My husband and I just got back from an amazing, kid-free (thank you Grandma!) trip to Europe. We had so much fun exploring three new countries. To remember the trip, I kept a journal as we traveled. I really love to journal while I’m traveling for many reasons. This trip got me thinking about what makes a good travel journal entry and why it’s important to document the adventure.
What is a travel journal and what are they used for?
Travel journals are used to write about 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. Travel journal entries are also great for when you get around to making a photo book of your trip.
Why write as you travel?
– To make your trip unforgettable.
Literally. If you write down your memories, you can’t forget them! Some of you may think, “But this trip was so amazing there is no way I’d forget it!”. I’m sure with the big stuff that is true, but there is no way to remember the important details without writing them down. These are the things which can take you right back to your vacation, which is a main reason to write the journal in the first place.
– To make self discoveries.
Traveling, especially to a new place, is a wonderful way to push your limits. 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. If you plan on being in nature on your trip, this is especially a great place to do this kind of journal writing. The great outdoors is a great place to write in your travel journal.
– To learn about new people and places.
Similarly, keeping a journal while traveling is a great idea because you also learn more about a different part of the world (even if it is just the city next door). Traveling inherently allows you to see how things work somewhere other than where you live. It allows you to view things from another’s perspective, and experience what you haven’t before. That is something worth documenting.
– Because you have the time and energy.
Some of you may think that writing is the last thing you want to do while on vacation. It’s cool, I can understand that. However, if you are doing it right, writing in a travel journal shouldn’t be a chore, it should be fun! Your entries also don’t have to be long or elaborate. Traveling is the perfect time to reflect and think those deep thoughts that the minutiae of everyday life doesn’t always allow for. Even just a few bullets can mean a lot in the future.
How to keep a meaningful travel journal
Ok, so how do you do it? Some people keep travel-only journals, some write journal entries in their regular journal. Some write in a physical book, some combine entries with pictures on a computer or app (this is what I do). There is no right answer here as long as you do write something somewhere that will last. Below I’ve put together some tips for what I’ve found makes a meaningful travel journal entry.
6 Tips for writing a solid travel journal entry
1. Write what you feel, not what you did.
Although it’s important to remember what you did while traveling, writing gets boring when you just copy down your itinerary into a journal. When you write what you feel, you breathe life into the entry because you make it more of a story, rather than a list. Documenting feelings creates a unique vantage point of any experience, because no one but you knows your emotions.
2. Don’t write a lot.
Really think about your day and what you enjoyed or hated the most. Figure out what was important and what you want to remember and then spend your time there. This doesn’t need to be an all encapsulating entry, nor does it have to include everything you did. You can print out your itinerary for that. Remember the point of this journal entry is to take you back to the highlights you want to relive.
3. If you don’t feel inspired, don’t write.
Writing becomes a chore when people write because they feel they have to. That’s also when the guilt sets in if they choose not to write that day. No need for shame – it’s perfectly acceptable to wait until something excites you.
4. Write what you think you’ll forget
Might sound obvious, but consider writing down the funny little moments that don’t seem all that important. Usually those are the things you’ll forget, and the things that will mean the most to you when reading them back. Here is a list of ideas of things to write if you’re needing help getting started.
5. Write at the end of each day to cap off the day.
It helps your mind unwind, it allows you to relive your day while it’s fresh, and makes the task of documenting your trip easier to manage. I find the longer I wait to write things down, the less I remember. Put another way, the more quickly you document, the more detailed and accurate your memory will be.
6. Use it for travel photo books
Don’t forget while you’re writing to include things that you may want to put in a photo book later. I usually don’t get around to putting my photo memories in a photo book for several years (I know! Shame shame.) But another benefit of writing these journal entries real-time is it makes putting the photo books together easier – whenever you get to it.
Ready to get started? Click here for 10 possible topics for your next travel journal entry.