Do you write a travel journal?
I know, it’s the 21st century and we all take a billion photos a day and share everything online. That’s like a modern form of journaling travel, right? Well…no. Today I’d like to make a case to bring back the lost art of travel journaling.
This post was created in collaboration with Snappy Snaps.
For me, writing a travel journal is one of my favourite times of the day while I’m travelling.
In my opinion, not enough people write travel journals! Travel journaling is honestly the most therapeutic and creative way to store and reflect on your travel memories. A journal brings back memories in a way a photo never could, and the act of writing helps solidify memories so you’re less likely to forget them.
I’ll usually write my journal before going out for dinner, at that gorgeous time of day when the sun is setting and everything is peaceful and calm. I love to reflect on the day, write about everything I’ve done and jot down notes about things I want to remember. I’ll have a cold beer or a glass of wine and spend half an hour quietly jotting down my thoughts from the day.
Even on the days where I don’t have a lot to say, I’ll just bullet point some thoughts and stick in a few tickets or notes or whatever I’ve collected that day.
I love writing my travel journal but I love reading it back even more.
I’ve got journals from my first backpacking trip in 2009. I’ll admit that many of the pages make me cringe, but it’s a joy to read and it brings memories flooding back in a way that photos never could. It’s interesting to see what felt important at the time and there’s always so much I’d forgotten about until I see the words on the page written in my own familiar scrawl. I’ve written pages and pages about people I no longer remember and destinations that are just a vague blur in my mind.
Table of Contents
Here are some tips to help you create travel journals you’ll treasure for a lifetime
#1. Why should you create a travel journal?
- To preserve your memories
- As a fun, creative outlet
- To ensure you have a moment of calm during a busy trip
- As a form of self-care to help organise your thoughts and talk about your feelings
- To give yourself a wonderful thing to read back in years to come
- To help with writing travel blogs and Instagram captions
- To help remember key facts that could help people plan their future trips
#2. What should you put in your travel journal?
The lovely thing about journaling travel is that there is no right or wrong answer here. You can write about whatever you want. You don’t need to be a good writer or be artistic or creative. You just need a notepad and a pen and some thoughts in your head.
I like to play around with different formats in my travel journals such as:
- Brain dump – Just sit and write anything that comes into your head. Don’t overthink it, just write.
- What I did today – A traditional journal style, chronologically following everything you did that day
- All photos – Some days I don’t want to write so I just stick a load of photos in
- Bullet points – No time to write sentences? Just get your thoughts down quickly with bullet points
- Scrapbook style – Stick tickets or other notes into your journal that will remind you of your day
#3. What do you need for your travel journal?
You could keep it simple with nothing more than a notepad and a pen, or you could go all out!
Take a look at craft supply stores like Hobby Craft, Etsy or even bargain shops like Poundland for crafting supplies. You can get things like travel themed washi tape, cute accessories to stick in, stamps, stencils, frames and fancy pens.
Notepad – Personally, I like a notepad where I can tear pages out if I need to. I like knowing that if I make a mistake I can just rip the page out.
A nice pen – Stationary geeks will understand the joy of finding the right pen!
Two coloured pens – I try to stick with a particular colour scheme so I’ll rarely use more than two colours
Photos – More on photos below
Scissors – Remember that you can’t take scissors in your hand luggage!
Pritt Stick – Vital for sticking in tickets and notes
Travel wallet – I also travel with some kind of travel document wallet. I’ll use this to store any of the tickets or notes I want to add into the journal as I often do this once I get home.
#4. Printing photos for your travel journal
I wait until I’m home to print out my photos and stick them into my journal. When I’m writing I’ll leave pages blank to allow space for photos.
For me, photos in a travel journal are SO important. This is mostly because they encourage me to look back and read old journals as it’s more enticing when the pages are broken up with pictures.
For my latest travel journal I used the online photo printing service with Snappy Snaps. I was so impressed with this service. I ordered them at about 2.30pm on Tuesday and they arrived with my postman by midday on Wednesday. I couldn’t believe they came so quickly!
