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Travel Journal Ideas: how to make journaling fun and easy

My mother insisted we keep a journal on our childhood trips. I love looking through those travel logs, seeing my little girl handwriting and reading the entries. But even with Mom’s urging, my entries all grow shorter as the trip progressed. Fifty some years and many trips later, I’ve returned to keeping journals, but have come up with some fun travel journal ideas to keep up my enthusiasm throughout the trip.

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Photo by Colton Sturgeon on Unsplash

A travel journal is one of the best souvenirs you can bring home. In it you capture feeling and memories as they happen. Opening that journal years later will transport you back to that trip and let you savor the experience all over. But that is IF you are diligent in keeping your journal. Many of us begin with enthusiasm, only to drop off as the week goes on. It’s not easy to begin writing at the end of a long day of touring.

Find a style and create a schedule to keep you on track.

Travel journal ideas: the medium

I suggest you consider the format that works best for you. Some enjoy the traditional travel diary, but some are more comfortable using technology for their notes. A video diary might be the best travel journal for you!

Journaling with technology – platforms and apps

A plus for using technology for journaling is luggage space. You already have your phone, so there’s nothing more to pack!

I try to write on my WordPress itinerary blog at the end of each day. If I’m really tired, I dictate my thoughts from my phone. Fortunately, these late night ramblings go into the private blog until I’ve had a chance to review and correct any mistakes. (the transcription of the dictation is often strange, so enjoy a laugh, but remember to edit.) I also carry a notebook, for quick entries and information. More on that later!

Paper travel journals

Some people just prefer the feel of paper and pen. And most of us know it’s smart to carry paper documentation in case phone batteries die, or there’s no internet available.

There are many options for buying a travel diary. The benefits of a printed journal is that the pages are preformatted and often include pages for contact info, itinerary, etc.. It’s easy to just pick up the journal and begin to write.

A couple of great ones for children are the Kids Travel Journal, and Go! a kids’ interactive travel diary and journal.

But consider designing your own travel journal. Creating a trip journal is a fun way to fill those exciting weeks before your trip. Your journal can be as detailed or as freewheeling as you like it. With your own self-created book, you will not end up with empty pages reminding you when you hadn’t the time or inclination to write every day.

How to set up your own travel journal

  1. Choose a notebook. Use one you have at home or buy something special. To save space I use either a Field Notes book for a short trip, or a Leuchtturm 1917 A6 notebook for a longer, more important adventure. Both of these are small enough to fit easily into my bag. But if space isn’t a problem, choose a larger notebook.
  2. Outline the pages you’d like to include. Suggestions:
    • cover page
    • index page
    • itinerary
    • contact information (hotels, travel insurance info, etc.)
    • basic phrases in local language
    • packing list
    • trip ‘bucket list’ – activities, places, foods to try
    • expenses
    • books to read before (or during) the trip
    • allow plenty of pages for your notes or memories
  3. If you plan to keep a diary in your book, designate pages and create a list of writing ideas. Megan from Cullessense has a great list of travel journal prompts.
  4. Decorate as much or as little as you choose! I’m not artistic, so I personalize my journal with 1-2 stickers before the trip and add any cute stamps or stickers I come across while traveling.

Keep going: strategies to encourage journaling

Ok. So you’ve got the journal. Now how to stay motivated to write in it?

Add some fun activity pages to your book. Some of these ideas only require checkmarks or quick dashed off notes. But knowing you need to check off that place, or write what you had for supper, will keep you coming back to the journal. Here are a few of our favorite travel journal ideas.

Add a page of…

If you’re artistic, bring sketching materials, and fill your pages with images.

If you’re a collector, add ticket stubs or postcards.

Travel Journal Idea – BINGO – photography, wildlife sightings, etc.

One of our favorite pages is a bingo page. You’ll probably remember this from the road trips we took as kids where we checked off signs or other roadside things to make BINGO.

As we love to take pictures when we travel, I make a photography game. This can be an individual challenge or a competition among traveling companions. Though in my family I’m usually doing this solo, the benefit of the photography game is that it encourages me to look at my surroundings in a deeper way. As my game ‘card’ get filled up, I find myself focusing on finding that elusive image.

Create your own photography challenge

If you’re not a photographer, you can do this with highway sightings or whatever. On our recent safari we made grids of animals and birds we hoped to see.

Travel Journal Ideas – make it easy, make it personal

Whatever medium you choose, make it something that you’ll enjoy, that will add to the trip, and not become a burden. Keep it close, so you can note things in it when there’s quiet time. Air travel is a great time to work on it.

We hope we’ve given you suggestions that will make keeping a travel journal easy and relevant. Remember, this journal is for you. No one will be grading it! Have fun!

Do you keep a travel log when you travel? What do you do to keep your interest from flagging? We’d love to add your suggestions into our next travel diary!

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