How many times have you sat in awe of the landscape in front of you? Or felt completely at home in a foreign land? Or connected with yourself on deeper level while roaming the streets of a strange city?
These are the travel memories worth fighting for.
And yes, sometimes, holding onto those memories feels like a fight. As the years pass, our lives spin in different directions, adventures accumulate and the details blur.
Photographs can bring back moments, but a travel journal fills in the gaps, breathing life to our past sojourns. After all, the most meaningful travel memories go beyond where you’ve been and what you’ve seen. They remind you of how far you’ve come as a person.
At first, travel journaling can seem like work. And who wants to work on vacation? Don’t worry though, travel journaling doesn’t have to be all about gorgeous hand lettering and watercolor paintings. It doesn’t have to be a scrapbook or well-penned tales of epic adventures. It doesn’t have to be a play-by-play of what you did every day. It can be as simple or as intricate as you’d like.
That’s why I’ve rounded up 19 travel journal ideas that will inspire you to cultivate your inner and outer explorations in a way that works for you.
Mindful Travel Journal Ideas
These travel journal ideas will help you be exactly where you are, which is the best way to get the most out of your trip and make travel memories you’ll cherish forever.
Pre-trip intention setting. When you set a travel intention, you’re able to make better decisions about how you spend your time, leading to more fulfilling experiences and meaningful memories. Before you head out on your trip, journal about your ideal travel mindset. Through what mental lense do you want to explore? What do you want to experience personally and culturally? What kind of inspiration or creativity do you seek? How do you want to connect to yourself and others?
A worry dump. It’s hard to let go of work obligations and personal stresses, even when we’re in the midst of exciting adventures. For your next trip, put an end to nagging thoughts with a worry dump. It’s pretty self explanatory, just write down everything that’s weighing heavy on your mind. You can even create to-do list for when you return. Once it’s down on paper, you can let it go mentally and focus on enjoying your trip. Bonus: It’s a lovely ritual to do on your flight to get you into vacation mode.
A skeleton itinerary. Plot your scheduled activities in your journey, but leave plenty of whitespace in your itinerary for wandering. Planning every single moment of your trip will suck the magic out of it fast. If you’re the type who needs to have every moment of the day planned (I get it, I really do), then literally schedule in time for mindful wandering, which is when you get lost on purpose paying close attention to the details that surround you.
Quick, daily travel journal prompts. If you’re anything like me, it’s hard to keep up a travel journaling routine while you’re on the road. But so often, when I try to recall what happened when I return home, I forget the little things that brought me joy, the teachable lessons and the memorable moments that happened by happenstance.
The gifts of travel are often found in the small, quiet moments—not the sights, but the insights. To help capture the details that so quickly slip away, spend just 5 minutes asking yourself three simple questions each day of your trip. What made me think today? What brought me joy today? What was the most memorable moment of the day?
Self-reflection prompts. After your journey, look back on your experiences and reflect on what you discovered about yourself and your perspective on the world. Try travel journal prompts like “I felt the most alive when…,” “My biggest challenge was…” and “I got really curious about…”.
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Creative Travel Journal Ideas
Want to have more fun with your journal? These travel diary ideas are easy and creative (no artistic skills required).
Comfort zone challenges. Write down a challenge for yourself each day that pushes you outside your comfort zone. Maybe you want to connect with locals but don’t speak the language. Give yourself a challenge to learn one common word or phrase and say it to someone. Whatever it is, make it safe, of course, and simple to do. Sometimes, when traveling, it’s the smallest things that push us to grow.
Travel writing prompts. These prompts are a little different than the ones focused on self-reflection. Instead, they focus on your destination, igniting all of your senses and helping you capture your experiences in a way that’s not possible in photographs. Try describing a color or pattern that’s unique to your destination. Write about your favorite dish using all of your senses. Imaging what a day in your life would be like if you lived there.
Event mementos. From train tickets to show bulletins and all the papers in between, there are plenty of event mementos to include in your journal. Here’s a tip: instead of just pasting them into your journal, write a note to remember how it made you feel. Give it a review, a star rating, or write down if you’d recommend it to a friend.
Overheard conversations. Some might call it eavesdropping. I call it social anthropology. 😉 Either way, find a public spot and settle in for a while. Tune into your surroundings and scan the nearby conversations happening around you. Does anything make you laugh? Make you think? Shed light on local life? Write it down as you hear it.
Foods or drink labels. Love that local craft beer or that cheese you bought from the market outside your hotel? Paste the label in your travel journal. It’s a fun way to remember your favorite things and a colorful travel diary idea as well.
Dried foliage or botanicals. Press a flower petal or leave sprig in between journal pages until it dries. Then carefully attach it using glue or washi tape. Word to the wise: Some countries don’t allow you to bring organic matter from international destinations, so confirm customs laws before you do this. Also, never take anything from national parks or other environmentally sensitive areas.
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Inspiring Travel Journal Ideas
Did you know that travel journaling can make you happier at home? These inspirational travel journal ideas will help you create a travel-inspired life.
Pre-travel anticipation activities. According to science, anticipating a trip makes us even happier than the traveling itself. Use your journal to write down all the things to do before your trip to boost excitement, like watching movies or reading books set in your destination.
Printed photos. Of course photos are a must-have addition to any travel journal. Use a Polaroid camera or print out small 2×3 or 4×6 photos to include in your diary. Washi tape is a great way to secure your photos in place and add a little design to your pages as well.
Inspirational quotes. Can’t go wrong with an inspirational travel quote, right? Collect your favorites from Pinterest, books or magazines and sprinkle them throughout your travel journal.
Trip highlights. At the end of your trip, write down your top experiences. The idea isn’t to write down everything, only the most important travel memories that you don’t want to forget. Travel journal prompts are great for this as well. Try prompts like “my most mind-blowing meal was…,” “my wildest adventure was…,” and “my favorite neighborhood is…”.
Travel-inspired habits to adopt at home. I love this one! Note the moments, big or small, that made you the happiest. Think about what you learned and what kind of habits or lifestyle takeaways you discovered. Then write down how you can incorporate more of that into your life at home.
Notes from new friends. Hopefully you’ll meet a few people on your trip that you don’t want to forget. Nowadays, we can follow each other on Instagram or email back and forth. But there’s a lot of charm about a handwritten note from a friend.
Songs that remind you of your trip. Music can have a huge impact on mood and in the context of travel, it’s a great way to recall how you felt and what you experienced during a trip. Write down a playlist of songs or lyrics that will always remind you of that great American road trip, your first African safari or that time you bronzed on the beach in Croatia all summer.
Local recipes. Discovered a dish you love? Get the recipe! Write it down in your journal next a photo of it and a quick note about why you liked it so much and its cultural history.
Tell me in the comments, which travel journal ideas will you try? In what other meaningful ways do you document your travels?