Travel Journal Ideas: How to Write Wanderlust-Worthy Trip Recaps

Keep your journeys alive by creating a home for the memories…

Confession: I have never kept a travel journal. Counterintuitive, I know, for someone who is now as we speak writing a post about creating just one. Instead I am the keeper of boxes and boxes of photos and mementos, a hard drive filled to the brim to pictures, and stores of keepsakes hidden away. My thoughts and memories during the journeys themselves catalogued away in the recesses of my brain. Looking back on the trips I’ve taken and the places I’ve been, I wish I had taken the time to put pen to paper, or pencil to sketch book to record my thoughts in real time. Slipped out from behind my lens to write a few words. Of course there will be more trips, more opportunities to make good on my resolution to document, and while they may not be committed to a book, the boxes of photos in my closet and folders on my desktop have their own way of evoking time and place. Still, I was curious how others recorded their adventures, and in that I discovered a true gem just a few desks away.

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FP Ashley is a well of knowledge when it comes to adventures, traveling, and keeping track of it all while on the road. After having heard hints that she might have a thing or two to say about journaling on the road, I was blown away by the gorgeous journal she produced, full of collage, the written word and sweet illustrations on her time spent abroad.

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From Ashley:

“I am a lifelong traveler. Every time I journey somewhere new, I return home in love with the world. My experiences abroad have been my greatest source of learning and personal development. Bringing these lessons home with me is a rewarding part of the experience. I choose to keep a travel log so that I can my record foreign activities as I go.
In an age of acceleration, nothing is so luxurious as slowing down and recording your travels in a journal. Time can become distorted when on the road and writing can help to ground your experiences to exact dates. It helps to stimulate your senses and forces the mind to focus on surrounding details. Capturing cultural lessons is unique to traveling and keeping a journal is a great way to document those special details: climate, accommodations, food, chance encounters, etc.

A few tips for journaling on the road:

  • Keep your plane, train and bus tickets! They make for excellent journal flair.
  • Collect found objects and imagery — flyers, matches and postcards — and use them to make creative collages.
  • Record details! Dates, weather, hotel room numbers…methods of transportation will come in handy for future trips and recommendations to fellow travelers.
  • Draw! Landscapes, indigenous plant/animal species, iconography and architecture.
  • Bring different color pens or pencils for journal artwork.
  • Stone rubbings are fun and make great entries.
  • Bring tape or a glue stick!

I’ve taken some incredible journeys to the far corners of the earth. But inevitably, these trips always come to an end. Keeping a journal has allowed me to turn these experiences into lasting insights. As I flip through the pages I am able to revisit each journey; going back to the trip in my mind, trying to understand it, finding a place for it in my thinking…that is what will last an entire lifetime.

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The pages of FP Alistair’s minimalist travel journal were just as lovely, with photos, Polaroids, and cut outs tucked between pages adorned with her looping script and hand calligraphy…

Travel Journals 2

Travel Journal 3

Travel Journal 1

After seeing the gorgeously bright and vibrant pages of Ashely’s and Alistair’s books, I’m inspired to begin keeping a more thoughtful account of my journeys both near and far. A travel journal doesn’t have to only be reserved for far off lands and exotic locales — your journey through the everyday is just as worthy to be recorded.

The next time you find yourself far from home, gather the details and write them down. Use that glue stick you stashed away to memorialize a train trip or plane ride, and use wrappers and paper cutouts to add color to the pages of your book. Years from now I doubt you’ll regret the time taken to capture life as it was, when you were on the road and experiencing an adventure unlike any other.

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+ Do you have tips for keeping a travel journal? Please share in the comments!

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  1. The many ways in which this is an inspiration for my travels is shocking-I’m so ready to go out into the world. Senior year summer coming up soon :D <3

  2. Great inspiration! I will definitely try to create something like this in my next journey! I always keep mementos but never organize them like that! Thank you so much!

