A hand holding a golden pen points at a map filled with greenery. There's also a notebook and colored pencils on the table.

62 Best Travel Journal Ideas (And Inspiring Prompts)

Travel expands your world and leaves you inspired.

But these days travel is often a whirlwhind with packed itineraries and long “must-see” lists.

And when you return home, you often have photos that you hardly remember taking.

So how do you slow down and make travel more meaningful? And how do you make time to journal on a busy trip?

I’ve kept a travel journal for decades and it’s made my travels slower and more unforgettable.

And here’s my ultimate guide to start a travel journal. This guide includes everything to put in your journal – and the best prompts, travel journal ideas and tips.

It will inspire you to take a travel journal along on your next trip!

23 benefits of a travel journal:

A woman holding a big map to her face stands in front of the Sacre Coeur cathedral in Montmartre, Paris.

1. Increases your self-discovery

A travel journal leads to fresh insights and self-discovery. And it makes travel far more rewarding when you reflect back on what you’ve learned and how you reacted in different situations.

2. Prolongs your pre-trip excitement

Journaling before you leave home gets you excited and prolongs that sweet anticipation. Write about what you’re most looking forward to on your trip. Write about your expectations.

3. Helps you plan an itinerary

A travel journal is an amazing tool to help plan your ideal itinerary. Use your journal to research before the trip – whether that’s finding maps and itineraries or jotting down restaurants to try.

Read books set in your destination and write down your favorite quotes to break the ice if you’re new to travel journaling.

4. Increases your self-awareness

When you travel, you’re thrown outside your daily routine. Self-awareness is easier because you don’t have your everyday surroundings to send you into auto-pilot.

You’re thrown into new situations and meeting new people. Your senses are heightened.

When you journal about your experiences, you get to know yourself. And that leads to more self-awareness and wisdom.

5. Exposes your weaknesses

A colorful map of the world lays out on a table with colorful photos and images on top.

Travel journaling lets you see yourself at your worst. No trip is perfect and travel tests your patience and leaves you vulnerable.

When you learn what triggers your moods, you learn how to navigate your emotions.

6. Gives you a pastime

Travel journaling is a great pastime when you’re waiting at the airport or taking a long train ride. It fills up time you’d otherwise waste aimlessly scrolling your phone.

Pick up your travel journal and let your thoughts flow. A travel journal is also a great conversation starter and way to meet new people on the road.

7. Helps you remember specific places

A travel journal increases your mindfulness and helps you remember the moment like no photo could.

So grab a seat when you can – whether that’s a park bench, a cafe or your hotel bar after a day of sightseeing.

Sketch your surroundings and vividly describe the scene in front of you. Take in all the details, sights and sounds of the moment you’re in. And capture that in your journal with descriptive language or a quick sketch.

8. Gathers items and mementos

A travel journal is a great place to collect ticket stubs, bits of leaflets and flyers, or anything you pick up as a souvenir of your trip.

Glue and tape in small items into your travel journal. These small everyday items are a powerful way to keep your memories vivid and give you a sense of place.

Carry a glue stick in your bag and keep an eye on anything you could include in your journal.

9. Keeps you organized

Whether it’s the name of that cafe in Florence or the dates of a Brooklyn art exhibit, your travel journal is a place to jot down details when you’re planning your trip.

A travel journal helps you keep track of everything you want to remember.

Your journal can also be an invaluable workbook that helps you arrange your itinerary, keep track of your budget or reshuffle your plans.

10. Helps you remember details

A woman in a bright yellow winter jacket sits on a hillside in the sunshine with the peaks of snowy mountains in the background.

Your travel journal is your personal record of the stimuli that makes your trip memorable – whether that’s the sound of a big city at rush hour or the smell of cotton candy on the beach.

It’s these rich sensory experiences that photos can’t capture.

11. Records your accomplishments

Hurdles that seem impossible are often overcome during travel.

Overwhelming situations later turn into learning experiences.

Your travel journal is a record of all these experiences and a reassurance that – in travel, as in life – everything eventually works out.

12. Keeps you motivated

A travel journal motivates you to change your habits – and your life – after everything you’ve seen on the road.

Whether you return from California and want to get back into yoga, or come home from Taiwan and want to bring more green tea into your life, use your journal to stay inspired.

13. Slows you down

A travel journal forces you to slow down and make the most of your holiday.

When you leave your daily routine behind, it can be difficult to switch to vacation mode. Writing slowly (as opposed to typing) gives you that much-needed time to recharge and observe your thoughts.

14. Boost your mindfulness

A travel journal puts you right in the moment.

When you’re writing, you don’t think about the past or plan for the future. Instead, you’re focused on the present and everything you’re experiencing.

15. Boosts your creativity

A book laying open with a map of Australia and a bright blue ocean surrounding it.

A travel journal is a great tool to fuel and inspire your creativity. Include sketches, collages or descriptive writing in your journal to get your creativity flowing.

16. Creates a souvenir

Re-reading your travel journal makes you experience your trip all over again.

17. Makes a great travel guide

Your travel journal makes a great guide if you visit the same destination again or when friends ask for recommendations.

18. Makes you more eloquent

Writing, like any other skill, gets easier with practice.

