A Quick Guide to Travel Journaling for the Modern Traveler

The stories from our travels are some of the biggest tales of our lives. Do you want to preserve those fond travel memories, have a medium to reflect upon your journeys, and share your amazing experiences with loved ones? You have probably answered yes to all those, and that’s why you have landed on our post. You are at the right place! Whether you are about to create your first ever travel journal or you want to take your existing travel diary to the next level, our quick guide will walk you through 4 simple questions. By coming up with answers for those questions, you will form an actionable plan on how to write a travel journal. As the maker of a modern travel journal app, we will also throw in a few extra tips for travel journaling in the modern age.

1. Who is your travel journal for?

Is it just for yourself? Or for sharing with others? This is an important first question to answer because it could ultimately impact the content of your journal, the style of your writing, and the place to keep your journal. While this is totally a personal choice, we have a slight bias that travel stories are meant for sharing. By encouraging more people to share their travel experiences, we can bring together a deeper appreciation for different people and places around the world. If privacy is a big concern, there is also good news. In today’s age of technology, it’s entirely possible to keep two versions of your travel journal, one with private information that is only visible to you and the other version to share the non-sensitive parts publicly. For example, the Hoptale app lets you easily set all photos with faces private while the scenery photos and trip itinerary are visible to others.

2. What to include in your travel journal?

A travel journal should be both visual and informative, plus a pinch of fun to read. We recommend at least including the following elements:

  • Trip information: dates, itinerary, highlights, and maybe even maps for the places visited
  • Trip photos: because a picture is worth a thousand words. The inclusion of photos provides visual clues for your trip, which paired with your writing, will make for a more comprehensive and compelling narrative. Plus, they make your travel journal more fun to look at!
  • Trip writing: this is where your words could shine. Remember you don’t need to write about every single thing you did on the trip – a chronological account of all your activities actually sounds boring to read. Pick the experiences that delighted / disappointed / surprised / enlightened you, and reflect upon what you thought, how you felt, and what you learnt. Travel journaling is not about logging the facts but telling a story of your wonderful journey.

3. When to write your travel journal?

We are not going to sugar coat this – travel journaling definitely requires work. But if you do it at the right time, the work could be minimized and the results could be immensely satisfying. Don’t procrastinate till 2 months after the trip to make your travel journal. By then, your memories are blurred and the details are faded. Try to do it within the first couple of weeks after your trip. Or what’s even better, do it little by little while you are still on the trip. If there’s not enough time for a full description, jot down a few key words that could refresh your memory and fill in the gaps later. Some of the writing could even start before a trip. For example, have your itinerary laid out before the trip so you can add quick notes under each activity during your trip.

4. Where to keep your travel journal?

For the modern traveler, it makes a lot of sense to create a digital travel journal online. The list of benefits for an online travel journal are endless, just to name a few here: 1) save paper and trees; 2) eliminates the inconvenience of printing out photos; 3) correcting any mistake in your travel journal is a breeze; 4) no physical space to occupy in your home; 5) sharing with friends is as easy as a click of a button.

There are a few options for you to create travel journals online. You should certainly look into travel blogging (check out Nora’s in-depth guide on starting a travel blog). But it might require more work than necessary if you don’t plan to be full-time travel blogger. The alternative is to use a travel journal app, which is designed to make travel journaling easy to start and keep. If you are looking for an easy-to-use app that seamlessly integrates photos, itinerary, map and journal to tell a visual story of your journey, check out our travel journal app. If you are looking to record your journey step by step on a cool 3-D map through automatic GPS tracking (great for avid hikers!), you can check out Polarsteps or Esplorio. If you are looking for an app to keep private diaries where you can freely document your reflections on your journey and add photos as well, you can check out Day One or Momento.

If you happen to be the nostalgic or old-school type, we haven’t forgotten you either. You can certainly opt to make a travel scrapbook in a paper format. The upside in that is you can throw in a few personal touches like color sketches, little mementos, and trip souvenirs. Check out these great examples of paper travel journals and you can also find tons of Youtube tutorials on travel scrapbooking!


Hope this guide was helpful! If you have any questions about travel journaling that we haven’t answered, please leave us a comment below. Have fun traveling and journaling :).


(Photo credit: Pineapple Supply Co. on Unsplash)

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