A Beginner’s Guide to Travel Journaling
“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” ~
With summer right around the corner, many of us are dreaming of new views, road trips, and all things related to vacays and sunny days.🌞 In fact, according to a recent study, 87 percent of people have a “strong desire to travel internationally right now.” Sounds about right!
Chances are we’re used to documenting our adventures on IG and Tik Tok, but when’s the last time you wrote about your travels in a good old fashioned journal? If you’re curious, we put together a simple guide for travel journaling, including travel-inspired prompts and our favorite on-the-go journals. Whether you're enjoying a staycation or going somewhere for the first time, we’ve got you covered on how to embrace travel journals in 2021 and beyond. Adventure awaits!
The benefits of travel journaling
Have you ever gone on a trip only to realize it feels like one big blur in your mind? Me too. Even with images on a feed and camera roll, it can be hard to remember how the trip really felt - not just looked. Journals are perfect places to store details of what you were going through, how you got from place to place, and little moments that can’t be captured in a photo.
In addition to helping us capture valuable memories, here are some other benefits of travel journaling.
- Like books, journals are reliable! They don't need chargers, plugs, or anything besides you -- and a pen/pencil.
- Journals provide a place of comfort and peace, which is important during all phases of life. And it can be especially important when you’re traveling and likely feeling all sorts of emotions that come from being in a place that’s different from home.
- Writing things down can help you organize your thoughts and get to know yourself better as the wonderful and unique individual that you are! :)
- Plus, dozens of studies show that expressive writing is beneficial for physical and mental health.
How to start travel journaling: do’s and don’tsThere are no "rules" when it comes to journaling, but here are some suggestions - from one writing lover to another!
- Do add dates! I find dates help anchor memories to a moment.
- Don’t make yourself write every day. Some may disagree with me on this, but I find if I force myself to journal - it turns it into a chore rather than a “treat.” Not feeling it one day? That’s ok. Pick up a pen tomorrow and try again.
- Do make it your own! If you love to draw, scrapbook, or write poetry, your journal is a perfect home for your unique insights and observations, along with brochures, mementos, and souvenirs.
- Don’t be critical of how you write. Travel journals are there to serve you and your creativity. So, don’t edit yourself - let yourself write freely.
- Do get a journal you love. When you love the way your journal feels in your hand and the way it looks in your bag - it will likely make you more excited to fill it up.
- Don't only write if you have hours of free time. Got five minutes? That's all you need to jot down a few thoughts or observations.
- Do keep it handy. I like to put a journal on the top of my bag or keep it easily accessible on a nightstand. That way, I see it and don't have to rummage through my belongings to write a few sentences down.
Where to journal when you travel
The best place to write is the place you actually write! I used to try and force myself to journal in places that I thought were "good writing spots" - like trendy cafes. If that spot works for you, that's awesome. But for me, I usually end up people-watching and often get self-conscious that the person behind me is looking at what I'm writing even though I'm sure they have better things to do!
I feel most inspired to journal when I'm going from one place to the next. Trains, planes, airports, buses, and subways are my journaling hubs. It's especially a lovely way for me to acknowledge and reflect on one part of the journey as I transition to the next.
The other place I like to journal when I travel: my bed. Yep, not so glamorous but beds are home to many of my long hours spent scribbling words on a page.
Some other places to consider: hotel lobbies (even if you aren't staying at the hotel, it's likely fine to get cozy on a chair for a bit and write away), parks, public benches, casual restaurants, and patio or balcony spaces.
Travel journal prompts
These prompts are here for inspiration. No need to use all or any of them, but if you’re feeling stuck or intimidated by a blank page - these are here for you to keep in your back pocket.
- Today I started my day with….. Write about your morning. What did you drink, see, eat, feel? How did this morning compare to last night?
- Right now, I am looking at ____, smelling _____, listening to ____ and feeling ____. Describe your surroundings - even the smallest things that seem unremarkable may be the things you cherish the most later.
- Write about someone you interacted with on your travels. Did you have a conversation with a waiter, taxi driver, or fellow traveler? Was there someone you admired from afar at some point?
- What are five (or more!) things you’ve discovered about yourself? One of the best parts of traveling is the opportunity to get to know ourselves a bit better.
- Make a list of “bests” and “worsts.” Jot down the best and worst meals, restaurants, views, transportation, hotels, hostels, the list goes on and on! These lists can be extremely helpful if you ever return to the place you’re visiting or if someone asks you for recommendations.
- How are you feeling right now? Answer truthfully. Remember, all feelings are valid.
- Write down what you feel grateful to have experienced on your trip. Then, write a list of things you’re grateful to experience once you're back at home.
- Write a letter to your future self. What do you want to remember about this experience? Is there anything you’re hoping to hold onto even when you’re back to your regular routine?
The best travel journals: our team's favorite picks
Picking a journal is such a personal experience, but I look for three things in a travel journal. First: something lightweight and relatively small (but not flimsy!), so I can easily pack it in my carry-on. I also look for a durable material that can easily be wiped down because who doesn’t spill coffee, crumbs, and water at some point along the way?! And last but not least, a pretty cover that makes me smile when I see it.
These five do all of the above - and so much more. (Oh, and don't forget your pressed-flower bookmark to mark your space in your journal!)
I love this Yoobi Journal set because the pencil pouch is perfect for stashing little mementos from trips like tickets, stickers, and postcards. And you can store your pencil in the pouch so you don’t have to empty your entire backpack for a writing tool (been there... many times).
For a guided journal, the Let’s Get Away Travel Journal is packed with prompts, blank spaces for photos, and so many more fun features.
This beautiful journal from Denik comes with a laminated cover that makes it water-resistant and travel-friendly. You can also design a custom journal with your own art and designs if you have something specific in mind.
Baronfig offers two journals: Confidant (hardcover) and Vanguard (soft cover). Both are high-quality, durable, and with every purchase they plant a tree.