I have a number of journals: one specifically for quotes, one for general thoughts, one for stories, and one for travel. I find that having multiple journals works for me as a way of staying organized.
It had never occurred to me to keep a travel journal until I saw the ones my sister in law keeps. She explained that she buys her “next” travel journal at her last location.
I loved the idea of keeping a record of my trips, but it’s taken me some time to refine what works for me.
Size: You want something big enough that you’re comfortable writing in and large enough that you can stick in tickets, business cards, random bits of paper, but small enough to carry with you.
Paper type: Something thick enough to hold all that ephemera. And if you’re like me, you don’t want the ink to bleed through.
I like 5×8.5 inch Molskine, but there are many other good journals out there. I use one journal until it’s filled, while my sister-in-law uses one per trip. It’s all about what works for you.
My bag of supplies for travel journaling has grown over time. Here’s what I like to keep with me:
Pens: I’m fond of writing in different colored inks, and I prefer high-quality gel pens. My current favorite is the PaperMate Ink Joy Gel. Believe me when I say that I’ve tried a ton of different pens. I also like writing with a fountain pen, but those can be a pain to carry on trips.
Glue stick & washi tape: These are great for attaching things inside the journal. I used to just leave them loose and attach them when I got home, but it’s so much easier to do right away. For one thing, it reduces the chance that you’ll lose something. Just remember that a glue stick can’t go in your carry-on bag.
Scissors: Sometimes I want to cut things out of flyers. On cruise ships, they give daily bulletins, and there’s some things that are fun to cut out, like the daily weather and port. Whenever I try tearing things out, I inevitably rip them. Scissors are my friend. But they also can’t go in the carry-on.
LifePrint: Last Christmas, my husband bought me a LifePrint, and it is one of the best presents I’ve ever gotten. I can print pictures directly from my phone, and it’s tiny, so it travels easily. I always see advice to draw and sketch in travel journals, and while I admire people who can do that, I have to Google “how to draw _____” whenever I want to draw a basic shape. I swear, I’ll take a drawing class one day. For now, there’s LifePrint.
What to Record
First, decide who the travel journal is for. Do you intend to share it with others? Or is it just for you? It may make a difference on what you write down. At first I had the idea that I might share, but as time went on, I realized that it was more fun for me to write down more personal observations rather than to go back and forth between my travel journal and my personal journal.
I also like recording my hotel, airline, and travel information on the first page of that trip. I have a handy place to gather all my necessary information, but it’s also nice to be able to look back and remember if I liked that hotel, cruise ship, etc.
You can record literally anything in a travel journal. The point is to have a fun and memorable trip. I tend to record observations about people and philosophical concepts, as well as what I did and ate on a given day. My sister-in-law tends to record a lot more about the history of places. It all depends on what you personally want to remember.
I’ve also gotten less fussy about keeping it as a “pure” record. I’ll put anything in my journal, even if I just need to use it for scrap paper. Some of those jottings can be fun to see in the future.
The most important thing is to regard it as a fun and to use your imagination. My journals have more stuff interspersed with the writing as time goes on.
In addition to gathering supplies, it can also be fun to get maps or other printed materials. Stickers are always fun, and since scrapbooking has become so popular, there are tons available everywhere.