21 Creative Travel Journal Ideas & Prompts for Your Next Trip

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Journaling is a great way to make the most of any trip. Here are some of our favourite creative travel journal ideas.

Travel Journal Ideas

Photos and videos aren’t the only ways to capture your travels. A travel diary can help you enjoy the trip you’re on and help you relive all those memories once you’re home. After all, how often do you look back through your phone’s photos?

I’ll be honest. Completing a travel bullet journal is something I often dream about more than I manage to complete, particularly when travelling with young children. But over the years, the travel journals I have managed to complete have brought me great joy and prompted my ageing brain to remember sights, smells and tastes more vividly than ever.

So, don’t get hung up on making it pretty and perfect. Just concentrate on enjoying your trip and use these travel journal ideas to deepen that enjoyment. Don’t let them turn into one more burden or chore to complete!

Vintage travel journal open on a table

What is a Travel Journal?

A travel journal is whatever you want it to be, baby! Or in more standard talk:

A travel journal is a personal, written account that documents an individual’s experiences, observations, and emotions during their journeys. It serves as a dedicated space for recording details such as daily activities, cultural encounters, and reflections on the places visited.

Typically, travel journals include a mix of narratives, anecdotes, and practical information. Whether handwritten or digital, a travel journal is a valuable tool for preserving travel memories, fostering self-reflection, and creating a tangible record of one’s explorations and discoveries around the world.

Although, don’t think you need to write reams. We’ve plenty of creative travel journal ideas if writing doesn’t happen to be your thing. We’re all about the easy way to fill those travel journal pages.

Leather-bound travel journal and pencil

Where to Find the Perfect Travel Journal

The romantic in me says that the best travel journal is found on the road. But the practical side of me knows that it’s easier if you pick one up before you go.

In my experience, you want a book that will stay flat when you fold it open and ideally have a tie or piece of elastic to hold it together again, to stop things falling out.

I also like travel journals with a space for a pen as that makes it more likely that you will actually have a pen with you when the time comes to write. In my experience, the best way to make sure that something happens is to remove as many obstacles as possible.

Personally, I prefer blank pages but I know that many prefer grids or lines. And I’ve never got to grips with a digital journal but if they work for you, then great!

A hard cover can protect from the bumps and bruises of life on the road but, then again, a soft cover is lighter to carry around.

Here are some lovely travel journal examples you can find on Amazon:

Note: if you buy through any of the links on this page, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Why Bother Keeping a Travel Journal in the First Place?

Firstly, because it’s fun! However, keeping a travel journal also has a number of other benefits.

Such as…

Memory Enhancement:

  • According to a study published in the journal Memory, the act of writing helps to consolidate and enhance memory. By documenting your experiences, in your own travel journal, you’re more likely to remember details of your journey. And that fits with what I learned when I was studying Neuroscience at Cambridge.

Stress Reduction:

  • A study by the American Psychological Association suggests that expressive writing can help reduce stress and promote overall well-being. Journaling about your travel experiences allows you to process emotions and relive positive moments.

Increased Cultural Awareness:

  • Research conducted by the Cultural Intelligence Center indicates that keeping a travel journal can contribute to the development of cultural intelligence. Writing about local customs, traditions, and interactions with residents fosters a deeper understanding of different cultures.

Reflection and Personal Growth:

  • Psychologist James W. Pennebaker’s research on expressive writing reveals that reflecting on experiences through writing can lead to personal growth and self-discovery. A travel journal provides a space for introspection and learning.

Enhanced Creativity:

  • Again, the busy American Psychological Association suggests that engaging in creative activities, such as writing, can boost cognitive function and creativity. Documenting your travels in a journal encourages creative expression.

Capturing Details:

  • Studies on eyewitness testimony indicate that people tend to forget details over time. Keeping a travel journal helps in preserving the specifics of your experiences, ensuring a more accurate recollection later on. Not that we hope you’ll end up in court. More, that we hope you’ll remember the highlights of your trip.

Improved Communication Skills:

  • Journaling encourages the practice of effective communication. Documenting your thoughts and experiences helps refine your ability to articulate ideas and stories.

Digital Detox and Mindfulness:

  • A study by the Pew Research Center found that 85% of adults in the United States use the internet. Keeping a physical travel journal offers a break from screens, fostering mindfulness and a deeper connection with your surroundings. Little details can bring about a big sense of calm.