The quality is brilliant and I love the matte effect in my journal.
Travel Hack Tip: When selecting the photos you’d like to print, always choose the best quality ones you have. Avoid filters or heavily edited photos and, if you can, use photos taken on a camera rather than a phone. You often don’t notice the difference in quality when it’s on the screen of your photo but you really do notice the difference once they’re printed. Filters look great on your phone but they don’t look great in print.
#5. Digital travel journals vs paper travel journals
I’m sure you’re aware that there are countless travel journal apps available. Personally, I prefer a good old fashioned paper journal. I find the words flow easily when written with a pen and it’s a more rewarding and creative process. I’m also more likely to read it back in years to come when it’s a paper journal.
If you’re the kind of person who prefers to keep things digital then I’d highly recommend using an iPad along with an Apple Pencil and the app Day One Journal. It’s a lovely, intuitive app and you can add photos into each journal entry. It also gives you daily journal prompts if you’re struggling for ideas!
#6. Travel journal prompts
If you’re struggling for ideas for what to write in your journal then here are some travel journal prompts to get you started:
- What was the highlight of your day?
- Who was the most interesting person you spoke to today?
- Write about an interesting conversation you had.
- Describe the best meal you had today.
- What was the worst thing you did today?
- What surprised you today?
- Did you learn anything new today?
- Did anything scare you today?
- Describe your accommodation.
- What are you missing from home?
- What happened today that you never want to forget.
How travel journaling led to my career as a travel blogger
I’m just going to interrupt these travel journal tips to share how my travel journal led to my career as a travel blogger!
I’ve always been a journaller. Yes, even back in the days when writing a journal wasn’t ‘cool’ and it wasn’t part of every millennial’s self-care routine. I wrote journals about my best friends and my latest crush, my days at school and my hopes and dreams for the future. Yes, it was just as embarrassing as it sounds! It was my way of processing all the confusing thoughts that jumbled around my brain and journaling helped me feel calm and relaxed after a hectic day.
It felt natural to begin a travel journal when I left to go backpacking for two years in 2009.
I wrote a daily journal and eventually typed these handwritten notes up and posted them on the internet in the form of a blog.
I did this for years without anyone really noticing what I was going…until one day people did notice. And quite quickly, lots of people noticed! And, to cut a very long story short, I’m now lucky enough to do this full time! If I hadn’t written that journal all those years ago then I never would have ended up doing this and I just feel so pleased with myself for taking the time to write those journals!
#7. Travel journals + self care
Let’s not forget that writing a journal, even if it isn’t a travel journal, is an invaluable form of self care. Whenever I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed or like I have too many thoughts in my head, I always find journaling will help.
Travelling can often be stressful and we often travel when we need to escape things at home. While you’re writing your journal, don’t confine yourself to just writing facts and figures and descriptions from your trip, write about everything. Write about how you’re feeling, what you’re thinking and how the overall trip is affecting you. Observing your feelings and how the world around you is making you feel. No one else needs to read your journal so don’t worry about getting personal because this is only for you.
#8. Should you use an Instant camera for your travel journal?
Polaroids look gorgeous in scrapbook-style travel journals and it is nice to instantly print your photos and add them to your journal as you write. Aesthetically I think they look amazing but realistically I’ve always found it cumbersome.
Polaroid cameras are bulky and annoying to carry. You’ll probably be taking the majority of your photos on your main camera or phone so it’s a big thing to lug around for just a couple of snaps each day. Not only that but the reels are expensive and you’ll have to make sure you’ve got enough for your whole trip.
#9. What if I’m not artistic, creative or good at drawing? How can I make my travel journal look amazing?
That’s OK, I’m not either!
If you’re no good at drawing but would like something extra in your journal then use brochures, maps and tickets to create gorgeous pages.
#10. Travel journal inspiration
I’ve left this tip until the end because it can be a double edged sword. Looking at other people’s travel journals for inspiration can give you so many ideas and inspire you to create your own, but it can be overwhelming and put a lot of pressure on you to create ‘the perfect journal’.
The best places to find inspiration are:
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