written March, 2009
Dave Fox’s book Globejotting: How to Write Extraordinary Travel Journals is an enjoyable and worthy read. Dave’s forte is his extensive knowledge of keeping a journal while traveling. Part of the excitement and appeal for traveling is that it is an adventure–you don’t know what your destination will be like, who you’ll meet, what the local customs are, or how you’ll find your way. He discusses emotions that people commonly feel when traveling–fear, excitement, frustration, exhilaration–and how to bring them into your journal writing. Fox also discusses the issues many–both traveling and non-traveling–journal writers have in common: for example how to write in depth, rather than just what-I-did-today reporting; and how to overcome self-censorship.
A recurring theme in the book is how to handle the conflict between experiencing the traveling vs. writing about it. This is a continuous dilemma for every person who travels and who also wants to record the trip in some form. The travel experiences are vivid at the moment and, you think, unforgettable. The reality is, however, that almost every traveling day brings new adventure, and soon those unforgettable memories blur together and, indeed, some are lost.
Count on Fox to have figured out how to deal with this inherent conflict. This is where the book really shines. Fox has been traveling since he was seven years old and has been writing for just about as long. He has worked for Rick Steves, the well-known travel guide, and from these years of experience he has developed many great solutions to this dilemma. One of his “journaling outside the box” suggestions that I love is called “A Postcard a Day”: Every day buy a picture postcard of a place that you have visited that day, and write your quick journal entry on the postcard and then mail it home. Then, not only will have a recap of your trip when you arrive home, but you’ll have something to look forward to when you dig through the stack of bills and junk mail that awaits you. You can later use the postcards as jumping off point to write in greater depth, if you wish.
Dave’s young-at-heart, male perspective is apparent throughout. His writing style is breezy, personal, and entertaining. Yet, in addition to his humor and lightness, there is depth in his thinking. He considers the outer journey as well as the inner journey. He liberally peppers the book with samples of his travel journal entries, which offers you not only pleasurable reading material, but concrete “how to” examples.
Fox also includes a couple of chapters about journal writing when you are not actually traveling, but that circles around the traveling theme. He focuses on journal writing techniques to use before and after the trip, in what he labels “pre-journal, post-journal, re-journaling.” As a seasoned traveler, I agree that planning, reading, and thinking about the trip in advance is part of the fun. And writing about your trip after you return home gives you a chance to re-enter the vacation mindset writing while sitting at your kitchen table.
In fact, Dave’s passion for travel writing is so infectious, that reading the Globejottingdredged up a memory of a crazy travel story that occurred more than 30 years ago when my husband I took a trip to the Everglades. I should be doing my tax preparation work, but instead, I wrote this, which was certainly a lot more fun. Thanks, Dave, for the inspiration.