I annoy my travel buddies. They lose track of me as I step into alcoves, cross the street or duck around a corner to take a picture or twist to film a panorama. Then there’s the indignity of waiting. Often I pause, sit and write, digging through a bag for my pen, any pen as I usually carry several or none at all – and then lean on a support or stoop to write in my traveler’s notebook. My travel companions just have to adjust!
The Luxury of writing by hand
When you spend so much time working online taking the time to capture a phrase, a thought, a description with pen and paper is a luxury. Writing slows me down, the pause between words allows my mind to fly and I have to admit that often my fingers struggle to keep up so most of the words are barely legible. But writing helps the brain to configure things freshly. I don’t ruminate when typing, fingers fly and the ruminating comes later – if it comes at all.
This post was spurred by the gift of a travelers notebook cover from Galen Leather but all opinions are my own.
Writing can be sensual when it’s in a beloved and beautiful traveler’s notebook. I have a new red one from Galen Leather and love reaching into my bag, feeling the smooth surface and then when pulling it out, loving the color too. Their selection of sizes helped me find my perfect fit.
Don’t take my word about how writing by hand is beneficial. “According to plenty of different studies, there are brain-friendly benefits of writing out letters, notes, essays, or journal entries by hand that you can’t get from typing. Writing by hand really connects you with the words and allows your brain to focus on them, understand them, and learn from them.”
Benefits of writing in a travelers notebook
- You remember and understand more. “One study found that students who took notes by hand had a greater understanding of a lesson than those who took notes on a computer.”
- Writing engages more of your brain. I used to bring my laptop to meetings and events where my fingers would fly during discussions. I’ve become fast enough to capture most conversations. Don’t ask what me what was said though! There’s a ‘reading circuit’ that’s triggered when you write and it involves more of your brain than typing does.
- Do you have a hard time falling asleep or wake up with your head buzzing with thoughts? Writing helps to calm the brain. Graphologist and handwriting expert Dr. Marc Seifer claims that “Jotting down a sentence like, ‘I will be more peaceful’ at least 20 times per day can actually have an impact, especially on those with attention deficit disorder.”
- Writing helps to keep your mind sharp – whatever your age. Toddlers have been shown to develop stronger memories by duplicating shapes (like letters.) “Brain-flexing” tasks like writing help keep our minds honed.
- Writing makes us more creative! Since we’re using more of our brains we have more to work with when we write. I remember crafting my signature and then trying out different handwriting styles when I was in high school. A writing style can also be one’s brand. Think of famous signatures like Picasso’s.
Meet the Galen Leather traveler’s notebook in this short video
Writing is therapeutic
- Perhaps you were an angst-driven teen as I was? I kept a diary and it continued the habit into my twenties. Writing helped me figure out how I felt and ease loneliness, confusion, and pain. Now, I admit that writing remains a release and it’s helpful in processing problems.
- Writing as yoga?! There are claims that writing in cursive is a rhythmic exercise and calming.
- Writing by hand helps with focus. I get distracted easily and keep multiple tabs open when I’m writing on my laptop. The world – a bar of music, light shift, a bird’s flight – may distract when I’m writing but thought-flow continues.
- Writing in my traveler’s notebook helps me be more creative. Writing in cursive especially taps both sides of the brain. How much so varies by person but the stimulation of either the analytical or artistic side of the brain opens up possibilities that tapping a keyboard won’t.
- Also, brain and memory functions improve when writing in cursive. One teacher and language specialist sees improvements in her dyslexic students as well. I wonder if writing things out helps keep our brains younger too.
All of this has me considering that it’s time to polish my cursive skills and keep writing wherever I go. How about you?
Here’s where you can find out more about the beautiful traveler’s notebooks and other fine Turkish Leather goods that Galen Leather creates.
There are so many cool ideas here, I think often the simplest and most practical gifts get the most, something like a leather notebook for traveling around the world is a great gift, if the person travels a lot, obviously you need to write down constantly. Great ideas here!
Thanks, Alex. I’m glad to meet another writer.
I love writing by hand. Sometimes when I’m having a bit of writer’s block, I’ll try writing my posts by hand and it almost always does the trick. Its such a therapeutic act for me. It’s a shame I’m always in a hurry or I would always do it that way.
