Are you traveling soon? Or maybe you know someone who’s heading off on a vacation, cruise, road trip, service trip or even study abroad? Don’t forget your travel journal!
I keep a journal every time I travel. I’ve done so since I was a teenager. I love keeping track of little notes, lists, and details about my trip, as well as my thoughts, impressions, and feelings about where I’m traveling, and what I’m doing, seeing, hearing, smelling, experiencing, and eating (of course). It’s those little details that spark so many memories when I read through my journal years (even decades) later!
Over the years I’ve used a lot of different kinds of journals…spiral notebooks, hard cover bound notebooks, soft cover notebooks, pocket journals, oversized journals, postcard journals, handmade journals, blank books, guided journals…and I’ve loved trying them all. But after years and years of travel journaling, I decided that I wanted:
- A lightweight journal that I could easily carry around with me all day while I’m out sightseeing
- A journal that’s visually appealing but not so pretty that I don’t want to write in it
- Space dedicated for packing lists, pre-trip to do lists, etc.
- Journaling prompts to spark my writing creativity BUT I only wanted them listed on one page rather than throughout the journal (I like to have the option to use a prompt or not)
- Blank pages for writing, sketching, and pasting in ephemera
- A re-entry section for when I return home (and am already thinking about and planing my next trip!)
I couldn’t find what I wanted, so I created it!
The I’m Thinking…Travel! JOURNAL is an 83-page guided travel journal inspires you to record *and* reflect on your trip from beginning to end, then turns into a treasured keepsake! It’s large enough to enjoy writing in it yet small enough to fit in your day bag. The journal includes:
- Prompts to inspire reflection and creativity before, during, and after travel
- Plenty of space for you to record the highlights and details of your amazing trip, whether 10 days or 5 weeks
- Weekly “travel snapshots” to quickly and creatively capture the most memorable elements of your travels
- Bonus resources
Not only was this journal a #1 New Release on Amazon, I’m also getting great feedback on it (read reviews here), which makes me so happy. 🙂 I hope you enjoy it, too!
Ok, let’s to how to create a travel journal kit. These tips apply whether you use my travel journal or something else. 🙂 In this article I share:
- Inspiration for creating a travel journal kit (I make one for every trip)
- Travel journaling tips
- Travel journaling prompts
How to Create a Travel Journal Kit
I bring a “journaling kit” for each trip I take, so thought I’d share how I create one. It’s so easy to do for yourself or others (what a great farewell gift for traveling friends)! There are 4 things I always include in my travel journaling kit:
#1: Choose the Best Travel Journal for Your Trip
First and foremost, you need a travel journal! Some things to think about when choosing your travel journal: size, weight, lined vs unlined vs grid paper, page thickness, bound vs spiral, blank vs guided. I might be a bit biased, since I created it , but the I’m Thinking…Travel! JOURNAL is the best travel journal out there. 🙂
#2: Choose Your Pens
Once you’ve chosen your travel journal, you need pens!
I like to bring a few different pens with me, usually 3-5, in various colors. I often bring a combination of these InkJoy Gel pens in various colors and a few Fineliner pens. You might also want to bring pencils for sketching (I can’t draw anything but stick figures so I leave them at home). Tip: make sure that the pens you bring are comfortable to write with and that you’re ok with losing them (I always lose some when I’m traveling)!
#3: Choose Your Embellishments
Ok, you don’t need embellishments but they sure do make journaling a lot more fun!
Things like…washi tape (I love washi tape! You, too? Check out this vintage travel washi, this Japanese travel tickets washi, and this travel journal/planner washi), stickers (like these vintage travel stickers) or cute paperclips (like these multicolored clips). I sometimes also bring a small pair of scissors or my travel watercolor set.
#4: Choose Your Carrying Case
I fell in love with pencil cases when I lived in Germany as a high school student. I’ve carried a pencil case full of pens ever since. In fact, I still use a metal gold pencil case I bought when I was in high school.
When I travel I usually switch to a larger pencil bag that holds all of the accessories I want to bring with me. I’m always on the lookout for travel pencil bags, here are a few of my favorites:
I’m really thinking about picking this one up for myself! I love the green color, the shape, and that it opens two ways.
I have a clear pencil bag like this one and I use it all the time when I travel. I like that it lays flat and that I can easily see the contents without opening the bag.
I love the minimalist look and size of this pencil bag.
This is another one I’m eyeing for myself. I love the bright color and the shape and size.
I like that this one is a bit bigger than the green one above. This photo doesn’t show it but there are two different compartments in this case so it’s easier to stay organized.
Travel Journaling Tips
- Buy your travel journal before you leave on your trip. That way you can make travel notes and lists, and record your pre-trip feelings and impressions (which are always interesting to look back and read after your trip). Plus, you’ll have something to do on your flight when you can’t sleep and are sick of bad movies.
- Pack your travel journal and a pen in an easy to access part of your carry on or day bag so you can easily journal when you get a few free minutes. Put your phone down and pull out your travel journal! Got 5 minutes? Jot down 3 things you can see from where you’re sitting. Got 10 minutes? Make a list of what you’ve done so far and what you plan to do the rest of the day. Who says you have to have lots of uninterrupted time to journal? Make use of the nooks and crannies of free time during your busy travel days!
- Tell your internal editor to back off. There are no journaling rules. Your journal is for you, so journal however you want! Write a little, write a lot, make lists, write poems, draw, write stream-of-consciousness…whatever you feel like doing is totally ok. The most important thing is that you keep journaling because a blank journal won’t help you reminisce about your trip years later.
- Details make the difference. When I look back at my travel journals, what’s most interesting (and sparks the most memories) are the details about what I packed, how much our lunch in Florence cost, how far we walked in Paris that one day, how I felt while watching the sun set over the Mediterranean with my husband, what I made for dinner in my AirBnB, etc. Your future self will love reading these details so don’t leave them out!
- Get creative! Use different pen colors. Doodle. Use fancy lettering. Use washi tape to tape in ticket stubs, chocolate wrappers, postcards, pressed flowers, and anything else you collect (if you don’t want to paste it into your journal, collect everything in an envelope or ziplock bag to keep with your journal). Pick up fun stickers, paperclips or more washi while you’re traveling. You could even get one of those little Instax instant cameras that prints out little photos and paste those into your journal as you travel!
Travel Journaling Prompts
Here are five prompts from the I’m Thinking…Travel! JOURNAL to get you started:
- Before you leave, write down your trip packing list.
Trust, me you’ll love seeing this years later when you re-discover your travel journal!
- While traveling, make a list of each day’s top 3 moments.
This is a great journaling habit to get into so you keep up your writing momentum, even on days you’re busy or too tired to write .
- Jot down a conversation you overhear.
You’ll never remember that hilarious/awkward/confusing exchange if you don’t!
- Write about what you’re learning about yourself through travel (or your travel partner!).
Reflective writing = personal growth!
- After your trip, reflect on your thoughts and feelings about “home.”
Use the “new eyes” you only have for a short time after being away to see your home from a different perspective.
Want more unique travel prompts? You’ll find them in the I’m Thinking…Travel! JOURNAL!
Happy travel journaling!