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Since the age of 14 when I went on my first big trip without my parents (a week hiking in the Tauras Mountains of Turkey), I’ve kept a DIY travel journal or made a travel scrapbook for every trip. I have an India travel journal from a month’s hiking in the Himalayas aged 17, and travel scrapbooks from trips to Montreal, Australia, South America and a more polished travel photo book from a 3-month trip around the USA. That’s not to mention the travel diaries I’ve kept from these trips and others such as the Trans Siberian Railway trip last year.
I think it’s fair to say that when it comes to travel journals and travel scrap booking, I’ve got a lot of experience. I love looking through the travel photos in particular and remembering the experiences I had. The diaries are sometimes harder to read (can be a little embarrassing), but I love them too and remembering how I felt at the time; even when that means remembering the pain of hiking up a mountain with the soles of your feet as one big blister!
If you’re thinking of creating a DIY travel journal, want to jot down memories of your trip in a bullet journal, or are wondering what to do with all the photos on your computer, here’s how to do some travel journal DIY projects!
Types of travel journal
There are many different styles of bringing your travel journal to life and creating a personalised travel journal. I have a mixture of travel diaries, bullet journal entries with little sketches (not very good ones either!), travel scrapbooks and fancy travel photobooks. I find photobooks and scrap books are the best for sharing with others, and the diaries and journaling with travelling are best for your own amusement.
Travel notes: Just the facts
If you take a notebook with you while travelling, you could jot down ‘just the facts’. Where you went, what you did or eat, where you stayed and whether you liked it or not. You can leave it at that or, if you’re a travel blogger, this can act as a good prompt for writing fuller blog posts once you’re home.
This form of travel journaling works great in a DIY bullet journal and there are so many travel bullet journal layout ideas on Pinterest!
Travel diary and storytelling
I have so many notebooks full of stories and diary entries from various travels. It’s basically an expanded version of the above where you can go into more detail. Include stories calling on the 5-senses (taste, sight, sound, touch and smell) you experienced that day or amusing interactions you’ve had with people. Don’t be afraid of including the less glamourous side – they’re great to look back on with hindsight too!
This is the method of travel journalling that I use for shorter trips 0-2 weeks to create a DIY travel notebook.
If you’re artsy you could create a travel sketchbook. This could be added to a bullet journal that you already keep, or in a sketchbook per trip that you take. Perhaps you’re hiking on your travels and want to capture the beauty in front of you, maybe you’re in front of a famous attraction like the Golden Gate Bridge or it could be food that grabs your attention. Whatever it is, pack a smaller version of the medium you’d usually use and get creative!
Travel journal envelopes
Not exactly a travel journal on its own, but great for adding to one of the above forms. Adding an envelope to your travel journal, or getting one with this included already (this one has a storage pocket at the back!), means you can put ticket stubs, receipts, postcards and other souvenirs inside it as keepsakes. For some reason, I’ve always loved hanging on to flight ticket stubs and my scrapbooks are full of them along with tickets to various museums.
DIY Travel scrapbook
This is best done once you’ve returned from your trip as it takes quite a bit of time to put together. If I’m honest, I don’t usually get around to making a travel scrapbook until a few months after I’ve returned from a trip but I love making them! I use this method for trips that are longer than 2 weeks.
The way I do it is to hang on to receipts, ticket stubs and other bits and pieces from our travels. Then, I go through photos from our trip, apply a few edits and narrows them down to those that I want to print out. I like to use Photobox to print out my photos as the quality is great and they usually have some discounts available too. Then, once I’ve got the photos I take a big scrapbook, some glue and some pretty pens and start sticking, doodling and adding other annotations!
One of the best things about creating a travel journal scrapbook is that you can also make your own DIY journal cover by sticking maps, photos and ticket stubs on the front. You could also include polaroid pictures if you’ve got a polaroid camera like this.
Fancy travel photobook
One of my favourite (but more expensive) ways of keeping travel memories is to create a travel photobook. My favourite one if the photobook we made through MILK books. It’s absolutely beautiful and their website was easy to use with layout ideas and they check your photos are a high enough quality for printing. Ours comes in its own box to keep the book safe and I love remembering our three-month road trip through these photos.
