Travel journaling helps you slow down and makes your travels more meaningful. If you’ve ever wanted to start a travel journal, here are 21 powerful benefits.
Travel at its best is life-changing. It expands our world and teaches us tolerance. It brings us serenity and peace – and leaves us inspired.
As it shows us new words, it gives us valuable perspective on our own.
But these days, with the hurried pace of modern life and social media, travel is often a whirlwhind. More people travel now than ever before, and complex cultures are boiled down to tourist attractions. We feel there are “must-sees” to check off our bucket list and share on Facebook with expectant friends.
And we often return home exhausted. We have hundreds of photos on our smartphones that are soon forgotten as we plan for our next adventure.
But how can we slow down and make travel more meaningful? When the temptation is strong to pack everything in, can we stop to reflect and capture our experiences in a memorable way?
Why keep a travel journal
Travel journaling has long been a tool to record everyday events. But it also increases self-awareness, heightens understanding and makes travel more rewarding.
Have you ever wanted to start a travel journal? Here are 21 reasons you should pack one for your next trip.
1. Travel journaling increases your self-awareness and development.
When you travel, you’re thrown outside your daily routine. Self-awareness becomes easier because you don’t have your everyday surroundings to send you into auto-pilot. You’re confronted with new situations and you’re meeting new people. Your senses are heightened.
When you journal about your experiences, you get to know yourself and your values, which leads to wiser life choices. You also see yourself at your worst. No trip is ever perfect and travel can really test your patience and leave you vulnerable. When you learn what triggers your anger or sadness, you can learn how to best navigate these emotions.
Honesty is key here. If you don’t write truthfully, and if you sugar-coat events for some imagined reader, then self-improvement becomes more difficult.
2. It’s a great pastime.
Whether you’re waiting at an airport terminal or sipping espresso on a night train, travel journaling helps you pass time you’d otherwise spend bored or scrolling your phone.
3. It helps you remember particular places.
If you sketch or vividly describe your surroundings, then sit in one place and take in all the details of your surroundings. This increases mindfulness and helps you remember the moment like no photo ever can.
4. It’s a practical way to stay organized.
Whether it’s the name of a cafe in Florence or the dates of a Brooklyn art exhibit, a travel journal is a great place to jot down details you don’t want to forget in your planning. And it helps you keep track of things you want to remember.
Whether you want to keep track of your budget or itinerary, or re-plan when things change, a travel journal can be an invaluable workbook that helps make your journey smooth.
5. It helps you store memories and stories.
With a travel journal, you’ll be able to go back and read – or relive – your trip years later.
6. It helps you remember the details.
A travel journal can record and preserve all the stimuli that make a journey complete – whether that’s the sound of a city waking up in the morning or the smell of cotton candy on the beach. It’s these sensory experiences of hearing or smell that photos can’t capture.
7. It gives you a sense of accomplishment.
During travel, hurdles that seem impossible are overcome. New situations that first leave you overwhelmed turn into learning experiences. When you record such experiences in a journal, it reassures you that in travel – as in life – everything works out eventually.
8. It inspires and motivates you.
If you’ve ever returned from California and wanted to get back into yoga, or returned from Taiwan and wanted to bring more green tea into your life, journaling can help motivate you to improve your life.
9. It prolongs your pre-trip excitement.
Journaling before you even leave home gets you excited for the trip and prolongs that sweet anticipation.
10. It helps with your pre-trip research.
A travel journal helps you with research before the trip, whether that’s googling, finding maps and itineraries for your trip or jotting down restaurants to try. Read books set in your destination and note down favorite quotes to “break the ice” if you’re new to travel journaling.
11. It helps you slow down and reflect.
Sometimes when you leave behind your hurried routine, you feel just as rushed during your vacation. Switching into vacation mode isn’t always easy. A travel journal forces you to slow down and make the most of your time off.
12. It increases your mindfulness.
Writing in a travel journal puts you in the moment. You’re not just thinking about the past or planning for the future.
13. It boosts your creativity.
Especially if you include sketches, collages or descriptive writing in your journal.
14. It’s a great souvenir.
By re-reading your travel journal, you can experience your trip anew. You also have a great guide if you ever re-visit the same destination.
15. It makes you a better writer.
Writing and story telling, like any other skill, gets easier with practice. Keeping a travel journal hones your skills as a narrator and teaches you the power of description.
16. It helps you share your experiences with others.
A travel journal is a great chronicle to share with friends or pass down to your children.
17. It’s a great stress relief.
Science shows that writing about your feelings and pouring your stress out onto a page helps to process feelings and let go.
18. It stores important travel info.
A travel journal can hold your itinerary, hotel info, flight info, departure/arrival times, tour company contact information, and much more. This is invaluable for those unseen times when your phone dies or when there’s no Wi-Fi.
19. It’s a cultural guide.
It puts tips like visa requirements, the currency exchange rage, tips from blogs and basic phrases or numbers all in one convenient place.
20. It’s great for children.
Travel journaling can help keep kids occupied on long journeys. It also helps them to reflect on their experiences and have a souvenir they’ll treasure when they’re older.
21. It’s great for networking.
A travel journal can be a conversation starter – and a great place to jot down people’s Instagram handles or emails.
A travel journal can make any trip more meaningful and lets you experience slow travel even during a short getaway.
How can you get started with a travel journal, even if you don’t have much time or don’t feel your journal would be worth reading? Here are some tips.
Travel journal for beginners
When you’re starting out, keep things simple. If you scroll Pinterest and see flatlays of picture-perfect journals packed with wise quotes and beautiful sketches, you might feel too intimidated to even start.
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. And that even if your writing feels awkward, it’s still yours – and it will be valuable for you to re-read years later.
I’ve created a printable travel journal to get you started. It’s full of prompts and ideas to help you begin journaling. Get your copy when you sign up for my newsletter.
Travel journal ideas
If you don’t know where to start or what to write about, try googling some travel quotes and writing them down or use your journal for basic research about your destination. A journal is a record of experiences – not a perfect narrative waiting to be published.
How to write a travel journal that’s worth reading
Keep it honest. Be truthful with yourself and don’t sugar-coat or aim for what you think a travel journal should be like. Let it be yours – and let it reflect the good, the bad and the ugly of your travels.