Keep A Travel Journal With These Five Easy Tips

⌛ By Kaylin R. Staten

Journaling is a major part of my life. When I feel anxious, excited or any other emotion, I write in journals to put my thoughts to paper. These journals contain irrational thoughts, memories, my most coveted hopes and dreams. I’m a natural chronicler, and I’ve been recording my days since I was a little girl. (I must say, looking back on those letters and wish lists to Santa are hilarious.)

I also have several travel journals. When I was younger, I would write about trips in my regular journal, but these days, I have separate journals for special trips.

Here’s a sample of a travel journal post before my first Paris trip in April/May 2012:


(Stay tuned for next Thursday's blog post -- it will be all about my favorite places in Paris!)

Even if you’re not the journaling type, you may want to relive a special trip of a lifetime. Here are five benefits to keeping a travel journal on your next vacation. 

Travel journals can add dimension to your travel photos.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but sometime in the future, you may not remember much about a particular photograph. Why did you feel compelled to take a photo of a certain building in New York City? Instead of spinning the wheels of your brain, write something in your travel journal to signify what sparked your creative interest. Did you want to live in a building like that someday, or did its art deco facade inspire your next work project? Write things down to remember! You can go back and add photos as needed, too.

They can also help you plan for your trip.

Some people use their travel journals as miniature inspiration boards for their journeys. They will include timelines, research, to-do lists and more. In my first Paris travel journal, I logged my most wanted sights to see when I landed on French soil. Being organized will help you, and your travel journal is a one-stop shop for all things trip-related. Plus, you can include photos of restaurants you want to eat at and beautiful scenery you want to take in while there. It’s a motivational tool to help you get through those last days of work before your trip!

You can hash out your feelings.

I’m going to be honest with this one. As much as I love to travel, I do get homesick. During my last trip overseas, I was recently engaged, and every time I looked at the beautiful diamond engagement ring on my hand, I missed my now-husband. Fortunately, I was on a trip with my mother and grandmother, so they understood, but what if you’re on a trip and can’t express your feelings? Write them down! Writing is one of the best forms of therapy. If you’re feeling homesick for ecstatic over seeing your favorite landmark for the first time, write down exactly how you’re feeling. It’s fun to look back at those memories.

Or be like me and bring parts of home to your Parisian apartment. Watch some favorite shows on Netflix or cook a recipe that reminds you of home.

You can add souvenirs to it and make it like a scrapbook.

Travel journal hoarders, unite! 

Travel journal hoarders, unite! 

If you’re anything like me, you collect anything and everything you can find on your trip. Why, yes, I will just put that paper napkin with the restaurant's logo in my purse. And brochures? I never really look at them unless I’m traveling or if I’ve created them for a client. (OK, OK. I look at them more than MOST people. It’s part of being a communicator and storyteller.) My most recent Paris and London travel journals are filled to the brim with what may seem like oddities to some:

  • Receipts

  • Makeup advertisements

  • A sparkling water label

  • A plastic bag that once had tomatoes in it

  • And the normal ticket stubs from attractions and museums, well-used Metro and tube maps

Keep what makes you happy and helps you to remember your day. Be a packrat like me or be a minimalist. At the end of the day or at any slow-paced period in your day, take a few minutes and jot down some key points, either in your journal or on a separate piece of paper. And, if you’re more of a digital person, type out your days in a blog, photo book or another format. (I love these methods, too, but for traveling journals, I’ll admit that I’m old-school.) Use your times in the airport to write about your journey as well.

You can do the method easiest for you in your travel journal.

If you’re not a writer, you don’t have to write thousands of words per day. You can also choose which details to include. Write about what matters to you and don’t try to mimic anyone else’s travel journal. This one is uniquely yours, as is the entire experience. As I mentioned before, use the method that works best for you as well. If you’d rather sit on the balcony of your hotel room near the ocean and type your thoughts, then do that. If you want to have a physical journal, that works well, too, especially if you love the physical act of writing. Be sure to get a journal and pen that suit your own tastes! Be as consistent as possible, but know it’s OK to sometimes give bullet points. When it comes to sleeping to prepare for your next day ahead or staying up all night writing, well… I’ve done both. But, sleep is the way to go!

And to curb my own wanderlust, here are some photos from some of my most favorite getaways! 

Copyright © MMXVIII Hourglass Omnimedia, LLC

Kaylin R. Staten is an award-winning public relations practitioner and writer. She owns Hourglass Omnimedia, a consulting company based in Huntington, WV. 

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