Goal Setting and Achievement:

  • Again, the good old American Psychological Association notes that setting and achieving small goals, such as completing a journal entry each day, can boost motivation and self-esteem. A travel journal provides a structured way to set and accomplish writing goals.

Legacy and Sharing:

  • According to a study by Ancestry.com, 77% of adults believe it’s important to preserve their family history. A travel journal can serve as a legacy, allowing future generations to gain insights into your experiences and perspectives.

So, how about that? Not just a pretty page after all.

21 Gorgeous and Creative Travel Journal Ideas

OK, let’s get to the fun part! Creative travel journal ideas!

A collection of colourful ticket stubs

Collect Ticket Stubs

Ticket stubs may not seem so glamorous at the time but they’re one of those travel journal ideas that’s quick and easy to do, with great rewards later on. If you find yourself too busy on the trip, just shove (ahem, collect) them as you go along in one envelope. Once you’re home, you can then arrange them in a scrapbook or bullet journal along with notes and photos.

Carry Some Lightweight Supplies

It’s easier to keep up with your travel diary if you have the right tools with you. No-one needs to carry about an entire artist’s briefcase but a few pens, pencils and a roll or two of washi tape can help make it manageable.

Not sure what washi tape is? It’s like sellotape only comes with a pattern and is much more forgiving when unrolling and using it. You can pick up some washi tape here. It’s a great option to make sure things don’t always fall out along the way.

Brush up on Some Writing Tips

A travel diary shouldn’t feel like homework. But it will be more rewarding to write and definitely more pleasurable to read if you brush up on some writing techniques before you go.

We run a range of writing courses to get you started, including:

So, whether it’s a quick weekend away or a road trip journal that spans several months, you’ll feel more confident about what goes into your own travel log.

Budapest and London postcards on a travel journal
Postcards can make a wonderful addition to a journal

Pick up Some Postcards

This is one of my favourite creative travel journal ideas.

Now, we’re not talking about standard tourist postcards here (although, obviously, that’s fine if that’s what you want to do. It’s your travel diary, right?!)

We’re talking about flyers and postcards for art galleries, live music, exhibitions and special events. Business cards from cafes. Anything you saw and enjoyed and which gave you a taste of the place.

Notes from Dominican Republic, The Gambia and the US on top of a travel journal
Got some pennies left over at the end of your trip? Stick them in your journal!

Collect the Cash

Spend more than a few days in a destination and the local money soon becomes a background event that you stop noticing. But when you’re back home, it’s a connection to the place.

So, if you can spare some of the lower denomination notes, it’s a great idea to tape a few into your travel journal.

A selection of Isle of Wight maps on a table

Keep the Maps

You know those maps that are folded back and forth, torn, soggy and scribbled over? Keep them! It’s amazing how quickly you forget the detail of a place but a scribbled note and the white fluff along a folded map seam brings it back right away. New places, new maps.

Stacks of colourful cardboard drink coasters

Make the Food to Go

At the risk of sounding like a hoarder, look out for sweet wrapper, chopstick wrappers, beer labels and more that really fit the local food you had in a destination.

I always look out for local flavours in particular, so this method of scrapbooking (sounds better than hoarding) works well for me.

Flower Press Stress

Sometimes, pressing flowers or leaves works wonders. And, sometimes, it just makes a mess. This is one of those travel journal ideas that you need to do just right: ideally with a big patch of sellophane rather than just a strip of washi tape.

Be careful, though. Some countries, most notably New Zealand and Australia, are very strict about flowers and seeds crossing their borders. Probably best to avoid this if you plan on heading there.

Hand-drawn sketch of a city skyline

Sketch Skills

Small sketches and beautiful drawings can really bring a travel diary to life. If you can draw, that is.

If not, never fear. While we can’t all be the best at everything, we can all master a few basic techniques.

It’s a good idea to just relax and have a go.

Colourful post-it notes with different languages on

Learn the Lingo

As everyone knows, with a few local phrases, you’ll get a better reception wherever you go. Yet, with age, it’s alarming how quickly that knowledge fades.

Write down those phrases while they’re fresh! It’s a fun way to nurture those brain cells.

