Travel memories are the best memories! We are willing to bet that some of your favorite meals, best friends, and fondest memories were made on a trip somewhere. However, if you adventure enough, you will find that those travel experiences, so vibrant at first, begin to fade. You forget where it was that you had that amazing sticky toffee pudding, or which beer it was that you hated. These things are important, no one wants to drink gag-worthy beer twice!
You certainly don’t want to forget the faces and places that brought you so much joy. That’s where a travel journal comes in handy, Learning to journal can help you process, keep you from repeating mistakes, and help shape your future adventures into the kind of trip that others only dream of!
Travel journaling sounds a bit daunting, especially to people who already don’t have enough time in the day. However, it doesn’t have to be. There are so many options and techniques for creating your travel notebook. You can produce something amazing with very minimal effort. Strap in guys, let’s find out how to make the best travel journal out there!
A Simple Way to Start Travel Journaling
Documenting travel is kind of our thing here at AdventureBook.com, but we know not everyone has time to doodle and collect mementos to make an epic travel diary. That’s why we’ve made a travel journal for you! All you have to do is fill in the blanks. This keepsake is perfectly designed to store your travel memories in an organized, simple, and aesthetically pleasing way. If you just don’t have time for glue sticks and washi tape, purchase our Adventure Travel Journal and get to making memories!
Why You Should Be Travel Journaling
1. Brains aren’t perfect.
When you see the sunrise over the peaks of the Guatemalan volcanoes for the first time, you think, “this is one of those moments I will never forget.” Except, you do forget. The memory fades into an interconnected jumble of a few flashes of epicness, and a clear remembrance of the event is soon lost to the annals of time… until you see a picture or read your words from that day. Then, the memories come flooding back like a river.
Keeping a travel journal allows you to go back and re-experience life’s greatest moments. Just a quick note or two on what you saw and how you felt in the moments is invaluable to your future self. Pictures are great, but they don’t tell the whole story. They can’t describe that incredible mountain smell, the chill of the morning air on your skin, or the laughter of your companions. You need words for that.
Author note: One of the best pieces of advice I give new travelers is to document your journey from the beginning. Don’t be like me and wait years to start writing down your thoughts. I have forgotten more about travel than most people will ever get to experience, and that is one of my greatest regrets. Write down your memories, even if it is on a hotel napkin, just do it. If you are not a newbie, it’s not too late, start journaling on your next trip!
2. Travel expands your thinking.
Traveling the world will expose you to foods you have heard of, languages you didn’t even know existed, and sights and sounds that are literally mindblowing. You will meet the best and the worst of humanity. You will see things that are hard to believe and even harder to retell. Travel changes you.
Writing down your honest thoughts and feelings in these new situations is a great way to process. Travel isn’t always easy. It sometimes raises serious issues for you- issues of human rights, animal treatment, environmental issues, etc. You need a place to think these things through that is private and allows you to express your actual thoughts without restriction. You will look back on these later and realize how much you have changed and what travel has done for you. It’s hard to analyze how far you’ve come when you don’t remember where you started!
3. Things aren’t always what they seem.
It’s easy to look at the travel world on social media and assume that every influencer is happy-hearted, skirting the world in a fancy dress, and staying in elegant overwater bungalows. Any intrepid traveler can assure you that that is not the truth of daily life. It might be what we display on Instagram, but it isn’t reality.
You need a space to talk about the real things. You need somewhere to vent. Your travel journal gives you a safe place to talk real. Then you can share the filtered or unfiltered version if you choose.
4. Inquiring minds want to know.
People are always going to ask about your travels. They don’t want to know every detail, but they wanna know the high points. An organized travel journal can help you pull out the important details to retell your story. It can help you give advice to friends and family that are traveling after you, and makes you look like an expert!
5. Make budget-friendly mementos.
If you are taking a long trip or planning a life of travel, collecting souvenirs is inconvenient on so many levels. There isn’t room in your luggage. They get expensive. They rarely represent your actual experience in the place. They just aren’t ideal for remembering your travels.
A quick note on the back of the business card of your favorite Irish restaurant may do a much better job than any magnet or t-shirt. Keeping a travel journal allows you to collect keepsakes that trigger memories, real ones. Plus, it doesn’t have to cost more than a few dollars for a journal and a pen.
6. Journaling changes the way you see.
Once you have been writing for a while, you will notice that you are beginning to pay attention to things that you never did before. You don’t just stare up at the castle and think “oooh pretty” anymore. You notice the smell of the roses. You pay attention to the ticketing process and the number of other tourists. You look for the best spots to capture its beauty, and you take it all in. You begin to notice people more, thinking about how you will describe them later in your writings. You feel textures and see details you didn’t before, and it only enhances your travels.
Types of Travel Journals
1. Bullet Journal
Bullet journaling is a form of notetaking that combines planning, lists, and a bit of artistic flair. They can be as simple or as intricate as you desire (or have time for). The system is amazing for keeping your life organized, as you have an index page so you document and quickly find the information you are looking for later. For instance, looking for the best restaurants in Scotland, a quick look at the index will tell you it’s on page 56.
