Why the Smartphone Camera Is Perfect for Travel Journal Writing

Last night I wrote three journal entries about my trip to Harlem, New York, and thanks to the iPhone camera, details of the trip were easier to remember.

My friend and I stayed in a beautiful Harlem apartment that my daughter found for me through the booking accommodations website, Airbnb.com. The trip only lasted three days, which gave me no time to journal write, because we were constantly on the go.

But I was able to use the iPhone camera to shoot and record the places we visited. And then as I was riding back home on the plane, and the next day after the trip, I used a few of the pictures to write about my short visit.

If I had stayed longer, I might have kept a paper notebook, or recorded notes in a digital iPhone notebook, but I actually found the phone camera easier to use because it’s always with me everywhere I go.

Photos and Day One

One of the useful features in Day One is that when you import an image into a new journal entry, the app uses the date stamp of the photo, to date the journal entry.

Day one photos

You can selected to change the photo date to the current date, but for journaling purposes, it’s convenient to use the photo date. Day One can also use embedded GPS location of the photo as well, which also comes in handy for journal writing.

Writing vs. Photos

Some people might ask, why journal write when you have photos? Don’t photos replace the need for writing? I say no. For example, while I took pictures at the  Schaumburg Museum, those photos say nothing about my impressions of the museum, nor what I saw beyond the contents of the individual photos. The photos do help provide details and context for journal writing, but they don’t provide what I was thinking or feeling at the time.

I’ve heard a few digital journal keepers say they don’t include photos in their journal. They keep their journals exclusively for writing. I think they’re honoring the literary tradition of journal writing. I also try not to add too many photos to my journal, because I don’t want to treat the journal like a photo gallery or album.

However, I do find that adding photos helps illustrate what I’m writing about, and years later, it’s like reminiscing while viewing an album of photos.

Don’t Forget Your Camera

Keeping a journal while traveling can be sort of a challenge, especially if you’re constantly on the go during the trip, and you’re too tired at the end of the day to do journal writing.

So take out your smart phone, and snap photos. They don’t have to be perfect images. They simply need to reflect what you’re seeing as you travel. Snap photos of street signs, street names, restaurant names and menus, local newspaper headlines, museum artifacts, receipts, and the like. Your photos will help jar your memory and provide rich detail for writing.

Sylvia's-restaurant

Let my readers and I know how you journal write while traveling. What tools do you use, and challenges if any do you face?

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Bakari Chavanu

is the creator of NaJoWriMo, and is the author of the interactive iBook, Starting From Day One: Using the Day One Journaling App to Record and Enrich Your Life