People who know me in real life know when I write a post on Hippie in Heels about Europe it was years ago that I went. Because of that I try not to write about things that could change, and I kept it mostly to favorite beaches/what to do in a city.
Thankfully, I’m all caught up (give or take a few posts), and now I write about places I’ve been in India in the last year or what I’m doing right now like my trip to Singapore.
When writing about the past, it wouldn’t have been possible without my journal. I love that it sparks so many memories. I don’t keep a “diary” when I’m staying put- only while I’m on a backpacking trip. It’s more of a scrapbook than a journal.
If you are type A like me you’ll probably like this post. If you smash everything into a bag when you travel and don’t consider yourself an organized person… you will probably think I’m mental or OCD by the time you finish this post. Maybe I am.
For those of you who are not type A, I’m putting in clips from my own journals. Maybe that’ll keep your attention ;)
9 Reasons Why You’ll Love Keeping a Travel Journal
1. Photo memories. I (used to) pick up a post card everywhere I go and stick in on a page in the journal. It’s a great 25 cent souvenir and a fun addition to my journal! Don’t limit it to just photographs; I’ve even added dried flowers. Now that I’ve been staying put in India, I sort of gave that up.
2. Doodles. I love adding in a little drawing of something I loved in that place whether it be a mountain range or a little beach. These aren’t works of art, but instead it’s a fun time-killer on trains.
I never said my sketches were good. I kept record of my new sim card, the dorm I stayed at, a new friend info, & the news of the new president!
3. Personal Records. You’re not writing a book here. The grammar doesn’t have to be brilliant and you can spell anything wrong you want. These are your own personal thoughts. You actually learn quite a lot while you travel, not just about yourself, but also about the world. Having a record of your travels is going to come in handy when you’re senile and your grandkids want to know about your life or when you quit your job and start a travel blog…
4. Networking. At first I kept business cards a notes from fellow travellers just to add to the “scrapbook” look of my journal. I would keep the names so I could later add them on Facebook or e-mail them. Now, I don’t have a journal because I’m not traveling but when I do go away I keep business cards of hotels I stay at and restaurants or designers I like because I have a horrible memory. I plan on featured a number of Goa’s designers on my website- the business cards are stacking up. I also keep some train/bus ticket stubs, especially in India as it helps me write this blog!
Mark left a note with my hotel front desk while we were out in Mykonos
5. Defeat Boredom and Eating Alone. If you’ve run out of books to read or have a 17 hour train ride (like mine around India) it’s a great time to fiddle with your journal. You don’t even have to write real sentences. You can make lists of what your thinking or act like you’re 8 again and write all your best friends’ names.
Left: Indian Chai recipe from Elise and a list of Vipassana meditation classes. Right: my to do list: palm reading, massage, art class, lunch with beth, henna, yoga, dinner with Irish girl
6. Inspiration. I always hear new songs and quotes while I travel. Maybe a traveler tells you about a documentary that changed their life. I write it down in my journal so it’s all in one place. When I get done with my trip and am adding new facebook friends to share photos with, I can download a movie too!
7. See New Places Not on Your Guidebook. So many times travelers I meet tell me about a place they’ve just come from and a great hotel they stayed at or unbeatable curry they ate (okay, that hardly ever happened), but I jot that down in the back of my journal and would actually take their advice!
8. Ranting. Journals are a GREAT place to rant. Better there than in your new travel buddy’s ear. When I write down my problems it helps me distress. I like to keep lists for things I need to do in my journal like “buy bus ticket to Manali”. Things that seem very “duh” are easily forget while traveling.
My first MD appt. for dengue fever, a list of hotel choices, and the poor choice I actually made: Devi Niwas
9. Helping others. Your journal serves as a detailed itinerary, so when your friend you haven’t talked to in five years e-mails asking for advice on a place she knows you went, you can pull out your journal and actually help instead of saying, “it was sooo long ago, I don’t remember!”
Travel journal tips, even though no way is wrong
Take a cute journal, not just some left over spiral notebook from school. You’re going to look at it every day and maybe even years later! Pick one that gets you excited. Etsy.com has cute handmade ones, Moleskin, or even Target has a nice selection.
Don’t get one that’s too big! You can always buy another travel journal while you’re on the road. They get heavy. I try to pack very minimal, but a journal will almost always make the cut. Recently when traveling in Thailand I didn’t take one because I really didn’t think I’d have much to say- I was going to be spending a month on the beach!
Buy a journal that has a cover, but a floppy cover. Also get one that is lined. It’s not as fun to draw on, but unlined gets annoying!
If you want to keep business cards like me I take a little glue stick and slap in notes and numbers I get along the way.
a painted elephant glued in and my second (of four) MD appt. for dengue– this time to be treated with tylenol…
Take a pen that writes smoothly. I hate crappy pens. This 2 dollars at Wall-mart will make a huge difference in whether you want to write or not.
Keep paperwork that you think might not be important. It could be funny later. I have love notes sprayed with cologne, copies of a police statement in Barcelona, and a poem someone wrote to me.
Don’t write your journal as if someone is going to read it and decide if you’re gaining enough from your trip. If you want to write that you’re homesick or you hate the country you’re in… do it. If you want to say that you just learned something that probably every 6 year old on the planet already knew- admit it! It makes for a good read later.
My first two travel journals were more about boys than travels… which is why I went on a boy-strike in India (which consequently ended up with me getting an accidental boyfriend), but if your travels are about boys, don’t feel bad writing about it. You don’t have to write about the “life-changing sunsets” or history lesson you got if you don’t feel like it.
The journal is for YOU!
Did you enjoy this post? Let me know in the comments or by sharing it with the social media links! I’d love to keep giving you travel tricks & tips so feel free to subscribe by e-mail in the big purple box below. Don’t forget you can follow me on facebook, twitter, instagram & bloglovin‘.
Rachel Jones is an American who left a career in nursing to live on the beaches on Goa, India two years ago where she is now a Thai masseuse, candle-maker, and travel writer. Her award winning website gives advice on the other 28 countries she's been to but has become the go-to site on India travel, focusing on off beat places & “glamorous travel”. Hippie in Heels has been featured in ELLE magazine & was voted by Flipkey as one of the top 25 female bloggers to follow this year. You can follow her adventures on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google plus.
45 responses to “9 Reasons Why You’ll Love Keeping a Travel Journal”