Merel’s Wonderlust book

Not only is keeping a journal while you’re on vacation the prefect way to hold on to those precious memories, it’s also a great way to note down all the insights you pick up along your travels and organize everything that’s going on in your mind. Merel Stegeman is a big believer in keeping a journal while traveling, so much so that she’s even (self-)published a book about it. Here, Merel describes how the idea to publish such a book came to her.

It was late December 2014. We were in Argentina, sitting in the bus heading to the Perito Moreno Glacier, an incredible mass of ice where you can watch as it sheds huge sheets of ice into the water. On our way there, we saw the most beautiful nature, as well as several rainbows. As we approached the glacier, we heard the first rumble in the distance. What on earth could that be, we wondered? And then we saw it: this incredible chunk of ice slide off the side of the glacier and drop into the water below. What a sight! It exceeded all our expectations.

My dream
My husband Rob and I were away, escaping the hectic activity of everyday life. We were enjoying the relaxation, the loafing around, the nature and the no-pressure-and-everything’s-possible mood of the trip. The idea of publishing my own book resurfaced. It’s a dream I’ve had—and not acted on—for years. In 2008, for example, during my travels through South America, I collected lots of quotes and tips from all the people that I met. And once again, the thought of making a book inspired me, injected me with a great deal of energy, and so I started to draw straight away. But with this energy, there was also a sense of trepidation: “Me, publish a book? I can’t do that! I haven’t any experience or education in the matter.” It was only in October 2015, almost a year after that enlightening trip in Argentina, that I left my job and seriously started following my dream.

I researched what steps I needed to take. I met a lot of new people, all of whom were able to help me take a step further toward reaching my goal. That’s how a daunting task such as self-publishing a book became an adventure in itself. One year later, in November 2016, Wonderlust, a travel journal with a difference, was ready.

Loafing around
When you’re relaxing—be it at home or on a trip—you create the space to (re)discover those parts of yourself that you no longer notice while going about your everyday life, but that are important to you. For example: for me, writing, drawing and hand-lettering are wonderful activities that are always overlooked at home. But if I’m very honest, I’m always happy when drawing, creating and developing something. So, now, instead of watching a series on Netflix when I’m wanting to relax at home in the evenings, I’m choosing to do something that energizes me. It’s as simple as that: discover what makes you happy, and do it.

  • Merel Stegeman has written, illustrated and self-published her book, Wonderlust: Explore. Create. Shine. The journal is available via