  3. I just love reading about how other travelers, wanderers, and searching spirits document their journey and time here in this world. I love the minimalist idea, and haven’t really thought of doing a collage until now. I love carrying a small moleskin around with a nice pen, and collecting tidbits of tickets, maps, business cards, and especially coffee cup sleeves whilst i’m traveling, and i keep all of the little moments in a corner of my suitcase. then, while i’m sitting on a train or an airplane or even in the backseat of a car while i’m coming home, I love pulling out everything and glueing or taping them in, and reminiscing on all the memories with whomever is near to me

  4. I started journaling on my vacations a few years ago. I like to note hotel names, restaurant names, and the sightseeing spots of that day. In addition, I have journaled funny stories/memories and like to play a “remember the city,” game with my husband. So, I read the story and he has to remember when and where it happened. It’s fun! :)

  5. I’m pretty good at starting travel journals, but I don’t always finish them. At minimum, I like to write a high and a low for the day: the best thing and the “worst” thing about the day.

  6. Since my retirement my wife & I are traveling more and more. I am an amateur photographer which means I have a lot of photographs. I found I wasn’t doing a very good job of organizing my photos let alone keeping an accurate log of our journeys. Alternatively, I researched each and every trip in order to locate the best photo locations. It was that research that now allows me to go back and recreate a fairly decent travel log. Now, as we travel I notate my research notes each day of the trip. After the trip and at home it is easy to convert all of my trip material into a travel journal.

  7. When traveling, I like to find the post office to have the clerk stamp my journal with their post mark. On that page I draw a scene or landmark from that area, record the weather and add a little journaling.

  8. I have kept records all my life. My footprint. When the kids were little we had a scrapbook that they would draw the favorite moment of the day using nature’s leaves etc. They themselves can go camping now to the same places and find the same lot #! I have kept a journal at our cottage from the first day it was built. There is even a year 2000 time capsule hidden in the wall! I journal all my trips and when I am short on time I just make entries on the Notes page of my iPhone to use later. This is helpful on motorcycle trips! Why? My Dad use to sign my books and do things like pick up a piece of drift wood, put the date on it and hand it to me. His footprint.

  9. This is a great article! Another tip I have is to write down the little things. Like maybe something that made you laugh one day or something that inspired you. By doing this you will retain the little memories, and when you go back in a few weeks, months, or years and read it, all of the feelings you had in those moments will come rushing back to you. It is a wonderful feeling.

  10. The journal pictures look amazing!
    I always carry a Moleskine with me while travelling, but most pages are filled with words than pictures and things. I always save tickets and all sorts of things from my travels, yet I rarely put them in the notebook. One of the reasons why is because I want to eventually make a journal with all my trips together and fill it up with all this memorabilia and words. But I haven’t sat down and started yet because I haven’t found the right notebook yet. Silly eh?

    If you don’t keep a journal, you should definitely start! its great to come back and read the pages of my old trips, it always leaves me with a hint of nostalgia.

  11. My travels are usually many years apart. I’d always taken my own photos, and have them in albums, no notations, but didn’t journal. I remember most things from the early trips, but not all. I’d long had an idea for a trip to Tennessee, Memphis & Nashville. Finally a few years ago I did it. What a great time! In addition to my photos, this time I decided to write about my trip as it happened, with my expenses, and companies I dealt with (very handy when I rented a car). I’m also a collector of matchbooks, ticket stubs, receipts, bar coasters etc. which fills out my experience. When I returned home I made my individual TN photo album–the slip in sleeves type, including behind the photo, the ticket stub or flyer folded. My journal is a separate notebook with pocket features. I’ve browsed both a few times since returning and it helped when I talked online about places visited. I know I will always journal now as I travel. Believe me, as life moves along you’ll be glad you did.

  12. I’d like to add that I plan at some future time I’ll go back to my old trip photos, re-album them individually with some notations on the back as it’s to late for their journals.

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