The Art of Keeping a Travel Journal

Keeping Travel Journal

When you think of a journal, you wouldn’t be alone in the mistaken idea of a teenage girl lying across her bed, socked feet swishing back and forth as she writes about her latest crush and girlfriend dramas. To think keeping a journal is reserved only for the angsty teenage girl is a myth. And if you’re not convinced, remember this – the greatest adventurers and visionaries kept journals. Think Jack Kerouac, Charles Darwin, Mark Twain, Thomas Edison, and Henry David Thoreau.

If you’re stepping into the journaling world for the first time, then a travel journal is your best place to start. Travel provides the perfect fodder for those of us lacking inspiration and motivation to write. It needn’t comprise of the endless monologues of a diary if that just isn’t your thing. Rather, it’s quite the contrary.

As the name suggests, it’s reserved for when you travel rather than the dreary ‘Dear Diary’ teenage out-pourings. It’s a way to look back on the adventures you had, in the quintessential scrapbook sort of way.

There is no specific requirement for what you put in it, and that’s what makes it an art form.

A travel journal exists to help you capture the things that were important to you on your trip so you can cherish those precious memories in the years to come. Whether it was a quick visit to a neighboring state to see a friend, an International Cruise with your family, or a solo backpacking trip, you want to be able to look back on those things that were most meaningful to you at that time.

To make the most of your travel journal experience, here are a few tips to keep you on track.

When to Make Art

The timing should be when the moment strikes. You will find the reflection upon the chaos and relaxation that is a vacation, is better captured when you keep track of little snippets whenever they arise.

While on vacation, keep an envelope with you so you can save things you might want to include later.

When you have a free moment while on a long train or waiting for the next flight, write down some highlights. A beautiful and sturdy traveler’s notebook will help you to keep everything in order.

At the end of a long day out and about in the city, organize those things you found most valuable, most entertaining, and most memorable. Those are what you want to capture–that funny bird that inspired your friends to run away screaming on the beach to the dismay of children nearby, that random park yoga class you took in Thailand at the recommendation of a vendor, or that Parisian street performer who serenaded you with a violin in front of the Eifle Tower.

What the Stats Have to Say

So, what do the stats have to say about vacations, and how does that influence the keeping of your travel journal?

Cultural Significance

Millennial’s are 13% more likely than any other age group to visit a spot with cultural or historical significance. If you are among them, don’t let that opportunity go to waste.

What to capture:

  • If you see a street act, take a picture, a flyer if they have one, or buy their music. Copy the CD cover and add it to your journal.
  • Do your best to draw a historical monument.
  • Write about the cultural foods you ate or events you watched.

Go Solo

More women today are traveling solo than before. Why? For 46% of women it’s because of the freedom, the independence it forces, and the opportunity to do whatever, whenever. And for most solo travelers, Australia remains the top destination.

What to capture:

  • When you meet other travelers along the way, have them write something in there, whether it is their inspiration for going solo, a quote that inspired them, a lesson they learned the hard way, or a funny story about what brought you together.
  • Write down your meditations while alone, the freedom it gave, and the choices you made.
  • If you get lost, as is part of the adventure, write about it and draw pictures of where you ended up.
  • Learned some new phrases to get by on your own? Add them to your journal so you’ll be empowered by your skills when you read over your previous adventures.


56% of worldwide travelers pick a vacation spot to explore the history of a city.

What to capture:

  • When you visit museums, famous outdoor parks, or anywhere else that is a historical point, keep your ticket stubs.
  • Cut and paste small parts of a museum map to draw a picture of where you liked most on your adventures or what historical event meant the most to you.

Family and Friends

52% of travelers book their vacations to see family and friends. When you’re documenting these trips you want to capture what was most important and when friends and family are involved that’s usually the personal achievements, realizations, and funny moments.

What to capture:

  • Document a time when you and your mother finally visited a location or city after years of watching the movie and wanting to go.
  • Make sure to write about the time you and your siblings tried local cuisine thinking the flavors would be sweet and in the end they turned out to be sour causing a litany of terrible faces and gagging noises.
  • Don’t forget to write down the silly faux pas or inside jokes that you came up with along the way.


Many people take the time to visit at least one country of their ancestry including 89% of Indian citizens, 69% of French citizens, and 50% of American citizens. When visiting a place with so much personal connection, it only makes sense that you would want to capture meaningful things.

What to capture:

  • If you find a statue commemorating a landmark in which your ancestors were involved, snap a photo of it and add it to a page in your travel journal.
  • Use a pencil to take a graphite image of a tombstone for a distant relative.
  • If you meet distant relatives or historians who knew your family line, have them add a contribution of historical fact to your book.

At the end of the day, your travel journal is yours. You may be the only person who ever lays eyes on its contents, so do what makes you happy!

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