Bullet journals generally have dot grids so you can organize your content any way you like with boxes or columns. You can find journals, stickers, and box templates on Amazon or Etsy to make it look just how you like. If you need all your info to be in one place, then a bullet journal is probably your best bet! You can make journal pages for bucket list places, packing lists, ticket stub collages, traditional foods, etc. It’s an easy way to keep everything organized, and we love it!
Author Note: This method is what I personally use for travel. I don’t have much space in this backpacking life. With this method, I can keep my work schedule, travel guides, important lists, and afterthoughts all in one place. Plus, my travel tips are easy to get to later when I need the information.
2. Travel Diary
A travel diary works much like your daily journal. It generally consists of blank pages where a traveler jots down their experiences and feelings on the daily, or regularly at least. Some travelers choose to use travel journal prompts to help them organize their content. These are just questions that help your mind work. They are great for days when you have writer’s block, and they can help you get out of your comfort zone and write more elaborately.
More artistic folks can toss the stickers and washi tape and bust out the watercolors with this method. Since these are blank notebooks, many people choose to make their journal primarily a sketchbook, and then just add in a few quick notes about what they loved…or hated.
Travel diaries are very personal. They can include the people you met, your feelings about specific places and activities, and all the little special moments you experience on your adventures. We love a travel diary because of the nostalgia it brings. There is nothing like going back and remembering exactly how you felt when you first saw Niagara Falls or the Eiffel Tower. Memories get hazy, but your words from that day last forever! Travel diaries are especially important for solo travelers as the memories you have to rely on are your own.
3. Travel Guide
Travel guides are probably for more professional travelers. However, if you are the travel guru of your family or friend group, then they likely look to you to tell them where to go and what to see. If you have detailed notes on all the “best things to do” in such and such, then it will be much easier for you to recommend the things you loved about a place and give warnings of what to stay away from.
Travel guides can be organized any way you want, but they generally include journal entries on:
- The best things to do
- What to eat and where to eat it
- Budget hacks for specific venues and activities, travel passes, etc.
- Transportation options (pros and cons)
- The best accommodations for different price points
- Cultural information
- Travel tips
- Best photography spots
- Safety information
Just remember to include your personal experiences. Travel planning is part of the fun, but it’s important to go back and insert your thoughts and feelings about your new experiences. That’s the wonderful thing about travel, we all experience it differently! The things you thought you would love, you may not, and that one activity your bestie drug you into often turns out to be the best part of the whole getaway.
As smashbook is a wonderful way to document travel. We especially love it for a long trip! It is basically a mash-up of a journal and a scrapbook. A gluestick is the smashbooker’s best friend. These cute journal pages often include stickers, ticket stubs, business cards, postcards, napkins from a restaurant, and photos. Many of these travelers carry a polaroid camera, but it isn’t necessary. You can also just use a square template to draw off where your photo will go later, and then print it when you get home. These pages are visually appealing, creative, and a great reminder of exactly what you have been up to.
This is one of the easiest travel journal ideas, especially if you don’t consider yourself a writer. You just stick in all the little stuff you collect on your journey, jot a few notes to the sides, and you are good to go. If you are creating a travel journal for the first time, a smashbook is a great way to start!
5. Postcard Journal
An even more simple travel journal idea is to collect postcards along your route. Postcards tend to be very beautiful, cheap, and easy to find. This makes them the perfect keepsake, plus they are a souvenir that doesn’t require an extra carry-on to get home. You don’t even have to have a journal with you!
Collect a postcard from each place you visit. Sit down in the evening and write the day’s events on the back. Make sure to date them. When you get home, organize your postcards into a photo album or a scrapbook. It’s beautiful. It’s practical, and best of all, it’s easy!
6. Travel Journal Apps
If you can’t stand the idea of writing things by hand, that doesn’t mean you can’t have an amazing travel journal. There are several journaling apps out there for travel. We love the Journey app. It works great for travel because you can pull in maps, calendars, and photos into your daily entry.
It’s not just great for documenting travel though, the app is also a serious vibe! It is designed to focus your mind on gratefulness and self-improvement. It is professionally crafted by life coaches and therapists with incredible prompts to help you organize your thoughts and data. Journey allows journal entries to be added via email, so you get an easy writing platform. You have an unlimited number of entries, and it all backs up to Google Drive, so you won’t ever lose a memory. Your entries can easily be shared via social media, but otherwise, it has excellent safety features. There is both a free and paid version of the app, depending on what features you want.
Tips for Creating Your Perfect Travel Journal
1. Don’t be afraid to fail.
You might try a daily writing journal and fail miserably. It’s ok. With so many different travel journal ideas out there, it might take you a fail or two to figure out which one works for you. If you are an artist, start with a sketchbook and make some notes. Perhaps, you don’t have any artistic skill, start with a smashbook and add in some quick notes. If you hate writing, start with the journal app.
You may find that your observations and writing skills increase as you move along in your journaling experience. You may move from one type to another, and that’s great. What works for one trip may not work at all for the next trip. Just do what comes naturally, and go with the flow!
