Capturing Wonder: The Power of Journaling

I believe a journal is as fundamental a part of travel gear as shoes and deodorant. I often go back to reread my experiences and reflect on how that affected my life. On one particular day, I was searching for the journal that chronicled my first trip to Asia. I scanned my shelf filled with years of journals: some were worn leather-bound tomes, others were hard-backed water-stained beauties.  All have distinct personalities and are filled with observations, emotions, and stories that I have collected from around the world over the last twenty-five years.  Losing this one journal felt like I had lost some of my memories.

Months later, while packing for a trip, I found that long-lost journal stuffed in the obscure pocket of a travel bag.  I was overjoyed!

How journals connect to the journey

The words “journey” and “journal” are both based on the French root word, which means day.  A journey is how far one travels in a day.  Similarly, a journal literally is a record of the events of the day.

At Wonder Voyage, we consider the life of faith to be a journey, not a destination.  Over the years we have found that participants who keep a journal during their voyages have a more complete experience.  Journaling enables one to ponder more deeply the activities and experiences of the day.  In essence, a journal can be like a “memory road map;” a reminder of how far one has traveled.  Years later, one can look back at a journal entry and recognize God as a companion on the journey.

How to start journaling

Here is some practical advice from chronicle experts on how to keep a powerful journal on your upcoming travel experiences.

  • Read some classic journals for inspiration such as The Travels of Marco Polo, The Lewis and Clark Journals, A Walk Across America or South: The Endurance Expedition
  • Decide how you will organize your journal. We suggest you keep entries by destination.  Try to keep your format consistent, but don’t be afraid of an occasional departure from the norm.
  • Add clippings such as ticket stubs, pictures, or other souvenirs from your voyage.
  • Sketch or doodle.  I am not a good artist at all but if there is something significant such as a majestic vista, an ancient structure, or a strange animal try to capture it in pencil, pen, or even crayon.  Looking back on those pictures brings a strong recollection of the moment.
  • Draw or add maps to help keep you grounded in the ‘where’ of your travels.
  • Collect stories that happen to you, historical tales, funny local sayings, indigenous poetry, or local legends- these will be great to share in the future.
  • Write from the heart. Be brutally honest in the moment.  Don’t worry about others reading your journal.  Capture the raw moments.
  • Go back and read your old journals and be truly inspired by your past adventures.

Getting ready for a summer trip? Check out our Call to Action about journaling. We are actively seeking stories of wonder, and keeping a journal is a great way to chronicle that experience. When you’re ready, we would love to help you share your story with others.


After a decade working in parish youth ministry Shawn started Wonder Voyage Missions. Over the last 15 years, WVM has led thousands of pilgrims to over forty countries. Shawn is a storyteller and an award winning filmmaker. He is an author who brings the gift of engaging narrative to our journeys. Shawn is dedicated to creating voyages that give people abundant opportunities to encounter God.

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