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Writing a travel journal is a great way to keep your most precious memories readily available … and permanent. Now, just to clarify things, we’re not talking about a travel blog. We’re talking an old school “pencil and paper” journal. Yes, they still exist, haha. I do have a post on how to create an awesome travel blog, though.
Confession time. I’ll admit I failed big time at keeping a travel journal. 90% of my travels are journal – less. For example, I wrote some funny stories while on solo my trips to Paris and Ireland, but then … I stopped writing in a travel journal entirely. My habit disappeared mostly due to my own laziness and lack of motivation. I wanted to explore the sites, not write. Writing was for school, not solo trips. So my travel journal dreams died.
Now I regret it. I may be blond (har har), but I brag about having a strong memory. Seriously, I can remember fleeting moments from my kindergarten days. I’m especially good at remembering words said in passing – even years later – and this is a talent I don’t always appreciate.
However, despite my brain working in overdrive to cherish all of life’s moments, it’s still impossible to remember every colorful joke, every meal, every cool museum display, that I encountered on my trips. No one’s memory is that outstanding, not even mine.
So, on my next journey, whenever that happens, I need to write in a travel journal and keep it near and dear to my heart.
You should too. There are many beautiful travel journals to choose from so pick one unique to you.
Buckle in, writers. These are my best suggestions for writing a travel journal.
How to Write a Travel Journal
There are no rules for writing a travel journal! The decisions are yours, my friend!
Okay, I know, total non-answer, right?
What to write in a travel journal all depends on your personal goals. If you’re writing a travel journal for professional reasons, then you might want to check Don George’s book How to Be a Travel Writer. Don George’s book has tips for your on-the-road research and ways to create a great travel stories. Your travel journal can be a valuable tool if you want to pitch to newspapers and magazines after your trip. This little investment goes a long way toward your literary dreams.
Furthermore, I recommend following Stephen King’s advice, which is you need to read to write. So check out The Best of American Travel Writing, which is filled with excellent short form examples.
However, if you want to write your travel journal just for you, then that’s an awesome goal too! You’ll have tangible memories to return to time and time again, allowing you to relieve your trip on those dreary boring work days when you need the extra encouragement and inspiration.
In this post, I’ve included some of my own tips for writing a travel journal. But again, there are no rules. So if my advice doesn’t want for you, feel free to throw it out the window. Beautiful, huh?
Writing a Travel Journal Tip #1
Jot all the insecurities you feel before your trip.
I think we all experience insecurities prior to departure. I know I’m only speaking from my own experience, but I still feel butterflies about traveling, and I’ve taken at least 10 solo trips in the last few years. Anxiety happens to the best of us. When you’re writing in your journal, please don’t shy away from those uneasy feelings nagging at you. They are important for you to acknowledge and confront. So, instead of hiding, I want you to write about any anxiety you feel before you board your plane.
Why? So you can refer back to reading about your scared moments whenever you hit future uncertain times in your life. These entries are valuable tools that serve to remind you of just how brave you are. Heck, even talk about what went wrong on a particular day when you’re in the middle of your travels. Authenticity is in short supply. So, when you’re on your trip, you can even write about your travel screw ups so you can have a good laugh (or three) later. Keep it real. 100% real.
Writing a Travel Journal Tip #2
Write every single day. Even for five minutes.
Now, trust me, I totally understand it’s hard to find time to write when you’re busy seeing new museums, taking hikes, and eating at unique restaurants. You paid all this money to travel, so you actually want to savor the experience. So, while I understand it’s a chore, you should still set aside a specific time to write in your travel journal. I know this is much much much easier said than done, especially if you’re the type of traveler who “overpacks” their adventures and needs to see “everything.” It never feels like enough time exists in a day.
So my personal suggestion is for you to pause and set aside five minutes before bed or before breakfast to talk about your travel plans. What do you want to see? What did you actually see? Why did you want to see it? Was the experience worth it? Did anyone say anything super funny that you need to write down? Did you learn something new about yourself?
You see where I’m going with this, right? You don’t even have to write in complete sentences or use appropriate grammar (yes, I’m an English teacher and give you permission) in your entries! Just jot down all that inspires you in any given moment.
Writing a Travel Journal Tip #3
Location, location, location.
Always write down your location! Like I said, I have a great memory, but even I can’t remember where I was based on any given date. Writing down your location keeps your journal organized and easier to read at a later date. Furthermore, this tip is especially essential if you’re visiting a tiny town with a super unusual name attached to it. You might even want to devote an entry to the specific neighborhood you’re based in if you’re staying in a larger city such as New York or London. If you’re staying in unique accommodation, don’t neglect to talk about it! Where you rest your head at night is a big part of the over all travel experience that shouldn’t be neglected.
Writing a Travel Journal Tip #4
Don’t write The Lord of the Rings for every entry.
Let’s be honest with ourselves. When we travel, we wake up early, walk miles to see the sights, enjoy the food and drinks, take day tours to nearby cities … We don’t really have time to sit down and write pages and pages of travel memoirs. So don’t put undue pressure on yourself to write the “next Great American Novel,” because then you’ll never write a single bloody word!
Keep your entries brief. A couple of sentences describing your day will suffice. If you want to write more, then go for it, but don’t stress yourself out. Especially turn off that “inner editor” when you write all your awesome stories. You know who I’m talking about, right? The voice inside your head that states your writing isn’t good enough and should never see the light of day ever again? You’re writing for yourself, not an audience and especially not literary critics, so even if your writing skills aren’t on par with Shakespeare’s, don’t lose sleep over it. Again, write for yourself.
Of course, if you like writing a TON of detail, then go for it. Remember what I said about there being no rules? Haha.
Writing a Travel Journal Tip #5
Go ahead and scrap it!
Glue souvenir receipts, boarding passes, and museum tickets into your journal’s pages. The more tangible items you can keep, the better it will be for writing your travel journal! Why? Well you’ll have clearer memories of those places, too, if you save your ticket stubs and maps!
Time to make another confession, my dears. I threw away sooooooo many mementos over my years of traveling and now I deeply regret it. Don’t make my mistakes, please. Keep allllll of those random bits that you collect over the course of your travels and give them a new home in the pages of your journal. It’s one of the best gifts you can give yourself.
So go ahead and scrap it!
Check Out These Adorable Travel Journals
Ready to start writing your travel journals? Here are some adorable books to keep your memories in! Happy shopping.
- Refillable Handmade Traveler’s Notebook. Who doesn’t like refillable pages? Makes everything a lot simpler.
- Moleskine Classic Notebook. These journals are popular for a reason. Clean, simple, and perfect to bring with you on your next trip.
- Moleskine Voyageur Traveller’s Notebook. A swanky hardcover notebook just perfect for your upcoming adventure!
- You Are Here: A Mindful Travel Journal. Not sure where to begin? This journal will get you started on your travel writing ways!
Do you like to write on your trips? Why or why not? Do you have any tips for writing a travel journal?