If you love to keep your travel memories alive, then creating a travel journal is a great way to recall everything you’ve experienced. That same travel journal can also help you plan your trip. You can capture all the decisions you make in the planning stages.
If you’re not entirely sure what your travel journal might contain, then don’t worry, I have you covered. I’ve been keeping travel journals for decades now, and they’re some of my most cherished possessions. In fact, alongside my childhood bear – now 55 and still pretty perky – they’re the first things I’d grab from the house in a crisis.
These prompts will give you a starting point for your travel journal. But don’t forget that they’re just that: prompts. Keep what is useful, memorable and helpful for you.
Travel Journal Prompts: Trip Planning
My first set of prompts focuses on getting ready for your trip. Covering everything from your transport research to what you plan to do at your destination, these are the prompts designed to get you full of anticipation.
Trip Planning Overview
- Have you got a calendar or a countdown until you leave?
- What’s your trip budget? How is it broken down?
- Are you trying to save up for your spending money? Add this to your journal and record the milestones along the way.
- What are you looking forward to most, and why? Anything you’re less excited to experience?
- What do you want to see? What’s the top priority? What would you like to do if you can?
- What experiences do you want to have? Are there specific days you need to see a particular place? Do you need anything to do so, like water shoes, your own dive mask or something to cover up?
- What do you want to eat and drink? Are there local cuisines or restaurants that inspire you? Recommendations you want to try?
- Bring out your lists here: attractions, bars, restaurants. Why did they make the list?
- Bring out your pictures. Whether they’re printouts or beautiful shots that you’ve harvested from spare guidebooks, visuals can be a brilliant way to get you full of anticipation.
Planes, Trains & Automobiles
- Airline, flight times, baggage allowance – tell your travel journal what’s happening.
- Transfer arrangements – how are you getting to your accommodation?
- Car hire – which company are you using and where do you pick up?
- Day trip plans by road, rail or boat – once you get there, what are your side trips?
- Where have you booked and why?
- Any pictures? How to get there? Where to get keys?
- Who are your hosts?
- Is there anything you’re going to need there?
Travel Journal Packing List
I always write my packing list in my journal. Not only does it mean I don’t lose it, but it’s useful to look back on if I’m heading to a similar destination again. If you have packing problems, whether you’re an overpacker or someone keen to leave behind the essentials, it’s also a great aide-memoire to be your better packing self.
Journal Prompts for Packing
- What sort of weather are you expecting? What’s the normal climate?
- Are you doing anything for which you need specific gear?
- What are the constraints on your luggage? Flight limits? Needing to carry bags every other day as you’re traveling around by train? Cobbled streets at your destination?
- What’s your style? Am you dressing to be noticed, or to blend in? Do you need to buy anything before you go?
- Find a packing list format you like – maybe try Pinterest for inspiration – and get that set up in your journal.
Journal Prompts when you’re on your trip
My best advice to you about journaling on the go is to be flexible around your arrangements. If you are someone who plans to make their journal very arty, don’t forget that this could be time-consuming. That’s great if you always have an early hour to yourself as your partner is a bigger sleeper. Or if you enjoy sitting with a drink after dinner and winding down while scribbling. Failing that, leave yourself space in the pages to be arty later, and just focus on getting down your impressions each day. They’re always more powerful recorded at the time.
Daily Travel Journal Prompts for Your Trip
- What did you do today?
- Why did you decide to do that?
- How did it make you feel?
- What’s your big memory of the day?
- What were the things you experienced through your senses – tastes, smells, feels, sights, sounds? The crunch underfoot in the woods, seaweed at the shore, candyfloss at the fair.
- Who did you meet? Animals count!
- What are you spending? What’s been good value or surprisingly expensive?
From your travels each day, don’t forget to collect anything you might like to add to your travel journal. These things don’t have to be meaningful to anyone but you. You might include:
- Tickets for buses, trams, trains, boats or attractions. Were they cheap or overpriced? What did you think of the journey? What did you do there?
- Maps from the tourist office or the hotel. You can show your journal where you went. Or did you get hopelessly lost, and that’s another travelers’ tale?
- Cards from restaurants, or even menus if they’re happy to give you a copy. What went on around you while you ate? Favourite dish? Would you eat it again? Have you got a recipe to cook it at home?
- The wrapping from something you brought. Is it typical of the area or a necessity? What was different or unusual about it? Or were you surprised that it’s just like home?
Travel Journal Prompts: The Big Picture
While you’re recording all that’s happening each day, it’s useful to step back if you can and have a look at the bigger picture. Ask yourself in your journal:
- Is this everything I hoped it would be?
- What is surprising me and why?
- What’s turning out better than I expected?
- What is a shock or disappointing and why?
- When I walk away from here, what am I going to remember most?
- What would I tell someone else interested in visiting here?
- Would I come back, and why?
Travel Journal Prompts: Reflection
Once you are home, the washing is doing its thing, and your list of urgent stuff to do has diminished, it’s time to add a little postscript to your travel journal. Now that I’m home:
- Are my big memories still the same?
- What were my best times? And the worst?
- What did I absolutely love about the trip?
- My impressions of the place in ten words or less – focuses the mind wonderfully!
- What did I learn about myself from the time on the road?
More Travel Memory Keeping
If you’re interested in keeping a travel journal, I’ve got a guide to starting your travel journal here, and also some inspirations for your journal. I’ve also got a Travel Journal board over on Pinterest, where you can see plenty of examples of other people’s journals.
If you liked this, why not pin it for later.