Traveling produces life-changing moments and lasting memories. Being in a new place can inspire fresh ideas, unlock our creativity, and open us up to try things we’ve never done before. Hold on to those moments and track your journey by utilizing a personalized travel journal. Below we’ve pulled together travel journal ideas that you can use for your next big adventure as well as our advice for choosing the right notebook and setting up your travel journal.
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Consider what size notebook you want to travel with before purchasing a travel journal. You’re going to be carrying it around with you throughout your trip, so be sure it’s not too big to keep nearby.
If you are tight on space, or luggage weight, choose a smaller notebook that doesn’t have a hard, heavy cover. If you want to ensure your notebook is with you at all times, you may want a pocket-sized notebook. Pocket notebooks are easy to carry anywhere you go—so you’ll never miss out on jotting down your thoughts about a new location or the next big idea you may have.
Consider the number of pages you need in your travel notebook ahead of time; you don’t want to run out of room in the middle of your adventure. For longer trips, opt for notebooks with a large number of pages. If you plan on doing a lot of daily journaling or if you know brevity is a challenge for you, ensure you have plenty of pages to work with.
If you’ve used a travel journal before, you can consult your previous notebooks to see how many pages you actually used compared to the length of your trip. It’s better to have a little extra space than not enough.
The type of notebook pages you choose comes down to personal preference. Some people prefer lined pages, some prefer pages that are completely blank, and others like dot grid layouts. If you’re unsure, consider what specifically you will use your notebooks for, whether that’s journaling, doodling, or sketching inspiring locations.
Lined pages are ideal for long-form journaling. If you know most of your journaling will be in the form of long descriptions, stories, or brainstorming, lined pages may be best for you.
Blank pages are best for creatives that want space and freedom within their journal. If you do a lot of sketching or if you don’t want to be restrained by a predetermined layout, choose a notebook with blank pages.
Dot grid notebooks give a little more freedom than traditional lined notebooks, while also providing some structure for setting up your journal. Dot grid notebooks are often called bullet journals. Choose a dot grid notebook if you want flexibility within your travel journal.
💡 Bullet journaling can help you replace arbitrary to-do lists with intentional prioritization. Learn more abouthow to set up and use a Bullet Journal.
The very first thing you should do is add your name and contact information to the front cover page of your travel journal. Here you can give instructions for how you want someone to contact you should you suffer the misfortune of losing your notebook. For international travel, including an email is helpful since online communication is usually cheaper than placing a phone call. Plus, if the person who found your notebook doesn’t speak the same language as you, you'll be able to translate the message.
Label the cover or the inside cover page with the date and the locations you are traveling to. This is for your own reference so that you can easily recognize which travel journal you used for each trip. Don’t forget to include the year. It may seem obvious now, but in 10 years, you’ll be happy to have the added distinction.
What do you want from the journey you’re about to embark on? Take a moment to think about your trip.
This section can be as simple or as detailed as you like. It could be as simple as a sentence or two about what you want from your trip, or it could include detailed reflection before you begin your journey.
Include a space in your travel journal for trip planning. You can use this section before you leave for to-do lists of final tasks. You can also create a travel packing list, so you don’t leave any important items behind. Divide your packing list into sections, such as the types of items you’re bringing (clothes, toiletries, etc.), or the bag they need to be packed in (suitcase, backpack, purse, etc.)
Leave a specific space in your journal for general reflection. What’s it like where you are in the world? Describe the nature, wildlife, buildings, smells, people, weather, food, culture, and anything else that comes to mind while traveling.
Make a list of all of the places you want to visit and the things you’d like to do. Start by researching each travel location for some must-see tourist ideas. If you know anyone who’s been there before, ask for their recommendations, and do some research into what the locals like to do. Add to this wish list when someone suggests a new spot to check out, and cross out or check off each activity once you’ve completed it.
Don’t worry about getting to everything. If you don’t have time to complete your full list, circle the ones you didn’t get to yet, so you can look back on your list next time you’re back in the same location. Prioritize one or two wish list items that are the most important to you. If you could only see or do one thing on your list, what would it be?
What restaurants do you want to visit? What local food do you want to try? What food do you hope to learn how to make? Create a food list for everything you’d like to try during your trip. Research what food is popular in the region you’re visiting and look for places to eat that aren’t just for tourists. Where do the locals eat? What foods do they cook? What do they buy from the grocery store?
If trying new foods is your jam, leave extra room for recipes, food descriptions, and any notes you may have related to the food you try.
Traveling can be such a blur. By the time you return home, it may be tough to remember what you did each day. To keep track of your adventures, section off a page for each day of your trip. On this page, you can describe what you did, where you went, the food you tried, and anything else interesting that happened on that day. Get a little creative with added doodles and drawings of things that happened. If you’re worried about space, you can section off multiple days on one page, or leave one line for each day where you can jot down the most exciting thing that happened.
You’re not going to love everything about each place you travel to, and that’s okay. Use your travel journal to reflect on both the good and the bad. A simple list of likes and dislikes will help you assess the location you’re visiting, and give you the opportunity to vent about what’s bothering you. You might like that the public transit system is easy to use, but dislike that you can’t drink the tap water. You might like that you can buy a bottle of wine for a couple of dollars, but dislike how windy it is.
Save a space at the back of your journal for a retrospective on your travel experience and your notebook setup. If you find you don’t like using lined pages, or you need more space, or you wish you’d set up another section in your journal, you can keep all of those notes in the back of your notebook. The next time you design a travel journal, you can consult your notes from the previous trip.
You can also use the section to make notes about your travel experience. Did you forget to pack something? Did you wish you packed an extra pair of socks for the plane? What would you do differently next time? Any time something comes to mind, you can add it to the back of your travel journal to help you prepare for your next adventure.
With dot grid journals, it’s a lot easier to get creative with the travel spreads you design. Use the bullets to help you create all sorts of helpful pages in your journal. Below we’ve outlined some popular dot journal ideasfor setting up your travel notebook.
Design a calendar across two pages of your travel journal. You can use it to keep track of how many days you have left and to plan what you will do each day. Seeing your whole trip within a calendar view gives you an at-a-glance look at what’s to come and what you’ve done so far.
Use the dot grid layout of your journal to plan out your journey on a rough map of the location or locations you’ll be visiting. This is the perfect spread for a road trip or a trip with multiple destinations. Your map doesn’t have to be perfectly accurate. Even the outline of the country with the cities you will visit marked off will give you a visual view of your trip and how far along you are on any given day.
The bullets in a dot grid journal are perfect for creating custom graphs. Compare your travel expenses to your budget with a spread for what you spend each day on food, activities, transportation, accommodation, or anything else.
You can dream about your next journey and begin to plan for it in your personal journal too. Here are some ideas for travel and adventure spreads that you can keep within your personal journal.
If you use a journal at work more often or don’t have a personal journal, you can still plan for upcoming travel. Use your journal to keep track of holidays, vacation days, and to plan for work trips.
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