Travel journals can be a powerful tool to help you remember places you’ve traveled, people you’ve met, and things you’ve experienced while away from regular life. The main purpose of a travel journal is to help you centralize all of your thoughts, feelings, and information about a specific trip so you can relive it whenever you read the journal.
In a previous blog post we talked about how to keep a meaningful travel journal and also gave tips about how to write a solid travel journal entry. You still may be looking for ideas for what to write in your own travel journal. While my husband and I were abroad recently, I put together this list of 10 possible entry topics. Feel free to steal whatever resonates with you!
10 Possible Topics for Travel Journal Entries
1. Write what you did
If you are looking for ideas on what to write about, start with your itinerary. Usually writing about what you did on your trip will help you get the creative juices flowing. I oftentimes will use my itinerary as a framework for some of my journal entries.
Do be careful with this one, however. You don’t need your travel journal to outline every single thing you did on every day of your trip. Sometimes doing so can become a monotonous chore. Instead, pick a few of the most important events of your trip and spend your time elaborating on those. Your journal should reflect more than just a simple list of what you did.
2. Why did you choose to go on the trip?
People often forget this one, and it’s one of the more important things you can write about. You want your journal to read more like a story than a disconnected bunch of thoughts. Stating your purpose for going on this adventure gives your journal depth and voice.
Explaining your purpose for traveling also provides a lot of great context for other entries you will write. You may want to include why you chose the location you did or why you so badly need a vacation at that moment in your life.
3. What did things look like?
Traveling introduces us to many new sights, views, and perspectives, all of which can be forgotten if not recorded properly. Sure, we all take thousands of pictures every year, but have you ever taken a picture that didn’t do the view justice? Taking the time to describe what you see around you expands what you can capture with just the camera lens. It’s also a great exercise to help you be in the moment and appreciate the beauty around you.
When we first went to the Grand Canyon, it was hard to capture with a picture how breathtaking it truly was. I had never seen anything like it before. Writing about how I perceived the view improved the scope and quality of the memory. So try it out! Write about clothes people wore, colors in the sunset, or views in nature.
4. What did things smell like?
Have you ever smelled something that reminded you of your childhood? Smell is a powerful sense that is sometimes difficult to describe, but when captured can transport you back to a specific memory. I have a specific journal entry from when my husband and I visited Thailand a few years ago that focused all on smells. Each time I read it, it takes me right back to the sunscreen applied on the beaches, the local cooking done in the markets, and the flowers left at the temples.
In your travel journal, try describing the salty sea breeze, the musk of the streets, or the smell of the rain on the pavement. It may feel unusual at first, but these are the kinds of entries that will mean the world to you reading back.
5. What did things taste like?
If you’re anything like me, food is one of the most enjoyable parts of your life, let alone your trip. Giving details about the taste of the foods you ate can bring feelings of nostalgia and joy, not to mention make your mouth water.
Not sure where to start when it comes to taste? Try the following questions. What was your favorite meal? What was your least favorite meal? What was the most unusual thing you ate? What was your favorite dessert? How did the food compare to what you eat at home?
6. What did things feel like when you touched them?
Describing textures can be a great way to remind you of an experience. Try mentioning things like warm water of a hot spring, the grainy sand if you went to the beach, the texture of the fabric you touched, or a child’s cold nose after playing in the snow.
Another aspect of touch to document is the weather. When my husband and I were outside Amsterdam in The Netherlands, it was very cold and rainy. In my travel journal, I made sure to describe how the mist and rain felt on my cold cheeks, as well as how it was not pleasant to have wet toes.
7. What did things sound like?
When on Safari in Africa we camped overnight in the Kalahari bush. For what seemed like hours, I couldn’t sleep because of the loud roars of lions, the laughing of hyenas and other wildlife in the distance. I was alone with my fear in a pitch black tent. All of a sudden, I heard a new sound that was much closer to us. In my delirium, it took me a solid half hour of breathing quietly in my tent to realize that it was the familiar sound of my husband’s snoring. Describing sounds like these help to complete your memories of your trips.
Consider writing any of these sounds you may have heard. List what songs were on your road trip playlist, describe the crashing ocean waves, or write about the funny way your nephew pronounced that one word.
Sidenote: If you ever plan on going to Iceland, please check out the Secret Life of Walter Mitty Soundtrack. Very much recommended!
8. Did you learn something interesting on your trip that you didn’t know before?
Traveling, especially to a new place, is a wonderful way to expand your mind. This is because most things that put us out of our comfort zone also catalyze our growth. Writing about events that are different, exciting or uncomfortable can be a great way to self-reflect and learn more about yourself.
Did you learn any unique facts about a place you visited? Did you have an “out of comfort zone” moment? What self realizations did you have? How has this trip impacted your life? Include all of it.
9. Write about the people you encounter.
People you are with on your adventures can make or break your journey. All interactions, including the strange meeting you had with the gas station attendant or the meaningful conversations you had with your dad, impact your memory of the trip. These encounters are worth remembering and should be documented.
Writing about different cultures or traditions you discover on your trip can be a rich experience. You may want to consider writing down a quote you heard a local say, or the name of your tour guide. Details like these help make the entry more vivid.
10. Describe the ups and downs of your trip.
What went smoothly? What didn’t? What would you love to do again? What will you stay clear of next time? What made you want to kiss the ground the moment you got home? What made you want to jump on the next plane flight back to your trip’s destination?
Travel doesn’t always go as planned, and route detours can be expected. Documenting these parts of the journey, as well as how you handled them, can add some color to your travel journal.
Hopefully this post gave you some ideas for what to write on your next vacation. For more tips on how to make your travel journal more meaningful, click here. Make your next trip unforgettable – keep a travel journal!