The hardest part was choosing which photos to include!
Lots of other companies offer photo books too but the quality of the ones from MILK is amazing!
How to make a travel journal – what do you need to start a travel journal?
The supplies for travel journaling you require depend on the type of journal, or journals, you’re deciding to make. If you’re doing more of a journal or travel diary then you’ll only need a notebook or a pen. If you’re sketching you’ll probably want something else. Travel scrapbooking is something I recommend making after you’re back from your trip so while you’re travelling, all you’ll need is a camera!
What you should take to keep a travel journal on the road:
- A journal/notepad: There are so many different options out there nowadays. I usually just take whatever I have at home (since I’m usually given 1-2 of them each year). However, if you want a specific bullet journal then I recommend Leuchtturm notebooks (they come in so many colours!) and for the enveloping method, this journal has an envelope included. Moleskine travel journals are great for longevity but they’re a bit more expensive. The benefit of leather travel journals is that the cover will keep longer and not get messed up from cramming into backpacks!
- Camera: You can see our camera equipment here. A polaroid camera is fun for travel scrapbooking but not necessary.
How to keep a travel journal while travelling
You might be wondering where you’re supposed to find the time to keep a travel journal while you’re busy exploring. Don’t worry it’s actually a lot easier than you first think!
Usually, I end up writing in my journal at night. This might be while my travel partner is getting ready to go out for dinner, or right before I go to sleep. Sometimes it’s first thing in the morning for the previous day as I’m usually the first awake.
Other options include writing while you’re doing some long-distance travelling. I wrote a lot during our train journeys in Mongolia, and on the buses in South America. Sure, this means your writing is sometimes a bit funky as the bus goes around a corner or the plane hits turbulence but that adds character!
Sometimes I’ll even write up what I remember in the first few weeks of returning home!
DIY travel Journal ideas and prompts
Wondering how to format the pages in your travel journal? Luckily there’s no shortage of travel journals out there. Here are a few different forms and ideas for travel journal layouts when creating your DIY journal of your travels. Personally I like a combination when I’m scrapbooking or journaling!
Travel bucket list layout
You’ve heard of a summer bucket list and life bucket lists but what about a travel bucket list? This could be at the start of the year and a bucket list of places to visit, or perhaps it’s more specific to a journey you know you’re taking. I like putting together bucket lists for the things I simply can’t miss on my travels. You could have your very own travel research journal, or just add a page to your usual journal.
Bullet journal packing list
Put together a packing list to make sure you don’t forget any essentials! Do it a couple of weeks before your trip to build excitement and get prepared. Take a look at these travel journal examples below.
Map tracker for long term journals
You’ll probably have seen scratch maps in recent years that you can put on your wall. Create your own version for your travel journal by adding in a map tracker page. This is great if you keep a bullet journal or diary regularly and want to add in some travel goals!
This could be done as a world map, or as a country-specific map to plan where you’re going to go with a travel journal map page.
Attach polaroid photos to scrapbooks and journals
Adding polaroid photos looks super cute take a look at the below travel journal template ideas.
Draw your journal
If you’re artsy, draw some sketches in your travel journal for extra colour and flair. I’m not much of an artist but these DIY journal ideas give me some inspiration of things I could include.
Keep your travel itinerary in a journal
These travel itineraries help you plan your trip before you go. And, planning is a big part of the fun! Or you can use this kind of layout to write in what it is you got up to if you’re not much of a planner.
Hold on to those travel ticket stubs
This example of travel journal pages with ticket stubs is a great way to hang on to keepsakes from your trips. This idea helps create a scrapbook travel journal while you’re on the road.
Top Tips for Travel Journalling
- It’s not about it being perfect – bad handwriting and wonky photos add character!
- It doesn’t have to be top quality travel writing – write for yourself and the things you think are important. No one else has to read it!
- The best travel journal is the one you stick to – there’s no point just writing one day and forgetting about it!
- There are no rules when it comes to how to write a travel journal. Just write what comes to mind!