2. Be patient.
You will not be a world-class novelist overnight. You may never be, and that’s ok. That isn’t the point of a travel journal. The point is to document your travel in a way that makes you feel fulfilled and tells an accurate portrayal of your journey. That’s it. It doesn’t need to be fancy or elaborate.
As you continue to create, you will get better at it. You will get faster. You will get more elaborate, or less elaborate, depending on your mood. Be patient with yourself. Writing down anything is better than nothing at all.
3. Be authentic.
There is enough inauthenticity around travel out there. You don’t need it in your personal journal. If you don’t like something, say it! If you hated the food at such and such place that everyone else loved, say it. Your journal is just that…yours! You are allowed to think that Paris sucks. It’s okay to be bored sitting on a beach in the Maldives. You should write down your travel disappointments. Life isn’t a fairytale, and some travel days just don’t live up to the expectation. These memories are often learning moments, and they are worth remembering.
4. Include the details.
On a more practical note, make sure your journal entries include all the necessary details. Include the date, the place, and any pertinent details about the location. Sometimes just these little tidbits of information can help trigger a memory. For instance, don’t just say, “I loved the Turkish Ravioli at Hunkar Restaurant.” Instead, say something like “On Thursday, January 18th, we had the most amazing Turkish Ravioli from quaint Hunkar Cafe and Restaurant, in the Kardiga Park region of Instabul. The owner was so friendly, and he gave us free appetizers!”
It doesn’t have to be that formal of course. You can just list the details in a bullet list instead. You aren’t writing restaurant reviews, but describing the scene, date, and location adds more memory-triggering information that helps you recall what you loved about the moment.
5. Track your progress.
Travel can be a great time to make some changes in your life. When we get out of our normal environment and its stressors, we often find it easier to drop bad habits or pick up good ones. Your travel journal is the perfect place to track the things you want to change.
Make a journal entry about whatever it is that you want to get rid of or add to your life. Then, use that page to document every day you make it without a smoke, or each time you caved. Tracking your progress helps you have an accurate account of how you doing. It can be a really useful tool to help you get to that better version of yourself you are aiming for.
6. Set up a writing time.
The hardest part about travel journaling is remembering to do it. You forget for four days, and then you sit down to write, and you can’t remember what order the events happened in. You didn’t jot down the details, and now you can’t recall. It happens, and it happens fast. Then, you get discouraged and just quit altogether.
The best way to combat this is to have a set time that you journal each day. Maybe you do it first thing in the morning when you wake up, or maybe it becomes part of your bedtime routine. Travel can get your schedule pretty messed up, especially if you have a stacked itinerary, but build in some journaling time into your schedule!
7. Journal by hand.
Keeping a Google spreadsheet for travel is awesome. A journal app works ok too, but these can’t show your creative ability and relay your feelings like writing by hand. Even if you don’t like writing, consider keeping an actual, physical journal for your travels. You might be surprised how much you love it.
8. Keep your eye open.
As you travel, keep an eye out for special objects that you can include in your journal. Many tourist destinations have a stamp, and you can ask them to stamp your journal or a scrap piece of pocket paper. You can gather actual postage stamps, stickers from a souvenir store, etc.
9. Bring in others.
To bring visual interest and cultural reminders to your entries, you can include foreign phrases for your titles. Some travelers even put in a few pages to serve as a message board. They ask new friends to write a short message or their contact info in their journal as a keepsake. It’s a sweet way to remember the people you meet while traveling, and a way to spice up your journal. They may have a totally different perception of the day than you did, and that’s what travel is about!
10. Take notes during the day.
Some travelers choose to carry a pocket journal to quickly jot down notes. However, if you prefer a proper journal, you may not get to it until this evening ( or three days from now) so keep daily notes on your phone, or a pad, that you can transfer into your real journal later. They don’t need to be detailed, just a little something to jog your memory later. It makes life so much easier!
Grab a pen!
There’s no better time to start than now! If you have a trip planned this summer, order your journal today. Grab a cheap one from Walmart, or score one of the more artistic creations from Etsy or Amazon. Spend a little time thinking about what you want your journal to look like, and then get going! Remember, travel journals are all about remembering your previous travels and helping shape your future ones. It’s that simple. If you are still a little unsure, we highly encourage you to snag our travel journal. We’ve done all the heavy lifting and made it super easy on you. It’s professionally designed and a fun way to start your venture into travel journaling!
What do you think about travel journaling? Is it something you would like to incorporate into your next getaway? If you have any tips or favorite prompts, drop them in the comments!
For more information on the benefits of journaling, check out “Why You Should Journal: The Benefits of Journaling.”
Still not sure where to start, we have tons of information to help you get going! Start with “The Top 19 Journaling Ideas for Beginners.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Travel journaling has several perks! It’s an expressive and personal way to record your experiences. Journaling helps you recall your favorite memories and allows you to document your thoughts while they are fresh!
The best journal is the one you will use! If you’re artistic, a sketchbook is great. If you love souvenirs, snag a smash book. The Adventure Travel Journal from AdventureBook.com offers writing prompts and more!