Why you should keep a travel journal ( plus tips & writing prompts)


travel journal

Have you started a travel journal, or are you considering writing in one?

I’ve journaled on and off for years, starting when I was a teen. And because my family traveled often, most of my entries were about travel or were inspired by it.

I kept a journal when I went to Kenya for a summer, and filled it with bits of paper and things I collected on my travels there, including when we went to the maasai mara.

This journal became a very special item to me for several reasons. It serves as a reminder of that fantastic, life-changing trip, and it also serves as a reminder of my Father, who may not have come with me to Kenya, but was following my travels while at home in France; he purchased a guidebook on Kenya and would look up all the different places I was going to with my class. It was as though he was traveling with me.

Several years later, he passed away at age 67. I was 19 when I lost him.

When you lose someone you love, it gives you a whole different view on life, and how fleeting things are. My Dad traveled even more than I did, and by visiting my journal entries and looking at his atlas, I think about how similar we were/are.

My point with this story is that keeping a journal can serve multiple purposes.

It can help you have a deeper experience on your travels by jotting down what happened each day, and it can also be a way to preserve your memories.

Finding A Good Travel Journal

Any notebook or journal can be transformed into an inspiring travel journal. All you need are some crafting/journaling supplies ( washi tape and scissors) and your favorite pen.

Moleskin journals are a popular option. They come in a variety of colors and styles. However, if you want a spiral bound journal ( which is better if you’re going to be adding a lot of inserts and photos), you could use a plain old run-of-the-mill notebook that you can find at Target or Tesco.

Some people use travel journals like art journals, and they add beautiful images and details, like illustrations and maybe a little glitter.

At the end of the day, your travel journal is personal and should be based on your interests and what works for you. In other words, there is no ‘right way’ to travel journal. If that’s a verb!

My first one had some drawings and other details, but was mainly just my writing. The one I started in Kenya was more detailed and had attachments, like brochures and such.

Related Post: How to accomplish your travel goals

Travel Journaling: Where To Start

The best place to begin travel journaling is before you even leave on your adventure. In fact, you could start a journal that’s a place to jot down your travel bucket list, even if you don’t have a trip planned in the foreseeable future.

One of my first journals was indeed just that. I’d talk over and over about wanting to go back to France, which is where I spent a good portion of my childhood. I would also brainstorm ideas of where to take the train when I was there, as usually I just stayed in Antibes ( where we lived) and yearned to get out more and explore neighboring cities.

Here are some prompts to help you begin your travel journal, even if you have no trip planned:

The top 3 places I want to visit are….

When I go to ______________ I want to bring ________________ with me to experience it.

5 temples I want to see in Asia……

Road trip ideas for North America

I want to go to ______________ and eat at these 5 restaurants…..

The Michelin stared restaurants I want to dine at this year are…..

I want to take cooking classes in…..

I want to do a photography tour of……

The photography gear I’d like to bring with me to _____________ is……

Make a list of travel clothes you’d like to bring with you

Trains I’d like to go on….

If I met up with Anthony Bourdain, I’d take him to eat at ________________.

I’d like to do a travel photography project about ______________ and publish my journey on a blog/travel site.

Famous cocktails from around the world I’d like to drink ….

List 15 hotels you’d love to stay at.

When I’m in France, I really want to try ______________________.

If I won a free trip to anywhere in the world, it would be __________________________.

My favorite travel photographer is ______________________ and I find her/him inspiring because _________________________.

List the top ten travel memoirs or books you want to read this year.

How to start a travel journal

Journaling Online

One of the many reasons I blog here ( and on my other sites) is because it’s basically like a travel journal, and one that shares my photos and posts with an audience that may benefit from my journey.

You can start a private or public travel blog using Blogger, Squarespace, WordPress, or Tumblr. Or conversely, you can use Instagram as a microblog! This is something that many of my friends do, especially those who are parents and want to share their life abroad with family members who live in another country. In fact, one of my friends ( who is a celebrity here in Thailand) has a private Instagram account that says in the description ‘Instagram is my journal’ and she often shares photos from her travels, as well as daily life.

You absolutely don’t have to make your journal public. It’s completely optional, and just like with Instagram, you can make blog posts private.

Travel Journal Apps

There are also a number of travel journal apps that have emerged, which are extremely convenient for us phone-loving people who are taking pics on the go.

Bonjournal is one such app. It allows you to write journal entries and include photos, and has a sleek, minimalist design, which really makes your photos stand out amidst the white space and black font. Find Penguins and Travel Diaries are similar, but they also allow you to order a physical copy of your online travel journal, if you want. This is a great option if you want both a digital and hardcopy of your journal.

Regardless of whether you start a travel journal right on your phone or go the old fashioned route and use pen & paper, it’s worth doing it, even if you aren’t traveling at the moment. In fact, your travel journal entrees may inspire your next trip or give you an idea on where to honeymoon or spend spring break. By using the prompts I list above, it will help you brainstorm places to see and hotels to stay at, and your responses may give you some excellent ideas for creative travel projects ( like publishing a photobook or taking an architecture class).


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