“It is virtually impossible to write a journal and not discover more about yourself” – Stephanie Dowrick

Journaling can be a tool for self-discovery, a place for self-reflection, an aid to concentration, a mirror for your thoughts, a place to generate and capture ideas, a safe place to vent your emotions, a place to record events, a training ground for the writer in you, a tool to connect your family more deeply and sometimes simply a good friend and confidant that listens without judgment!

Keeping a journal has endless benefits! When you write down your thoughts, ideas, notes, stories, experiences, etc. and use it as a tool for reflection and self-improvement, it clarifies your thoughts and memories, it hones your writing skills, and improves your mental health. When you write you are using your left brain, which is analytical and rational. While your left brain is engaged, your right brain is free to create, intuit and feel. It is clear that writing removes mental blocks and allows you to use all of your brainpower to better understand yourself, others and the world around you. It’s a good thing, I promise!

Below is a great list of benefits that are outlined in an article entitled The Health Benefits of Journaling by PsychCentral at https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-health-benefits-of-journaling/:

Clarify your thoughts and feelings.
Do you ever seem all jumbled up inside, unsure of what you want or feel? Taking a few minutes to jot down your thoughts and emotions (no editing!) will quickly get you in touch with your internal world.

Know yourself better.
By writing routinely you will get to know what makes you feel happy and confident. You will also become clear about situations and people who are toxic for you — important information for your emotional well-being.

Reduce stress.
Writing about anger, sadness and other painful emotions helps to release the intensity of these feelings. By doing so you will feel calmer and better able to stay in the present.

Solve problems more effectively.
Typically we problem solve from a left-brained, analytical perspective. But sometimes the answer can only be found by engaging right-brained creativity and intuition. Writing unlocks these other capabilities, and affords the opportunity for unexpected solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems.

Resolve disagreements with others.
Writing about misunderstandings rather than stewing over them will help you to understand another’s point of view. And you just may come up with a sensible resolution to the conflict.

Aside from keeping a personal journal, there are huge benefits to keeping a journal while you travel as well. A travel journal will be a treasure trove of memories when you look back on adventures you’ve had, especially the adventures you’ve had with your family!

When you keep a journal while you are on a transformative family adventure (like a Heritage Journey) it allows you to reflect on your daily experiences and make time to be present, heal, and connect with your child/children. It is a great way to begin building deeper, richer connections.

Remember that your travel journal is a personal memento, not a school assignment. Don’t make it into a chore, use it as a tool to connect and reflect but don’t force it — you don’t need to write in it every single day! Think of it as something fun to do as a family, not something you have to do. Maybe take it to a restaurant and use it as table conversation. Or write in it snuggled up in bed with a cup of hot cocoa! 

If you are going to keep a journal while you travel, which I highly recommend, especially on your Heritage Journey, try to establish a routine of writing regularly before you take off on your trip. Just take a few minutes each night to jot down travel ideas, record recommendations from friends, gather restaurant ideas, put in some important phrases in the local language, or just gush about how excited you are to hit the road. Once you get in the flow of keeping a journal, it’ll feel more natural to keep it going on your trip.

The best advice I ever got about keeping a travel journal is to write about at least one incredible highlight each day. On a Heritage Journey you might have several highlights each day, and that’s ok too! But you want to concentrate on the important memories; the interesting person that you met, a sight that sparked a big conversation, a favorite food (or better yet, a food everyone tried and hated!), a hilarious mishap, or a time when you felt super connected – maybe after an amazing adventure activity!

Draw little pictures and doodles of some of those memorable things. When you look back on yours or your child’s handiwork, those little pictures will be the things you laugh at as a family – which builds huge connections!

When you are traveling as a family, you can keep your own journals or share a family journal. One thing for sure, you’ll end up with a well-rounded account of your trip, and it’s always interesting to see what each person finds as the most memorable moments. Sharing a journal also helps take the load off one person!

It’s not always easy to establish a writing routine when your days are filled with activities. So don’t always wait until the end of the day when everyone is tired and cranky. Instead of picking a time, take your journal with you. That way you can jot down notes and memories wherever you are and whenever you have time. Bus rides, transfers, meals, waiting in lines are all great times to write!

When you go to buy a travel journal, make sure you either get your family in on the purchase or pick one that you know will resonate with everyone! Make it fun. Buy some colored pencils too – those always liven up a journal! Also, make sure your journal has pockets in it for small souvenirs and business cards of your favorite restaurants or hotels. I love to collect pieces of paper, tickets stubs, receipts, interesting tidbits of information and tape them into my journal later at night or when I return. I also often use it as a photo journal and add pictures when we return. Reflecting on a journal is one of the most fun ways to recount your trip with your family after you return. Make it fun!

There’s something incredibly romantic about using a pen and paper to record your thoughts. However, if it just doesn’t work for you, keep an online journal, write emails to friends and family or start a blog about your travels – it’s that important! Having a record of your trip, especially your Heritage Journey, will go really far in creating deep, rich connections within your family. Creating those connections is always the goal of trips I take, how about you?

I have had several clients send me emails daily or near daily. They talk about what they’ve been experiencing, they ask me questions, they talk about the emotions each family member is going through. I am honored and blessed when clients write to me during their travels. It allows me to be a part of their experiences, offer advice/support and feel what they are going through in real time. And guess what else? It’s an amazing record of your adventure and it doubles as your journal!  

The most important thing to keep in mind when you are recording the events of your family adventure and/or Heritage Journey is the knowledge that this tool will allow you to reflect on your experiences like nothing else ever will. You will have the notes that reflect the ups, downs and emotions that were experienced while you traveled. You will be able to relive your successes, laugh at the mishaps, heal, connect and remember – in your own words and those of your family. Memories fade, make sure your travel journal doesn’t!

When you are ready to explore the world with your family, please schedule a 30-minute Discovery Session with me at www.calendly.com/bambi. I’d LOVE to help you plan the adventure of a lifetime for your family! 

All my best,

Bambi Wineland is the mother of two internationally adopted children, a traveler, a Certified Professional Coach, and the Founder and CEO of Motherland Travel. Motherland Travel began by designing Heritage Journeys for families with internationally adopted children. The emphasis of those Heritage Journeys has always been on deepening family connections, building self-esteem and cultivating pride in a family’s multi-cultural heritage. Motherland Travel also uses the philosophies of transformative Travel for designing family trips with purpose – building rich connections, with each other and the world! Read more about her here >> http://motherlandtravel.com/

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