The month of July marks the start of travel season. Maybe you’ve already taken the vacation of a lifetime this summer, maybe you’re studying abroad currently, or maybe you have some amazing trip planned for later this summer. I have been very fortunate to see some of the most beautiful places in the world at such a young age. There are picture albums from all of the incredible places we’ve been that capture the beauty that’s out there, but I’ve always longed for another way to remember vacations more vividly. I also have wanted to start journaling for an extremely long time. On one vacation, I decided to write journal entries after every day in order to remember my experiences more vividly.

Keeping a travel journal has been an extremely rewarding and cathartic experience for me, as I have now done it on multiple trips. Any time I have a trip planned, I am so excited for not only the memories I am about to make, but the pages that I will fill in my journal. My hope is that one day I’ll have filled multiple journals with my traveling experiences and I’ll be able to remember so much more than just the landmarks I’ve visited along the way.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when not only starting your own travel journal, but keeping up with it.

  1. Buy a journal

    I know this might seem like an obvious step, but I found that I was way more excited to start this journey when I had a brand new, fresh journal. Get one right before your travels so you don’t forget about it. It’s your journal, so make sure it fits your style!

  2. Write an entry before you get to your destination

    I always make sure to do this. I write down what I hope to get out of the trip, what I’m excited for, fears, and usually mention how I’m excited to try new food. It’s a lot of fun to see how you felt before the trip versus after.

  3. Write the date at the top of each entry

    This will help remind you of the specific time you traveled somewhere. If you have a travel journal filled up with multiple trips, it could span a few years.

  4. Write every day

    I’m not going to lie, there have been days where I have forgotten to write down what occurred that day. With my next entry, I write about the day prior before writing about what happened that day, causing the entries to be really long. This also means that these entries take much more time to write. 

  5. Write as much as you can

    In my entries, besides just including the sights of the day, I make sure to include the little moments as well. This means conversations I’ve had, funky pieces of architecture, little facts about the location I may have learned from a tour guide, emotions, anything I can remember gets written down. For example, when I was in Prague, my mom made me an iced coffee but accidentally put salt in it instead of sugar because she couldn’t read Czech. While this was such a minimal part of my trip, it was a really funny moment. While not I might not associate Prague with salty coffee, some day when I read my journal I will be reminded of that instance. When looking back on your travels, these little moments will bring back more memories and feelings than a picture ever could.

  6. Include details on food

    Food is such a great way to experience a new culture. You can capture details about food in words that a picture might not explain.

  7. Write an entry as you travel home

    As you make the journey back home, it is important to reflect on everything you have just experienced. Address the fears that you had coming into a trip, favorite moments and sites, and things you will miss. This is the last part of the trip where you’ll be in that “vacation bubble.” It is important to get all of your thoughts and feelings out before you return home.

  8. Remember this is your journal

    Whether you choose to share with others what you have written down or not, it is important to keep in mind that this journal belongs to you and only you. When I first started journaling, I was self conscious about what my siblings would think about my writing. I reminded myself that this was my journal for me to express my own thoughts and feelings, so it didn’t matter if my sister thought my words sounded funny or if my brother felt I said the word “beautiful” too much. This is something I do for myself and because I want to do it. You should too.

I haven’t been completely perfect with my travel journal, but it has come with me on every trip I have taken since starting it. Always finding the time in the day to decompress and process that day’s adventures is therapeutic and relaxing. In looking back on the things I have written from other trips, I have remembered so much more than what a photo album could spark in me. I highly encourage each and every one of you to try this out on your next trip.

Mackenzie S.
Mackenzie is a spunky conservative studying political science and journalism at the University of Delaware. She enjoys listening to music, reading, and playing a variety of sports in her free time. When she’s not busy making people laugh or singing loudly to classic Disney tunes, you can probably find her in her bed napping.

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