What gorgeous notebooks! I absolutely agree about writing by hand. I start all of my pieces that way, before moving to the computer. I know that a different part of my mind is at work when I’m handwriting. I always keep a field notebook with me, but nothing as lovely as those hand-stitched Galen bindings. There is also this amazing satisfaction that comes from beautifully made things — and these certainly are.
Your collection of notebooks looks like mine!! I love to write by hand. It’s a stretch to read my own writing sometimes, but the notes help when I go to write my articles.
I am a BIG time believer in writing in notebooks and have many, many of them from years of life and travel. I love them and agree with you on all the reasons why. My one wish in life is that I could draw as well, I think that would make the notebooks even more special!
I love writing in journals and don’t do it nearly as often as I’d like. I’ve read the research before about how writing things down improves memory, so I’ll have to try it again! I did a writing retreat in Costa Rica in 2015 where I used solely journals for the creative process, and though I crossed out a lot of things, it felt so freeing!
I am a notebook fanatic, I love everything about them. I strive to live my life with authenticity, and I feel like there is something authentic about handwriting your experiences at the moment. I also love to schedule my blog with them, its so satisfying to hand scratch off things you have completed
I love the idea of keeping a travel journal! Nowadays we keep everything digital, but I think the physical action of writing reinforce your memory and help you reflect on your experience. Those notebooks from Galen Leather are beautiful!
I have lately been taking a travel journal on most of my trips nowadays. It gives me a quick way to jot things down, streets, opening/closing hours, names of people and places that I will likely not remember by the time I get home. I agree it is DEFINITELY THERAPEUTIC.
Literally earlier today I was walking on the beach, and paused to tap some notes in my phone (‘travel impressions’, both for my own poetry and for my blog). I felt bad because it looked like, to my traveling companions, that I was just checking my phone and not enjoying the scenery. So this post comes at a really good time for me! Using a notebook would avoid that. And like you say, there is a certain calming energy to writing things out by hand. (Plus, no damaging blue light from screens!).
I love this eloquent article. My hubby always writes in a notebook as we travel and for many of the reasons that you list. And we also have a collection of copybooks, spiral notebooks as in your one photo! I’ll think a bit differently now when I watch him write. Thanks for the insights.
Do kids these days still learn cursive? I love writing and I absolutely agree that writing by hand activates different pathways. Those pathways are so painful in my brain. Perhaps, that’s reason enough to do it. I know that I should do squats and crunches too, intellectually. I love the guilt-free writing with spelling and grammar checkers and no fear of penmanship. Kudos to you for your notebook. It’s a skill and desire I wish I had.
What’s old is new again! I tried taking notes on my iPhone for awhile, but am back jotting down my travel notes in a notebook. For me, it is much easier to work with although I sometimes scribble to the extent that I can’t read it myself and need to translate.
I totally 100% agree with this. Writing is definitely calming. I totally see how it can free you at night! I’m also one that can type extremely fast and can capture anything thrown at me verbally but then have no idea what I typed. At one time, I loved to journal but I don’t anymore because I’m usually taken up by notes I need on trips. But the biggest reason is because (and this is going to sound so weird) I grip the pen really intensely and my hand tires out so fast. Lately though, I have thought about getting into it because I love looking back on my handwritten thoughts. Maybe after reading all the benefits you have listed, I will dive back in!
I know this gripping sensation and it isn’t fun. I seem to have gotten over it and hope you will find you have as well once you ‘dive back in.’
We’re kindred spirits. I always carry two journals with me when I travel and keep a small notebook in my purse. One of my journal is for jotting down notes, the other for writing about my day at the end of the evening, or when I have a little free time and can catch up on it all while I’m on a bus or train. I love reading back through them and am always so happy when I discover that I captured some little details that I’d forgotten about.
Love, love, love keeping journals! My friends often gift me with them as well, and they always get used.
The Galen leather journals definitely look nice, Elaine. But I admit to trying to have each trip journal look differently by theme or mood. Like you, I have boxes of them!
Can’t beat writing notes when travelling and that note book looks just the ticket! too many times I struggle to remember things I should have written down – a sight, smell or great quote! I need one of these! #theweeklypostcard
I used to love writing by hand before the birth of electronics., so I know where you are coming from. I still do it once in a while, but I find it so much more convenient to jot notes down on my phone now. It seems faster.