Why do you travel? For rejuvenation? Cultural exploration? Personal growth? Transformation? It’s no secret travel can be life-changing, but are you getting as much out of your adventures as possible?
It’s easy to experience travel’s external shifts. Simply stepping outside your routine, culture and comfort zone will open your eyes to new inspirations, thoughts and ways of being.
So what’s the missing component for a lot of travelers? The internal experience: Intentional self-reflection.
Without purposeful examination of your own beliefs, attitudes and actions in context to the world around you—in other words, the why behind your thoughts, feelings and actions—you’re only getting a piece of the full experience.
The good news is that the key to unlocking your most meaningful and memorable travels doesn’t have to mean spending thousands of dollars on wellness retreats or guided tours. Keeping a vacation journal is the simplest way to have a more mindful, engaged and transformative travel experience.
Don’t be intimidated by the thought of a vacation journal. You don’t need to be a good writer or scrapbooker or artist. You don’t even need to spend a ton of time using it on your vacation to reap the benefits.
What’s Inside this Article:
Travel is one of the greatest ways to invest in ourselves, but are you missing out on a greater return on your investment? Here are a few clues that you might not be getting the most out of your travels.
1. You need a vacation from your vacation. You know the feeling. Some trips are so jam-packed with activities or jumping from place to place that you don’t even stop to breath let alone actually be where you are.
2. Your trip’s a blur and you have a hard time recalling the details. Have you ever tried to recap your vacation to a friend but can’t remember much about what you did and saw, let alone how the experience impacted you?
3. You went shallow and wide. You checked a ton of must-sees off your list but didn’t get an authentic sense of the local culture.
4. You went back to your normal routine without feeling inspired. Instead, that post-vacation depression kicked in hard and you fell right back into the same rut.
So how can you get more out of your travels? The answer isn’t seeing or doing more. It’s introspection.
Fun fact: What do the greatest minds in history have in common? Journaling. Daily journaling improves creativity, clarity, focus, productivity and happiness. Combine that with travel, and woah, talk about seeing the world with new eyes.
Sure, travel journaling helps you remember what you did, where you went and what you ate…all important things, of course. However, when kept with the intention of personal growth, a vacation journal can turn your travels into something more meaningful, memorable and transformative.
How? Writing a travel journal helps you:
- slow down, even if it’s just for a few minutes a day
- become more mindful, really noticing your destination in a full sensory experience
- make meaning from what you’re experiencing
- examine your life from a distance and find clarity
- know yourself on a deeper level
- ease anxiety and bring a sense of calm and openness to your day
- discover inspiration and new insights that you might have otherwise skimmed over
- ignite your curiosity for your destination and the culture
- figure out your personal values
Ah, the big question. What to include a travel journal? First of all, if you don’t like writing lengthy tales, scrapbooking or drawing you don’t have to do that. There are no rules, just what works for you.
Some people like writing practical travel details in their journals. I tend to use digital platforms like TripIt to store my flight, accommodation and transportation details. But if you like to keep everything offline and in one place, you could certainly include those in your journal.
Beyond the basics, I like to include short notes on:
- an intention for the day, either something personal I want to focus on or something to spark adventure and curiosity
- things the trip makes me feel grateful for
- what I’m learning to let go of and surrender to
- the excitement and anticipation I feel each day
- the most memorable moment of each day
- what new questions are coming up
- what feelings I noticed throughout the day
If you’re ready to dive in, head over to my Ultimate Guide to Travel Journaling for more travel journal ideas.
Hands down, the best way to get the most out of your travel journal is with travel journal prompts. No more staring at a blank page. No more simply listing a play-by-play of your day without deeper insight. You can grab my favorite journal prompts here to use on your next trip.