travel diary
Travel Travel Tips

Why You Should Keep a Travel Journal

travel diary

When we embark on a trip of a lifetime, I think we all have good intentions to keep some sort of travel diary. Many of us buy a beautiful notebook, keep up with it religiously for a few weeks (or days) and slowly become distracted trailing off to the odd scribble .. I know I have done this in the past.

With our smart phones now documenting a huge chunk of our trips through social media accounts, it’s tempting not to bother at all with a diary. Our TimeHop on Facebook will tell us what we were up this time last year right? Whilst this is true – if you can’t remember exactly where you were at a specific time, having a good scroll down on your Instagram gallery is usually enough to jog the memory but there is just something lacking. A diary can be anything you want not to be – it is YOUR creation and a unique keep sake.

Back in 2009, aged 18, I went away on my first 6 month backpacking adventure with a trusty Nokia 3310 (this was a retro phone even in those days) and fresh diary. My friend and I had vowed to each other we would document the entire trip and somehow, we stuck to our word. I poured every feeling and experience that I had into my precious notebook with absolutely no filter – as a result, it really helped shape my next world trip and is now one of my most prized souvenirs. For every trip I have kept this tradition up – here are my top 7 reasons why you should too.

Remembering what you did

This may seem incredibly obvious but it is surprisingly easy to forget the important details. Noting down where you stayed and where you ate may seem a bit tedious but if you ever plan a repeat trip or want to recommend things to friends, you’ll be pleased to have all the information at your fingertips.

Doodles and Sketches

Whether you’re into drawing wobbly stickmen or you simply love sketching a landscape – a travel diary is perfect for this. I got into the habit of drawing little cartoons of my boyfriend if he was in a bad mood – whilst at the time he probably wouldn’t have found it that funny, we found them hilarious after flicking back through weeks later.

travel diary

Scrapbook everything

From bank notes, to boarding passes, tour tickets to reciepts – you’re bound to collect a lot of stuff during your trip. Rather that throw it away or loose it to the smelly depths of your rucksack, why not stick it in a diary – it’ll help jog memories when you browse through later on. If you don’t feel like writing on some days, it’s not a big deal – sticking a boarding pass inside will indicate you hopped on a flight that day!

Boredom busted

Long plane journeys, night trains, boats, buses, coaches – there is no denying we spend an almighty number of hours on public transport whilst travelling. Honestly though (I can vouch for this) time flies when you’re scribbling away – it’s the perfect opportunity to keep it updated.

It’s an emotional release

Travelling can be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster – one day you’re on top of the world after smashing a skydive or reaching the peak of a mountain, the next you’ll trip over and smash your camera lens. It can be up and down to say the least. Keeping track of the shitty moments is just as important as writing about the good times. A good rant in your notebook will release stress and tension. Trust me.

travel diary

Learn more about yourself

It sounds a tad cliche but it’s true. If you’ve witnessed something that you don’t agree with – write it down. Have you behaved badly in an argument but can’t admit it? Tell your diary, you’ll learn more about yourself. Looking back a few years later and re-living some your feelings can be very insightful.

Writing lists and keeping track

Who doesn’t love a good list? If you’ve met somebody who has recommend a great band to listen to but your phone has died, pop it in your trusty diary.

If you’re travelling with friends or a partner, chances are you will loan each other a bit of money at some point – having an ‘admin’ section perhaps at the back of your notebook is a great way to keep track of who owes what so things don’t get messy.

What notebook?

The budget – this budget notebook is perfect for those wanting to save the pennies. Recycled paper with a retro feel.

The middle weight – a beautiful, A5 linen casebound notebook. A surf-green colour with the words ‘DREAM BIG’. Simple and effective.

The high end – well-bound with high quality thick paper, perfect for the serious journal maker.

travel diary


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  • Mitali
    October 11, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    I always tried keeping a journal but as you mentioned correctly I get away from it after some time… should try once again.. 🙂

  • jin
    October 11, 2017 at 4:27 pm

    I actually kinda do this already! Although not as detailed as yours, but I keep a small hand held notebook around to jot down ideas or sketch stuff whenever I feel like it. I used to do a good job at it, but this past year of traveling around the world for a year – I got lazy, lol.

  • Samantha
    October 11, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    I love this post. I always intend on keeping a travel journal but something always gets me distracted and i only manage to fill up 1/4 of a notebook… any tips on how to stick with it?

    • missionmagic
      October 12, 2017 at 8:15 am

      Thank you, glad you like the post! I think the best thing to do is try and set aside half an hour a day to catch up – whether it’s just before going to bed or whilst on a journey somewhere. I usually carry pritt-stick around in my bag so I can quickly glue in anything interesting.

  • Rowena
    October 11, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    Im trying to do this as well but cant religiously do it. I guess it’s because Im dependent to my camera and my phone but Im practicing to write on my notebook whenever I travel and I can.

  • Josy A
    October 11, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    I love this.

    I was similar back when I was 19, I wrote a diary and made scrap books all about my travels. I also used to write looong e-mails to my parents about what I was up to (I lived in Japan at the time.) My dad took all those e-mails and made them into a book for me several years later. It was one of the best possible gifts.

    These days I am more likely to blog about trips, or create photo books.

    • missionmagic
      October 12, 2017 at 8:12 am

      Thank you! Oh wow, that is such a lovely thing for your Dad to do – what a great idea for a gift!

  • Ada
    October 11, 2017 at 8:14 pm

    I remember I used to had a diary. It wasn’t really travel diary but my personal one and I love going back and read it from time to time. Now one of the reasons why I am having my travel blog is to remember everything in few years. Obviously its not too personal but at least I will only remember the good moments 🙂 Beautiful post!

  • Tavia
    October 12, 2017 at 2:34 am

    I have traveled to over 30 countries and I ALWAYS REGRET not keeping a real travel journal!! I need to get one for our next trip! This article has inspired me.

    • missionmagic
      October 12, 2017 at 8:07 am

      So glad to hear that, it’s totally worth it!

  • Kareemah Ashiru
    October 12, 2017 at 7:39 am

    I totally agree with you. I use my journal for everything you mentioned above. It sometimes serves as a good draft for a blog post haha. And I use it when solo traveling 🙂

  • Ketki
    October 12, 2017 at 10:26 am

    Thank you for making me realize i need to get back to my travel journal. As you rightly mentioned i enthusiastically made one but have trailed off from last 2-3 trips. I need to get back to pasting my boarding passes and museum entry tickets on its pages 🙂

  • Anjali Chawla
    October 13, 2017 at 9:35 am

    Loved your post! Beautifully expressed and I know your post is sure to inspire and convince people to keep a travel journal. I can very well relate to every point you made here. I love keeping a physical travel journal even in this digital era. More than anything it’s a memory that you can touch and feel. There’s something magical in hand written diary 🙂