Stick in Those Lists

Have you used a packing list? A leaving the house checklist? A bucket list? To-do list? If so, stick them in! They’ll be surprisingly interesting to look at come the end of your trip. Don’t let your trip planning go to waste!

And if you don’t? Check out our collection of packing lists and pre-travel checklists here.

Use Some Travel Journal Writing Prompts

When inspiration fails, fall back on these. Don’t worry if you feel cheesy. No-one has to read this but you.

Travel Journal Prompts Before You Go

  1. Outline your expectations and goals for the upcoming journey. What do you hope to achieve or experience during this trip?
  2. Share your pre-trip excitement and any pre-travel rituals or preparations you engage in before embarking on a new adventure.
  3. Detail the research you’ve conducted about the destination, including its culture, history, and notable attractions. What aspects are you most eager to explore?
  4. Reflect on any pre-trip concerns or uncertainties. How do you plan to address them or prepare for potential challenges?
  5. Describe the anticipation you feel about trying the local cuisine. Are there specific dishes you’re looking forward to sampling?
  6. Outline your itinerary and the key activities you have planned for each day. What landmarks or attractions are a must-see for you?
  7. Consider the local customs and etiquette of the destination. How do you plan to respect and engage with the local culture?
  8. Share your thoughts on the packing process. What essentials are you making sure to bring, and what strategies are you using to pack efficiently?
  9. Reflect on any language barriers you might encounter. Have you learned a few basic phrases or expressions in the local language to enhance your experience?
  10. Write about your overall mindset and emotions as you approach the trip. What are your hopes, fears, and anticipations for the upcoming adventure?
Man writing in journal by a lake

Travel Journal Prompts For on the Road

1. Describe your initial impressions upon arriving at your destination.
2. What local cuisine or dish did you sample, and how would you rate your experience?
3. Reflect on a memorable encounter with a local resident or fellow traveller.
4. Share a moment when you stepped out of your comfort zone during your journey.
5. Detail the sights, sounds, and scents of a particular place that left a lasting impression on you.
6. Write about a unique cultural tradition or festival you experienced during your travels.
7. Describe a hidden gem or off-the-beaten-track location you discovered.
8. Share a humorous or unexpected anecdote from your trip.
9. Reflect on a challenging situation you encountered and how you overcame it.
10. Write about a place that surpassed your expectations and why.
11. Document a day spent exploring nature, whether it’s a hike, day at the beach, or wildlife encounter.
12. Discuss the impact of local art, music, or architecture on your overall experience.
13. Capture the essence of a local market or shopping district you visited.
14. Reflect on how the local history and heritage influenced your perception of the destination.
15. Write about a moment of tranquillity or relaxation during your journey.
16. Share your thoughts on the transportation methods you used and any interesting experiences.
17. Describe a sunrise or sunset that left you in awe.
18. Document a day focused on immersive cultural experiences, such as workshops or language classes.
19. Write about a place you’d love to revisit and explore further in the future.
20. Reflect on the personal growth or insights gained from your travel experiences.

Travel Journal Prompts for Once You Get Back

  1. Reflect on the overall experience of your journey. Did it meet, exceed, or differ from your initial expectations?
  2. Capture the emotions you feel upon returning home. What aspects of your routine are you excited to resume, and what do you miss from your travels?
  3. Share your favourite moments from the trip and how they contributed to your overall satisfaction.
  4. Write about any unexpected discoveries or surprises that occurred during your travels.
  5. Reflect on the impact of the journey on your perspective and personal growth. In what ways do you feel changed or enriched?
  6. Describe the local cuisine that left a lasting impression on you. Are there any dishes you wish you could recreate at home?
  7. Outline any challenges you faced during the trip and how you successfully navigated them.
  8. Consider how the cultural experiences have influenced your worldview. What lessons or insights will you carry forward from your travels?
  9. Share your thoughts on the souvenirs or mementoes you brought back. Do they hold special meaning or memories?
  10. Write about your plans for future travels. Are there destinations you’re now eager to explore based on this recent experience?

Enjoy it

We hope you’ve enjoyed this collection of creative ways to catalogue different places and, more importantly, what they meant to you.

For all we’ve talked about the benefits of travel journaling, the important thing is that it’s fun. Don’t let your travel journal become a chore. Like all goals and tools, it’s just a way to help you fall even more in love with life.

Journal entries should make you think or make you smile. And that’s enough.

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