Whether you do a lot of traveling or just the occasional trip, keeping a travel journal can be a great way to document your adventures. Specifically, a travel journal is a document (usually bound with a cover and individual pages) where you can jot down memories of your travels; many travel journalists will turn these documents into scrapbooks of sorts, adding everything from photos, passport holders and airline ticket stubs to trip itineraries and everything in between.
The beauty of a travel journal is that it’s yours to do whatever you want with; there is no “right” or “wrong” way to keep a travel journal.
Thinking about purchasing a travel journal to begin archiving your adventures? Check out our list of top five travel journals, as well as some other considerations to keep in mind as you get started with travel journaling.
Best Travel Journals
- Handmade Vintage Bound Notebook
- Erin Condren Travel PetitePlanner
- Scribbles That Matter Dotted Notebook
- Leuchtturm 1917 Medium-Sized Notebook
- Newestor Traveler’s Leather Journal
Reviews of Best Travel Journals
Not sure where to begin on your quest for the best travel journal? Check out these top contenders:
1. Handmade Vintage Bound Notebook
This notebook makes for a great travel journal due to its durable buffalo leather construction and unique pen holder. It has a rustic look that gives it a weathered appearance that will only become more traveled as you explore the globe! Its 300 pages are unlined, so you have free rein to get as creative as you’d like with it.
2. Erin Condren Travel PetitePlanner
If you’re looking for a more compact travel journal with a little more structure, this Erin Condren petite travel planner is a perfect choice. It comes with helpful prompts to help document your travels in detail, as well as a sheet of stickers to spruce things up. It’s even small enough to fit in a purse or pocket, making it easy to take on-the-go.
3. Scribbles That Matter Dotted Notebook
This travel journal has it all; it comes with a convenient pen holder, bookmarks, and a card holder. It also has 201 numbered pages with a dotted grid instead of lines for a little more freedom. This journal also comes in eight fun colors to suit your personality.
4. Leuchtturm 1917 Medium-Sized Notebook
Those in the market for a slightly larger travel journal will want to consider this medium-sized notebook by Leuchtturm. This quality notebook features 249 numbered pages, including eight perforated pages that will come in handy if for removable trip itineraries. Travel journalists will also enjoy the thick, ink-proof paper and dotted pages, which add structure without compromising your creativity.
5. Newestor Traveler’s Leather Journal
If compact design and simplicity are what you’re looking for in a travel journal, check out the Newestor Traveler’s Leather Journal. This journal comes with 64 pages, but you can add more as desired. It also features a leather cover and non-bleed paper, along with a minimalist design that makes it easy to bring with you wherever you go.
Advantages Of Using A Travel Journal
There are so many benefits of using a travel journal, if you’re not doing so already.
It Becomes Its Own Souvenir
In many ways, keeping a travel journal means you’ll always bring back a truly one-of-a-kind souvenir no matter where you travel. Each page becomes its own mini-souvenir and will only become more precious to you as time wears on. Aside from the things you write in your travel journal, you can also paste ticket stubs, trip itineraries, and passport photos inside your journal to even more carefully document your travels. And when you look back on your travel journal entries down the road, it will be like re-living your adventures all over again. That’s a gift that even the best of store-bought souvenirs cannot afford you.
Keeps You Busy on the Plane
How many times have you found yourself waiting in the airport on a long layover home, wishing you had something to do? The same goes with those long flights home; you may spend a lot of the trip home just reflecting on your travels and thinking about what a great time you had.
Rather than keeping those thoughts to yourself, why not take the time to write them down in your travel journal? Not only will this help you document your experiences from your trip while they’re still fresh in your memory, but it will help to kill time at the airport or on the flight home.
Helps You Make Recommendations
If you do a fair amount of traveling, then you’re probably used to people asking you for recommendations as they plan their own trips and vacations. Sometimes, however, it can be difficult to remember the name of that amazing coffee shop in Paris or that bistro in Italy. By keeping a detailed travel journal, you can easily refer back to your entries for those trips and have your memory refreshed as to where you dined and what other places you visited.
From there, you’ll be able to make specific and tailored recommendations when friends and family ask you for advice on their upcoming trips.
Allows You to Keep an Itinerary
A lot of travel journalists will actually begin filling out their journal entries for a trip before they embark by writing down a detailed itinerary. Not only can this be fun to look back on as you recall the details of your trip down the road, but having an itinerary to refer to during your trip can come in handy. And since you’ll likely be traveling with your journal anyway, this means you’ll never be without your itinerary if you need it to look up a flight number, reservation date/time, or other important detail.
