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A travel journal helps you remember the best parts of a trip. It’s a keepsake allowing you to reflect upon your musings and recall the thoughts, feelings, and ideas pulsating through your mind during your adventures.
Travel journals are a must-have for any seasoned traveler who wants a personalized memento from their trip.
What is a Travel Diary?
A travel journal, or travel diary, is any book you keep where you record your thoughts while traveling. Travel journals help with every aspect of a trip, from planning to tracking itineraries, learning about yourself, and remembering your trip’s best details.
What Do You Write in a Travel Journal?
Travel journals are personal. There’s no right or wrong about what to write in them. Some people write pages-long essays about every aspect of their trip, while others jot down small details they want to remember later.
Write about the places you explored, the people you met along the way, your experiences with different modes of transportation, and the fantastic foods you discovered. Capture your thoughts from the exact moment you gazed upon a 5000-year-old architectural marvel and record the biggest culture shocks you experienced.
The options are endless.
10 Great Tips for Travel Journaling
Ready to start your travel journal? Here are some tips to get you started!
You can start journaling before you set foot out of the door. Write down what you hope to gain from the experience.
What do you want to do, see, and discover while on your adventure? Why did you choose this specific destination?
Pre-trip journaling helps you plan your trip and ensures you will make the biggest bang for your buck.
It Doesn’t Have to Be Words
Not everyone is good with words, and that’s okay. Your travel journal doesn’t have to be words. If you’re a visual person, consider getting a blank-page journal rather than a lined journal and dedicate your travel journal to sketches.
Use an art journal as a travel journal and draw your journey. Sketch the famous structures, gorgeous landscapes, and native plants you encounter on your way. Your imagination and creativity can fill in the rest.
Note the Little Things
We typically remember the significant details of a trip. When visiting Rome, you remember touring the Collesium and the Vatican.
But what was the name of that little diner you popped into that had the best coffee you’ve ever tasted?
Note the little details in your travel journal as you go. Record the name of the painting that made you gasp, the street name with the cute little Instagramable houses, and the native name for that delectable dish you fell in love with.
Give Yourself Time
When we’re on a trip, we often want to go go go to see everything there is to see. However, be sure to schedule breaks.
These mindfulness breaks are the perfect opportunity to open your journal and record what you’re feeling at the time. Set aside time at the end of each day to recap your experiences.
Describe Your Feelings
Angkor Watt at sunrise is an awe-inspiring site. As the dark cloud of night lifts and the brilliant colors of morning appear on the horizon, the temple lights up in brilliant bursts of gold, yellow, and orange. The spectacle is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Don’t you want to remember exactly how you felt when the first light rays hit the temple? Or the sense of accomplishment bursting through your veins when you completed the hike up to the temple of the moon and laid eyes upon Machu Pichu through the fog?
These intense feelings are fleeting, but if you record them in your travel journal, you’ll remember them for the rest of your life.
Use Your Senses
Humanity was blessed with five distinct senses, so use them to describe your travels. Capture each destination’s distinct flavor in your travel journal.
Describe the pleasant aroma of incense that wafts through the air and the tingle of spice that dances upon your tongue. Listen to the sounds of the ocean waves crashing upon the shore and the songs of the seabirds as they go about their day.
Record the sensations in your travel journal so the scene comes to life when you look back at it years later.
Consider Your Scrapbook
Some people use their travel journals as placeholders for the scrapbook they’ll make later. Save your tickets and ephemera, but record why you’re saving each piece.
When you take pictures that you’ll develop later, jot down a quick note about each photo so you’ll remember where you were when you took it and why it spoke to you. These notes will be invaluable when you complete your scrapbook later.
Expectations vs. Reality
We all go on trips with certain expectations. Sometimes a destination shatters those expectations and is better than our wildest dreams; other times, reality doesn’t live up to the hype.
Use your travel journal to record your thoughts about whether a travel experience met your expectations. How did it compare to what you thought it would be?
What Did You Learn?
Travel is one of the world’s greatest teachers. We learn so much about ourselves and the world around us when we open ourselves up to new experiences.
Travel helps us gain perspective about different cultures and ideas, allows us to appreciate great works of art, and highlights the best of human ingenuity throughout history.
Use your journal to record what you’ve learned on your trip. You may have discovered a new dish you want to prepare at home or learned something different about a famed artist. Perhaps you took a solo trip and learned self-reliance.
Your journal is the perfect place to record these lessons.
Plan Your Next Trip
The best time to start planning your next trip is while you’re still on a trip! During this trip, you likely discovered things you liked and didn’t. It may have opened your eyes to other locales you’ve never considered yet now long to explore.
Use the opportunity to consider your next adventure. Map out the new places you want to discover and plan to make it a reality.
The 15 Best Travel Journals You Should Consider
Ready to start your travel journal? Here are 15 great options you should consider!