A travel journal hones your storytelling skills and your powers of description.

19. Shares your experiences

Your travel journal makes a great chronicle to share with friends or pass down to your children.

20. Relieves stress

Science shows that pouring your stress out onto a page helps you process feelings and let go. A travel journal is a portable therapist on the road.

21. Stores important info

A woman's hand points to a location on a map spread out on a table. There's a coffee cup and another map laying alongside.

Your travel journal holds your itinerary, hotel info, flight info, departure/arrival times, tour company contact information, and more.

This info proves invaluable when your phone runs out of battery – or there’s no Wi-Fi.

Use your travel journal to keep visa requirements, basic language phrases, numbers and currency exchange rates in one convenient place.

22. Keeps your kids entertained

A travel journal keeps your children occupied during long trips. It also helps them reflect on their experiences and creates a souvenir they’ll treasure when they’re older.

23. Helps you network

A travel journal is a great conversation starter with people you meet on the road. It’s also a great place to jot down their contact info or email.

24. Helps you reflect

When you return from your trip, a travel journal keeps expanding your knowledge of the destination you’ve visited.

Reflect back on your trip: what did you learn, what went better than expected and what didn’t.

A travel journal makes your trip more meaningful and lets you experience slow travel even during a short getaway.

Here are 25 travel journal ideas:

My travel journal lays open on a table with a map of Cairo and my drawing of the river Nile.

  1. stickers
  2. plane, metro, train and bus tickets
  3. luggage tags
  4. wine and beer labels
  5. napkins
  6. receipts
  7. business cards
  8. food labels
  9. coasters
  10. tea bag wrappers
  11. cutouts from local newspapers
  12. candy wrappers
  13. sauce packets
  14. sand and earth rubbings
  15. foreign currency and coins
  16. perfume samples
  17. tags from clothes and souvenirs
  18. paper bags and wrappers
  19. paper menus
  20. dried flowers and leaves
  21. tickets for museums, galleries, theatres and attractions
  22. postcards
  23. matchbooks
  24. stamps
  25. tourist maps

7 travel journal tips for beginners

A brown leather notebook and a map lay on a dark wooden table.

1. Stay realistic

When you’re starting out, keep things simple.

If you scroll Pinterest and see picture-perfect journals packed with beautiful sketches, you’ll be too intimidated to start.

2. Make your travel journal personal

Buy a simple journal that you won’t mind “spoiling” with awkward doodles or sloppy handwriting.

Remember that it’s better to have an imperfect journal that’s yours than none at all.

3. Don’t mind your handwriting

If your writing feels awkward, remember that it’s still yours. You’ll find it invaluable to reread your journal years from now – and you won’t mind that it’s not perfect.

4. Keep it truthful

Keep your travel journal honest.

Be truthful with yourself and don’t be guided by what you think a travel journal should look like.

Let it be yours – and let it reflect the good, the bad and the ugly of your experiences.

5. Make it comfortable

A map and flower petals lay on the table with dim and rosy sunlight alongside a notebook filled with travel journal ideas.

Go for a spiral-bound notebook if you plan to glue and collect souvenirs into your journal. A spiral-bound notebook gives you more leeway to make collages because it expands more than a tightly-bound journal.

6, Make it art friendly

Pick a journal with thick paper if you plan to write in ink (which can easily bleed through thin paper) or if you want to sketch or do watercolors.

7. Make it portable

Pick a notebook that’s large enough to write and sketch in, but small and light enough to carry easily in your bag.

6 travel journal prompts

A pile of dozens of different maps lays all on top of each other in layers on a table.

Use journal prompts to get your writing flowing.

Here are 6 travel journal prompts to get inspired:

  1. What were your expectations for this trip? Is it living up to your hopes?
  2. What’s your itinerary, and what have you done spontaneously?
  3. Describe a person you’ve met – their character and personality, their mannerisms, their appearance and clothing.
  4. Write about a new food or restaurant you’ve tried.
  5. Describe the best and worst part of your day.
  6. Describe a place you’ve visited. What’s the history, the atmosphere and the smells and sounds of the place?

The benefits of writing by hand

A notebook filled with cursive writing lays open with a cup of coffee on top, surrounded by leaves, a dark green ribbon, a bowl with rocks and paper scraps.

Did you know that the mere act of writing by hand (vs. typing on a keyboard) has countless different benefits – from fighting stress to boosting your memory?

It’s all the more reason to start a travel journal and really unwind on your next vacation.

Read my guide to the Incredible Benefits of Writing by Hand (vs. Typing) to get inspired on your analog journey.

How to start a journal

A journal lays open with writing and sketches of birds, next to a white coffee cup.

If you haven’t written in awhile – or just need some fresh inspiration to start journaling, read my Powerful Journaling Tips For Beginners (And How To Start) to get your daily writing habit going.

More resources:

18 Incredible Benefits of Journaling 

13 Powerful Journaling Techniques (And How To Use Them) 

51 Inspiring Quotes About Journaling (To Get You Writing!)

Nature Journaling: An Essential Guide (+8 Tips To Start)

Journaling for Mental Health (And 30 Powerful Prompts)