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Take Your Travel Journal to the Next Level with our Tips

by Jacki Andre August 09, 2020

Take Your Travel Journal to the Next Level with our Tips

I don't know about you, but I'm dreaming about vacations right now. 

It's been awhile since I've done any travelling. But when I do hit the road, I take care to record my memories of the trip in my travel journal.

Travel journals are da bomb. Sure, you can put photos and brief blurbs on social media. (I certainly do.) But using an actual personal journal rocks. I love the multimedia potential, in particular. My travel journals are kind of like a love child between a writing journal and a scrapbook. I glue in all kinds of stuff like receipts, business cards, tickets, napkins, postcards, and newspaper clippings.

Leyla over at Women on the Road lists a whack of other reasons why travel journals are amazing:
  • Accuracy: Years down the road, I’ll remember the big picture. But I might struggle to recall the setlists, the color of Dawn’s umbrella that she held while we danced in the rain, or the name of the security guard who hugged me after the Calgary show.
  • Creativity: Pasting in ephemera, creating doodles, planning layouts, and writing your narrative supercharges your creativity.
  • Longevity: A travel journal is a tangible memory that you can keep forever. You don’t have to worry about how changing technology will impact it either.
  • Mindfulness: Keeping any kind of writing journal or personal diary makes you pay attention to those details you want to record. If you collect ephemera (or things like leaves and flowers) for your journal, it makes you pay attention to your surroundings as well.
  • Activity: If you take your journal with you, you’ll have something creative and fun to do during down times, rainy days, long train trips, and in places that don’t have WiFi (gasp!).
Need tips and inspo to get started? Read on!

Start Before You Go

Seriously, kids, if you’re here, you’re a planner. Amirite? Whether you revel in the list-making aspects of bullet journals (I don’t) or are just a writer (I am), you write stuff down. I know it.

Packing Lists

If you make packing lists, the logical place for those is in your travel journal, especially if you use the same journal for multiple holidays. Why rewrite your packing list each time?

Itinerary 

Your travel journal is also where you can start planning your itinerary. When I’m traveling to someplace new, I look up interesting sites, shops and restaurants that I’d like to check out, public transportation information, and other stuff like that. That can all go right in a travel journal from the start.

In a piece at hgtv.com, Ariana Pierce says:

When you plan out your trips before you go, three things happen. You save yourself from lots of stress, you maximize your time and you get the reward of seeing and doing most of the things you truly desire. I believe with my whole heart that what's written is real. When you take the time to write out your dreams and goals, you begin to attract those things into your life.

In other words, the Law of Attraction can work in your travel journal too. Don’t think you have time to see a Cirque du Soleil AND hit the Neon Museum while you’re in Las Vegas? Write ‘em both down and see what the universe can do for you.

Pack Some Journaling Supplies

There are basically three ways to go here:

Minimalist

I often travel specifically for concerts. My trips are usually short and jam-packed. I want to cram in as many joyful experiences as I can, rather than spend time journaling. In cases like this, it’s best to take along a camera and something for notetaking (a small notebook, a notetaking app on your phone, or even a voice recording app). You can jot quick and dirty notes whenever you have a moment to spare. Those notes will jog your memory when you work on your travel journal at home. If you want, you can also take along an envelope for ephemera, but let's be honest here: I just cram mine into an outer pocket of my carry-on.

Moderate

Perhaps you intend to keep your regular journaling routine or perhaps you would like to take along something to do during downtimes. Geneva Vanderzeil over at A Pair & A Spare has a well-thought-out list of journaling supplies to pack.

  1. A journal that suits your needs and preferences. The most important thing here is size. It has to be portable. Everything else is a preference really: hard cover, soft cover, spiral bound, lined, dotted, blank, etc. I have tips on how to choose a notebook if you need help deciding or why not just splurge on a writing journal with a travel-themed cover, like their Mountains Journal
  2. A good, comfortable pen.
  3. Art/creativity supplies that you normally use (such as typography pens, watercolors, stickers, or washi tape).
  4. Paper clips and bulldog clips.
  5. Scissors.
  6. Small envelopes.
  7. I would also add in a glue stick and some sticky notes. Minnie Small suggests using sticky notes to jot down notes and draft your spreads right in your journal. I'm totally stealing this idea.

The Whole Freaking Craft Cart

No further explanation needed.

Become a Collector
Look for physical things like maps, tickets/ticket stubs, business cards, brochures, local newspapers and tourist magazines, bottle labels, unique candy wrappers, napkins, and tea tags. You can also pick and press flowers and leaves to add to your journal later on.

But there are other non-tangible things you can “collect” (note) too, like:
  • Names and details about people you meet;
  • Conversations you overhear, particularly about local stories, legends, and characters;
  • Recipes and your reactions to new foods;
  • New/foreign terms; and
  • Songs heard.
All these things -- tangible or not -- will add depth to your journal and help keep your memories vivid.

Use Journaling Prompts or Templates

Making a template for each day can help with writer’s block and with making the most of limited time. If you want to go this route, design a daily page (or spread) that includes space for things like:
  • The date
  • The weather
  • A list of the best things that happened
  • The restaurants you visited and/or the food you ate
  • The places you visited
  • How you felt emotionally
  • Anything else that you want to remember

Keep your Narrative Positive

When we’re traveling, we’re often overwhelmed and out of our comfort zones. In those situations, it can be easy to focus on the things that go wrong. But shifting your perspective to focus on joy and gratitude can make your day brighter. If you need help keeping on the sunny side, consider making a daily list of five good things that happened to you. You could also keep up with your gratitude journal while on vacation.

Do  you already keep a travel journal? If you do, and have tips to share, please comment below. I'd love to hear from you!

Author's own photo

Jacki Andre
Jacki Andre

Jacki Andre has been journaling for over 30 years and still has her jam-packed Judy Blume Diary to prove it. Somewhere along the way, she started writing for reals, and is now a published author and Huffington Post blogger. In her spare time, Jacki supports dog rescue, advocates for disability rights, and educates other drivers via hand gestures about the importance of using turn signals. She keeps in shape by chasing joy (and her ‘80s teen idols) in earnest.


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