, it can be stressful at times. No matter how much you try to have an open mind or remain relaxed when you run into a ‘bump in the road’, it’s inevitable that you’re going to have those moments where you just want to be back in the comforts of your own home. A journal is like your therapist, that you don’t have to feel awkward talking to. As the words spill out of your pen, you’ll start to notice that they begin to spill out of your heart and mind, too, leaving your mind free of negative thoughts.

4. It’s your journal; no one else’s.

Perhaps you go backpacking with someone and you loved a place that they absolutely hated, or vice versa. Write about it. Keeping a journal is a way to state your opinion without offending someone or hurting someone else’s feelings. It’s a way to be yourself, completely free of judgement. Traveling and backpacking in particular, open a lot of empty rooms in our minds and sometimes it’s not an issue of trusting someone with our feelings, but rather an issue of not being able to put our thoughts into spoken words. A journal helps with that.

Hike Iceland’s Tallest Waterfall, Glymur | Photo: Eric Bennett

5. There are no rules.

Suck at grammar? No worries. There’s no rules for keeping a journal. You can just draw pictures, doodle, or write your favorite quotes. Use different colors, or keep it black and white. Use a pen name, or use your own name. Write “Dear Journal”, or just write. Whatever you do, just do it!

6. It’ll cheer you up.

Whether you’re having a bad day during your travels or the backpacking blues months after your trip ends, sitting down with your journal will bring it all back. It’ll be the motivation you need to get back out there again, and remind you of the little joys in life.

Hike the South Lykken Trail to Picnic Area | Photo: Nick Tort

7. It’s an authentic story.

If you choose to keep your journal private or if you’re hoping to publish it and make it a bestseller, it’s still an authentic story. Even if someone traveled the exact same path as you, they experienced it in a totally different way. It’s your story. What you decide to do with it is your choice, but you better own it from the get go.

8. It’s not hard.

Writing might not be for everybody. We get that. Some people can write for hours on end, while others really need to be in the mood. However, if you can get yourself to write SOMETHING every day during your trip, you’re going to be very happy you did. Like a moment, it’s one of those things you can’t get back once it’s gone. Take advantage of that five minutes you have in the morning, or the thirty minutes before going to bed after you’ve set up camp.

If you think you want to start a hiking journal but you’re not quite sure how, read this guide on How to Keep a Hiking Journal featured on Love The Backcountry.

Cover photo: Prajit Ravindran

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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.