Avoid Etiquette Faux Pas
Another great way to use your travel journal in preparation for a trip is to dedicate a page to customs, traditions, and etiquette for your destination. This way, you’ll be less prone to committing any faux pas during your visit. Some details you might consider including are customary tip amounts, basic salutation in the country’s official language, and any gestures that may be considered offensive within the culture.
Potential Drawbacks Of Using A Travel Journal
While there aren’t a lot of inherent disadvantages of using a travel journal, there are a few potential drawbacks that you may want to consider—especially if you’re trying to decide between travel journaling and travel blogging.
Could Become Lost or Damaged
Perhaps the biggest possible con of using a travel journal is that it could become lost or damaged, especially when you consider how often you’ll be leaving the house with it! Losing your travel journal would mean not only losing all those memories you documented, but possibly even compromising some personal data if it ends up in the wrong hands.
If this is something you’re worried about, you might consider limiting the amount of personal information you include in your journal. On the front cover, you may also want to include a sticker that says something along the lines of, “if found, please contact [your first name] at [cell phone number or email address]. This will allow a good Samaritan who finds your journal to get in touch with you and obtain instructions on how to return it.
A travel journal could also become damaged in your pocket or in your luggage while you travel, which is why it’s important to purchase one that’s made out of durable materials.
Not Easily Digitized
Unlike a travel blog, a physical travel journal is also difficult to digitize for safe keeping or for sharing online. Some people may view this as an advantage, but if you ever wanted to share the information from your travel journal with the world, you would need to find a way to scan it and upload it online—which could be a pain and rather time consuming.
Ultimately, the decision of whether to start a travel journal or a travel blog will likely come down to whether you want to share the information online or not. If you want to publish details of your travels online, then a blog may make more sense. Of course, there’s no reason you have to choose one or the other; many travelers will keep both a blog and a journal.
Takes Up Additional Space
Another possible drawback to consider with a travel journal is the additional space it will take to pack one in your luggage. The good news is that most travel journals are relatively small and compact, so they shouldn’t take up too much space—but this is something to consider, especially if you like to travel light.
Considerations For Choosing A Travel Journal
If you’re sold on the idea of keeping a travel journal, you might now be wondering what to look for as you shop around for one. While there are many factors to keep in mind, there are a few top considerations that you won’t want to overlook. Going on a trip? Check out our considerations for choosing the best carry-on luggage.
Size and Portability
Start by thinking about the size of travel journal that will best suit your needs. For many, a smaller journal is more practical because it can easily be packed in a small bag or even fit in your pocket. Of course, this will also limit the amount of space you have on each page.
Speaking of pages, don’t forget to consider how many pages you’ll need. Travel journals can vary greatly from about 50 pages to several hundred. And of course, some journals allow you to insert your own pages, so you can add to it as needed.
Material and Durability
When choosing a travel journal, you’ll want to pick one that is plenty durable enough to stand up to the test of time (and all your traveling!). Many travel journals come with leather covers, which protect your pages from damage. However, you’ll want to consider not just the quality of the cover, but the pages and binding as well. The last thing you need is for a page to be accidentally torn out or for one of your pages to rip. Thick, quality pages will also help to prevent ink from bleeding through when you write.
Pockets and Other Features
Some travel journals also come with convenient features, such as pen holders and pockets for things like ticket stubs and other souvenirs from your trip. If this is something that’s important to you, then you’ll want to shop around to find a journal with the specific features you desire.
Appearance or Style
Overall appearance and style may also be important to you. Some travel journals come in your choice of many colors, so you can select your favorite color. Others may come with different patterns or sayings, so it’s up to you to decide what kind of appearance you’re going for (or if any of this is even important to you). Many travel journalists prefer a more minimalist look, though as you can see from our “top five” list, there are also rustic and vintage styles available.
When it comes to the inside of the journal, be sure to consider what type of style you’re looking for as well. Some travel journals are more structured and come with prompts that you can fill out for each trip, whereas others will have no prompts at all. Some journals will come with lined pages, dotted grid pages, or no lines/dots at all. Ultimately, the option that’s best for you will depend on how much freedom or structure you want while writing.
Value for the Money
The right travel journal should last you for a while, but of course this can vary depending on how many pages come in your journal and how often you travel. Still, when deciding on a travel journal, it’s a good idea to consider the overall value for your money. If the journal you’re considering has enough pages to suit your needs and is durable enough to withstand your unique brand of travel, then it’s probably a smart purchase. Specific pricing for travel journals can vary greatly, but you can generally find a decent one for about $20.
Keeping a travel journal can be a great way to chronicle your adventures and reflect on them down the road. When shopping for a travel journal, just be sure to choose one that’s portable enough for your needs and durable enough to stand up to the test of time. From there, you can choose a journal with confidence and begin travel journaling in preparation for your next trip!