How to write a Travel Journal

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Do you want to start a travel journal or want to make more of the one you have? I have kept a travel journal for the last few years and am in love with it. It is one of my favourite souvenirs from my travels. I like noting down memories as I go and adding in pieces of the places I have been. It means a lot to me to be able to flick back and read things which might have otherwise been forgotten.

Here is my guide to getting started and making the most of your journal.

The notebook.

You don’t need a fancy notebook, just a pen and paper will get you started. Or go digital if your prefer and use a note taking app. However, I love a pretty notebook and a paper journal is my preferred option.

Personally I love Moleskine notebooks (not sponsored!). My first Moleskine notebook traveled with me to over 15 places for over two years and has survived being squished  in my hand luggage countless times without even any dog-eared corners. It also has a handy pocket in the back to save bits and pieces as you go.

I like to try and buy my next notebook while travelling as it adds to the fun and I note on the inside back cover when and where it was purchased. The one I am using now for example is from at the Tenement Museum in NYC and my next is a Beatles themed Moleskine I bought in Sardinia.

Who is the Journal for?

Think about who the diary is for. Is it just for you or to share with your friends, this will help you decide what to include. I write mostly for me, but do occasionally show it to friends and family. I like to keep one for my travels with my boyfriend and another for trips with friends/on my own. These means that as a couple we have a collection of journals that are just for our trips.

Get into a writing routine.

Not essential but I try to write everyday or so, even small details, it helps keep momentum. I think getting things down while they are still fresh usually makes them more interesting. Also the more you leave to write in one go the more it feels like a chore when you do get round to it and if you are tired of writing what you capture won’t be as fun.

Use your downtime, I love to write in on a Beach lounger or on the train/plane. Writing in your journal is also a great boredom buster when waiting in airports etc.

If you do feel time poor one day, just jot down a short list of keys things to remind and you can add to it later if you want.

Use pictures for quick note taking

Take a speedy photo of things your want to remember and write about e.g. historic plaques/ info boards or the menu to remember the name of restaurant and the of the delish dish you just ordered.

Don’t transcribe

Try to record moments and don’t just transcribe everything you have done, e.g. I did this and then I did that. I found this hard at first but it does make the journal more fun and lets you be more creative. Try to use all of your senses. I suggest starting a new journal entry by describing where you are in that moment, for example the sights and sounds of the beach you are lying on.

Here are a few things to think about if you are stuck:

  • What surprised you?
  • What amused you?
  • Sights, smells, sounds
  • What conversations have you had or or overhear?
No Pressure

Your travel journal is meant to be fun, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself, you don’t have to write a novel. That said I would recommend trying to finish up your entries before getting home, I am rubbish at going back to write up the last day when I am back in my own home. It just feels last fun to write from your own sofa.

Don’t just use words

Be creative, add a sketch, or scrapbook in tickets, a label from a local beer bottle, pictures etc. I only write on one side of my journal and use the opposite page to add in other things when I get home. Or you could carry a wee Pritt-stick and glue on the go if you prefer. This is where a journal with a pocket in the back is handy to store the mementos you collect. (Another plus for moleskine is that it has held together well despite getting fat with my stuck in ticket stubs and photos)

Get your travel buddies involved

If you are travelling with others, get them involved. I like to include quotes from the trip. If you have kids get them to draw a picture. Or ask your friend to make a note of their favourite moment on the hotel stationery and glue it in.

What do you use for your travel journal? I love stationery, please let me know below or if you prefer life in 140 characters or less I’m on Twitter at @eatcheesetravel

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One comment

  1. This is great. I have written travel journals for years and love looking back on them re living memories. I stick in all sorts of bits and pieces. I have just got an instamatic camera and am looking forward to using that to take pictures of ‘moments’ to include in my journals

    Liked by 1 person

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