Top Ten Tips for Taking a Travel Journal

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For many of my past trips, I have taken along a travel journal. But will I take one on this upcoming trip? Journals are heavy, and three months is a long time to keep consistent in writing. But my new travel journal will not leave my side as I trek across Europe! If you are planning a trip, I have some advice as to why you should include a journal.

1. My journals are the most meaningful mementos of any travel. They remind me of many emotions and experiences that I may have otherwise forgotten, whereas souvenirs often only remind me about my experience at the shop. Plus, since you bring your travel journal at the beginning of a trip, it’s the only souvenir that won’t add pack weight as you go!

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2. If you aren’t into writing, don’t assume journaling isn’t for you. Some journals come with unlined pages, perfect for those who prefer to doodle. You could also have others write your journal for you. Just ask those you meet on your trip if they would leave a note in your book so that you can remember them. My journal has a pocket in the back cover that I use to collect notes, tea and candy wrappers, ticket stubs, and other small mementos. Some travelers bring a glue stick along with them and use these sorts of items to create an on-the-go scrapbook in lieu of a journal.

3. Don’t feel pressured to write every day. On transport days, it’s hard to come up with an entire page of how interesting it is to sit on a bus. I’ve often combined two travel days into one journal entry (often a busy day where I didn’t have time to write followed by a boring day of just getting to the next place). I still include the slow days in my journal because they’re still part of my journey and usually something notable happens, but you can skip days like these entirely if you choose.

4. Decide if your journal pages will be shared, or if they are for your eyes only. I never really thought about this until last summer when I was speaking with a Japanese traveler who wanted to practice his English. When he asked to look at the journal on my lap, I hesitated, but figured that he wouldn’t be able to understand most of it, and I was never going to see him again anyway. Since then, I have shared a few entries on this site, but I think many entries only display their full meaning to the one who wrote it.

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5. Remember that there is no pressure to fill up every page of your travel journal. My most recently used journal is filled with trips from the past several years (2009-2014), and it still has some pages to go. I actually like the blank pages at the end. They’re inspiration for future trips. Or you can leave those last pages eternally blank and start a new journal every trip.OR, you can turn your travel journal into a daily journal and write about your adventures at home. It is your journal, so do with it whatever you want.

6. This may only be for people like me who can’t stand improper spelling, but when you look back on your entries, resist the urge to correct any errors. that journal entry was written in its time just the way it is, and trying to change that is like trying to change history. Leave it be! That being said, when you are writing in your journal, make an effort to use proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Your future self will thank you for it!

6. Use your journaling time to relax from your journey. I often incorporate journaling into my on-the-road bedtime routine. I’ve also journaled at a park or other place where I can write while lingering by a view. Having a journal is also a good way to look less creepy when people-watching. If someone looks your way, simply get really involved in your writing!

7. I try to bring along a medium-sized journal because it’s big enough to hold everything I want to write, but still light enough to carry around. I sometimes even carry it in my day pack when I go walking for the day. That way, it’s ready to go whenever or wherever I’m inspired to write.

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8. You can use your journaling time to also practice your faith. You could write a prayer journal if you desire. My last two journals have had scripture pre-printed on each page. Sometimes, when I get out my journal, I’ll also get out my Bible as well. Journaling tends to mentally and spiritually place me in a position where I am very open to prayer and meditation. Find out what works for you.

9. Back when I was in high school, for the few trips I journaled for, I just used a spiral notebook. I guess it served its purpose, and I still have those stored, but they’re definitely lacking something. I would say the same thing about computerized journals as well. Beautifully laid out pages make the writing experience more enjoyable. A ribbon bookmark helps you keep your place. And a hard cover makes a journal durable for any trek it comes across. I got all these features when my grandma gave me an Ellie Claire travel journal. I have used it over the past several years, but when I realized I was running out of pages for my upcoming trip, I went straight to Ellie Claire for another one! My new journal has an updated look, but still includes all my must-have features!

I still need a tip number ten! Do you keep a travel journal? What advice can you share?

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Thanks Ellie Claire for sponsoring my new travel journal! All opinions expressed are my own, and I was loving Ellie Claire long before they partnered with this website!

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