Traveling can be a widely fulfilling and exciting experience. A travel journal is a fantastic way to remember the things you have done during your trip and write down the observations you have had during the trip. You don’t have to travel around the world and have exotic adventures to write an insightful travel journal. All you need is a basic journal notebook and a destination.
Here is why you need to get into writing a travel journal and how to ace it.
You Can Plan Your Trip Before You Arrive
Don’t wait until you’re at your destination.
Use your journal to plan your holiday before you even arrive. You can enhance your travel experience by using your journal to plan out some activities.
Research and note the names and menus of restaurants you want to attend, sightseeing tours that interest you, hiking spots or just photos to help inspire you.
Write down a checklist of places you want to see, your budget or your list of things to pack. It can be very overwhelming arriving in a new country so making these notes before arriving at your destination can be very helpful. Not only will you have more fun, but you’ll also take some of the stress out of finding things to do and start getting interesting travel journal ideas.
It can be interesting to write what you imagine it will be like and then compare it to the reality, once you arrive.
Don’t Just Describe
Avoid just listing descriptions of the activities.
“You want to create a captivating story that brings the journal to life, not a mundane list of things you’ve done. Also remember you don’t have to include everything, for example, if you eat the same cereal in the hotel as you do at home there is no need to note this experience,” says Joel Saunders, a travel writer at Boom Essays.
Pick out some interesting activities and experiences from each day and write about them. Write about how different your daily life is and how it compares to what you had imagined it would be.
Use dialogue, some of the best overseas stories come from overheard dialogues between tourists, locals or conversations you can be a part of. Write whatever catches your imagination, if it interests you it’s likely to interest your reader.
You’ll find that one of the best parts of traveling is encountering people who are very different from you. Take in the local culture; journal about things people say and do that are new and interesting to you.
Write Whilst It’s Fresh
It is easier to remember moments when they are fresh in your brain, try to write as much as you can whilst traveling. Writing at the moment will help you achieve the most accurate, vibrant and engaging content.
We understand you don’t want to get distracted from your travels by working, you don’t have to write down much, just keywords like smells, tastes, sounds, dialogue. Go back to the entry later and the content will be sure to trigger the emotions you felt.
Writing after the event has happened can often be a false memory seen through rose-tinted glasses, especially if you write about it once the trip is over and you’ve returned home. You might find that writing a brief journal entry every evening is a nice way to unwind and end your day.
Wondering what to include in a travel journal? Sometimes writing the most random emotions can work best:
- Did you learn something that day?
- Did something upset you?
- Was someone wearing something that stood out to you?
- What did you eat?
Don’t be afraid, to be honest, and include things that were strange or even unpleasant, these things are part of traveling and can be very interesting to read about.
Use Writing Tools
Writing tools can be a great way of getting the best of your travel writing, they can improve spelling and grammar as well as making the text more cohesive.
- State of Writing and Grammar Checker
The grammar guides cover everything you need to know about writing.
- Essayroo and Assignment Help
These online communities will help you find like-minded people to give advice and share tips with.
- Cite It In and Word Counter
These are great tools if you want a professional take on your journal. Use citation tools to reference other articles, travel books or websites.
- UKWritings and Academized
These are proofreading services that will help you polish your writing.
- My Writing Way and Via Writing
These tools will help you if you decide to choose the blogging route.
A journal is for text but pictures are still worth a thousand words.
Combining images of your travels with words can form a comprehensive narrative of your travels. Take images of places you are describing, of a new friend, even a selfie or two if that’s the impression you want to give of your travels.
Sometimes images can make the journal seem more human and personal, it can also bring back memories or inspire. If you forget or don’t have time to journal for a few days, you’ll be glad you took some pictures so that you can use them to help you remember and fill in the blanks.
If you are so inclined, add sketches or doodles, they don’t have to works of art but perhaps just mindless lines to pass the time on public transport.
Don’t Be Afraid to Write About the Bad
Even the best holiday will have ups or downs.
Don’t be afraid to write about what disappointed you. Since you wrote about your trip before you arrive, you should also write about it after you leave. The best travel journals are straightforward and raw.
Maybe you were looking forward to a meal and it wasn’t as high quality as you were expecting, maybe your hotel didn’t look like the website photo or, maybe the flight was hellish.
Often your bad experiences will be the most interesting and dramatic things to write in a journal. Great works have been written about awful trips. You might even want to book yourself into a cheap motel or visit a kitschy tourist spot just so you have a higher chance of a more authentic and interesting experience.
Write down what you would have changed about it, maybe you will return to that destination and want to remind future you to do something differently.
Write About Yourself
Think of yourself as the main character, or maybe even the hero, of your travels.
Take some time to record your trials and tribulations. Reflect on how the experience changed you or will change you in the future.
Did you learn something new about it yourself, like a new skill or the enjoyment of something you previously hadn’t enjoyed?
Write about the huge argument you and your friend had outside that restaurant that made you wait an hour for a table. Traveling can help people grow and evolve into better versions of themselves, it teaches you to appreciate people’s differences, to accept different cultures and to be more patient, amongst others.
Maybe you’ve seen a side of your personality that you don’t like such as anger, a prejudice, a judgmental side or a snobby side. Don’t be afraid to be honest about your reflection as this itself will help you grow. All the best stories, creative and unique travel journal ideas have the character go through an arc and change, for better or worse.
Will your travel journal have an arc?
You can write this during the trip, or after, depending on when you start seeing these differences.
It Doesn’t Have to Be On Paper
We all think of worldly travelers with their beaten up notebook but in this day and age, you have so many choices.
Many people vlog, videoing their travels and speaking directly to the camera. This can sometimes be less visceral than a written journal but it can be more accessible and easier to show others. The cons of vlogging are also the worry about carrying about camera equipment and having the right sound and lighting to capture that perfect moment.
Apps are a great aid to travel journals. There are purpose-built travel journal apps that allow you to take notes, upload images and video plus text and auto-link the website of the place or business you are mentioning. The best element of these apps is that they will auto-capture the time, location and weather of your location; allowing you to craft a thorough online travel journal.
But the main piece of advice is to enjoy yourself. Traveling is fun and your journal should be too.
Start writing in your travel journal scrapbook before you leave home. Don’t just list off things you did and places you visited, turn your trip into a story. Include details about how you felt and thought about the places you experienced. Record your thoughts while they are fresh in your mind and don’t be afraid to include the not-so-great parts. Use pictures to enhance your writing and to aid your memory. Be sure to use writing resources so your narrative flows well and doesn’t have errors in it. Write about what you want to talk about, show the images you want to show and summarize both the best and the worst of your time.
Do you have any further tips to add to this travel journal writing guide? Are you still wondering what to write in a journal? Would you like us to write a guide on how to create a travel blog? Let us know in the comments below!