Small Pocket Journal
If you just want to jot down notes and details, consider grabbing a pocket journal rather than a traditional travel journal.
Pocket journals are small (pocket-sized!), so they won’t take up too much room in your suitcase. They’re the perfect option for those who travel light.
People who think in list form will love the Travel Listography. It includes nearly 75 lists related to different travel experiences. Consider the top countries you want to visit, the natural phenomena you want to experience, and the spiritual adventures you wish to seek.
You will find all these and more in the Travel Listography.
Promptly Journals Travel Journal
The most significant limitation of Promptly Journals is that each journal only covers one trip. It’s great if you want one journal per destination, but those who wish to record all their adventures in one spot may not enjoy it.
Rocketbook Reusable Journal
Rocketbook allows you to record your thoughts and feelings like in a traditional journal, but your writings head to the cloud for storage, and you can reuse the pages.
Although it’s not specifically designed for travel, Rocketbook is a fantastic option for those who want a more sustainable journaling method.
Maps and More World Travel Journal
Mark and Graham’s Maps and More World Travel Journal is far more expensive than a traditional travel journal but offers far more.
The World Travel Journal includes maps of major cities and other helpful information, such as international dialing codes and even climate tips. It’s a perfect companion for the intrepid traveler.
The sleek leather cover comes in bright orange and can be personalized with a foil-debossed monogram for an extra cost.
Clever Fox Travel Planner
Inside you’ll find a world map, expense page, pages for notes, pages for your trip in review, and tons of other resources to help you plan and enjoy the perfect trip. The planner also includes loads of stickers to make planning even more fun and a free user guide.
Traditional Leatherbound Travel Journal
Sometimes we want the classic feel of a leatherbound journal to instill a sense of nostalgia on our journeys. A traditional leatherbound journal is just the ticket.
Barnes and Noble offers a wide range of leatherbound journals, including lined and blank-page journals.
Moleskine City Notebooks
Moleskine is the biggest name in journaling, so it’s no surprise they offer special travel journals. Those seeking a quality blank journal with a tough exterior will enjoy their traditional offerings, but Moleskine also provides a wide array of city notebooks.
These journals are specific to a particular city. They contain maps, public transport information, critical areas of interest, and other vital details about the city. The only limitation is that there are far too many cities in the world for Moleskine to make a notebook for all of them, but they do have one for many of the world’s major cities.
Personalized Travel Journal
Travelers looking for a journal as unique as they are should head to Etsy to explore the bountiful options of personalized travel journals available.
Etsy Artisans are happy to monogram journals, swap out maps, add extra pockets for ephemera, and work with their clients to create the best journal for them. Choose your style and work with the creator to see how they can personalize your travel journal.
The Traveler’s Playbook
The Traveler’s Playbook helps you overcome writer’s block on your adventures. It offers prompts and illustrations to get your memory going and your hand writing!
The journal includes a page for many countries, so it’s a quick resource to record key details from your adventures. It also contains fun planning tools, like a page to express your bucket list ideas and a fill-in world map that helps you highlight where you’ve already been.
C.R. Gibson’s Adventure Awaits travel journal is a travel planner and journal all in one. The journal offers space for travel planning, including a packing checklist and a guided travel planner, in addition to many pages to help you record your adventures.
The journal pages offer prompts to record your favorite memories, best moments, and more. The guided journal makes recording your thoughts a breeze.
US States Journal
If you’re obsessed with checking all 50 states off your bucket list, grab the 50 States Traveled Journal. This journal has two pages dedicated to each state, offering prompts and questions to help you recall key details of your trip.
It also includes blank space for personal notes, so you can record anything you deem important that the prompts didn’t cover.
European Travel Journal
There are tons of options for European travel journals. Some include planning packets, while others simply pop a map of Europe on the cover and call it a European travel journal.
None we’ve found offer detailed pages for each country, similar to the US States Journal, but the Waypoint Wanders Europe Travel Journal is the next best thing. Although most pages are blank, it includes a scratch-off map of Europe and a page of scratch-off city stickers to help you visualize where you’ve been.
Lonely Planet Travel Journal
Lonely Planet offers a variety of travel journals for those with different needs.
Their traditional travel journal doesn’t offer any prompts or extras. Still, it includes both lined and blank pages, allowing travelers the flexibility to sketch, draw, jot down notes, or tape in pictures.
Lonely Planet also has a guided journal featuring prompts, questions, activities, and even extra pockets to store receipts, tickets, and other ephemera.
Any journal will do if you’re not into all the bells and whistles. If you don’t want prompts, quotes, or inspiration, head to your local bookstore and grab the journal that speaks to you.
Travel Journals Enhance Your Experience
Travel journals should be fun. They enhance your trip, allowing you to record your thoughts, feelings, and ideas while you’re in the midst of discovery and reliving your adventures for years to come.
Consider investing in a travel journal for your next trip. You’ll be glad you did.
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.