Over the years I’ve met a lot of travelers who intend on keeping a journal while traveling…and then don’t journal at all once abroad.
Sometimes the problem is that they haven’t found the right journal. Most of the time, though, the problem is that they start out all excited and ready to journal throughout their trip and then simply lose steam.
I so get it.
Even though I’m an avid journaler at home, I haven’t always journaled as much as I’d intended while traveling.
Over the years, I’ve figured out what works to keep me journaling while on a trip, so I put together this list of nine tips on how to travel journal successfully. I hope you find it helpful!
9 Travel Journaling Tips
- Buy your travel journal before you leave on your trip. That way you can make travel notes and lists, record your travel research, and write down your pre-trip feelings and impressions, which are always interesting to look back and read after your trip. Plus, you’ll have something to do on your flight when you can’t sleep and are sick of bad movies. And if you happen find a journal you love while traveling, you’ve got a great souvenir that you can use on your next trip!
- Pack your travel journal and a pen (or entire travel journal kit) in an easy-to-access part of your carry on or day bag. That way, when you’re in transit or out sightseeing, you can easily journal whenever you get a few free minutes.
- Put your phone down and pull out your travel journal! Got 5 minutes? Jot down 3 things you can see from where you’re sitting. Got 10 minutes? Make a list of what you’ve done so far and what you plan to do the rest of the day. Who says you have to have lots of uninterrupted time to journal? Make use of the nooks and crannies of free time during your busy travel days, and instead of defaulting to your phone, take out your journal.
- Tell your internal editor to back off. There are no journaling rules. Your journal is for you, so journal however you want! Write a little, write a lot, make lists, write poems, draw, write stream-of-consciousness…whatever you feel like doing is totally ok. The most important thing is that you keep journaling because a blank journal won’t help you reminisce about your trip years later.
- Balance inspiration with reality. You may be super inspired by the gorgeous bullet and travel journals on Pinterest and Instagram (I am!), but if you’re not already in a bullet journal routine or if your trip is packed from morning until night, you may be disappointed that you can’t keep up with complicated journaling. So many people simply stop journaling once they feel “behind.” So before your trip, think about what you’d like to accomplish with your travel journal, as well as what your schedule will actually allow.
- Details make the difference. When I look back at my travel journals, what’s most interesting (and sparks the most memories) are the details about what I packed, how much our lunch in Florence cost, how far we walked in Paris that one day, how I felt while watching the sun set over the Mediterranean with my husband, what I made for dinner in my AirBnB, etc. Your future self will love reading these details so don’t leave them out!
- Get creative! Use different pen colors. Doodle. Use fancy lettering. Use washi tape to tape in ticket stubs, chocolate wrappers, postcards, pressed flowers, and anything else you collect (if you don’t want to paste it into your journal, collect everything in an envelope or ziplock bag to keep with your journal). Pick up fun stickers, paperclips or more washi while you’re traveling. You could even get one of those little Instax instant cameras that prints out little photos and paste those into your journal as you travel!
- Bring a ziplock bag and a glue stick. I love collecting travel ephemera like receipts, ticket stubs, random free postcards, stamps, flyers, etc. I simply toss anything that looks interesting in a ziplock bag. I don’t add everything I collect to my travel journal but including selected items adds another dimension to my journal. I often bring a small glue stick or glue dots so I can paste items into my journal while I’m abroad.
- Not every entry needs to be long. On days you want to write in your journal but you’re just too exhausted, try making a list of your top 5 favorite moments, a mindmap of your day, a list of what you ate for each meal or even just an emoji that sums everything up.