1. Buy a book and create a unique cover
A journal for your adventures.
Even if you like to take notes on your laptop, using pen and paper while on the road will give you a unique experience. Since the beginnings of travel journalism, travelers document their adventures on handwritten pages. Be one of them.
Get yourself a nice book with a preferably colorful binding. The first page should include your name, the year of travel and the places you refer to in the journal. Be creative and personalize your first page. Spice it up with some sketches and little drawings.
2. Carry your book always with you
And when I say always, I mean ALWAYS.
The best is to carry it in your daily bag so you have it always at hand when a thought comes up.
3. Keep every scrap that reminds you of your travel
Post cards, plane/bus/train tickets, entrance cards, stickers, brochures, maps, flyers, newspaper/magazine cutouts, drawings, photos… Collect them all!
It’s more memorable if you see the entrance ticket of the castle or park you visited than to read the text referring to it. As humans are visual creatures, a picture can tell more than words can ever do.
4. Use different pens/colors and don’t forget tape
Pimp up your journal by using bright colors and pens for titles, keywords, remarks and quotes.
The more colorful the better. Draw and sketch. Even if you’re not good at it. Everybody can doodle a sun, flowers, hearts or stick-men. Also, always have some tape with you to glue to the scraps into your book.
5. Write everywhere except at home
As you always have your journal with you, take a rest while you’re exploring the environment around you.
This is certainly one of the most important advice when it comes to writing a travel journal. Only write at home or in the hostel if you were really not able to finish the entry on the way.
6. Give every entry a date and a title
In order to record each entry individually, always make sure to give it a date.
Give every entry a date and specific title. Choose a short sentence that describes the day you write about, for instance ‘Exploring Berlin in autumn’.
7. Don’t write down what you did without mentioning how you felt while doing it
By writing down what you did without referring to the feelings that came up while doing it, it is like walking in a new place without seeing what is around you.
Therefore, don’t be a blind writer and express your feelings in each sentence.
8. Describe remarkable scenes by using all senses
How did the flowers smell? How did the wine taste? What was the sound of the music like?
A good writing technique is to use your senses to describe a situation or feeling. When you reread what you saw/heard/smelled/tasted/felt while you traveled, the memory becomes alive.
9. Mention only things that provoke a certain feeling and describe this feeling in detail
Sometimes a few sentences about a certain feeling can weigh more than 10 pages of describing itineraries.
When we see or experience something, it is the feeling we had which we will keep us remembering. Written words without provoking a special feeling will be easily forgotten. A very detailed depiction of a feeling, however, is a lifetime memory.
10. Write about encounters and mention the names of the people you met
On the one hand we travel to see fascinating places, on the other hand, to meet the people inhabiting those places.
Special encounters is what a traveler constantly chases after.
Remember the names of the people you met. Sometimes it’s not enough to remember a certain person by just rereading its name in your journal. Therefore, include some features that characterize the person best, e.g. remarkable details like ‘the guy with the long beard, funny hat, fancy hairstyle’… whatever reminds you of the person you met.
11. Capture inspiring quotes of people you met
Don’t rewrite funny dialogues or remarkable statements from conversations you had.
Rather put them literally between quotation marks. You’ll feel reminded better of a person who said something meaningful and taught you a lesson.
12. Note down information from your research
If you did some research about itineraries, things to do, transport, accommodation, events or special things to consider note them down in your journal.
For this purpose, create a separate page where you add all the information not dealing specifically with the journal entry itself but which you find useful to remember.
13. Write down all the names of places you refer to
Collect them all: names of cities, villages, lakes, streets, squares, fountains, viewpoints, buildings, stores, restaurants and hostels.
Imagine some time passed since you traveled and you want to look up a special place mentioned in your journal because you would like to go there again. It will be difficult to find this place again if you haven’t written down the full name.
14. Write passionate as if every word counts
Would you read a boring book?
Think about that while you recap the day in your travel journal. Keep in mind that you’re gonna reread some passages one day. It would be disappointing if you can’t catch the special atmosphere you felt when you wrote the entry.
15. Be enthusiastic when you write
By writing with a passionate attitude, also keep up the enthusiasm that you had while traveling a particular place.
Avoid writing when you’re in a bad mood or feel bored about writing. Only write if you really enjoy it because this assures that you keep up the enthusiasm in your writing.
16. Write and move, move and write
Write everywhere except at home.
Keep the following in mind: don’t solely write if you take a rest, but write when you move. Stop once in a while on your way and write down all the thoughts that came to your mind.
17. Write in different locations during different times of the day
Write in the mountains, at the beach, in the park, at the train station.
Write in the morning, in the afternoon or at 2 AM in the morning. Write wherever you might be at different times of the day.
18. Write down what comes to your mind without following a chronological order
There is no compulsion to write day by day.
The most important thing is to write whenever a thought pops up in your mind. It doesn’t matter if you don’t keep up a chronological order.
19. Write what you actually do in the moment you write
I am writing this while I sit on a rock nearby the rough ocean. Some water drops are touching my bare feet.
In this sentence you get what I mean with writing down what you actually see or feel in the moment you write. When you reread this, it brings up the association you had while you wrote this entry.
20. Write about your dreams, hopes, desires, longings
I dream of being free from my past. I hope I have the courage to quit the job I hate.
This shows an example of how to write about what touches your most inner emotions. A travel journal doesn’t have to be only about your travel experiences but can also include personal dreams, wishes and hopes for your own life.
21. Write about your personal doubts, fears, weaknesses
I am afraid of returning home because only when I travel I feel happy.
This is the opposite example of writing about the negative sides of your life. As mentioned before, your travel journal is your own personal book where you can fully let your mind wander.
22. Write about yourself and how you transformed while you traveled
This is the overall message: your travel journal is your person of trust.
Don’t miss out writing about everything that is buzzing in your head. Every change that you recognized about yourself. Record your inner progress and how you achieved it.
23. Write your thoughts about certain topics down
What does life mean to me? What does happiness mean to me? Do I believe in destiny?
There are certain topics, call them philosophical questions, that should be discussed in a dialogue with your own self. Instead of talking with yourself, talk with your journal.
24. Write about wanderlust
Why do I have this urge to travel? Why can’t I stand still and have to move on permanently?
As your travel journal deals with everything that inspires you while traveling, collect quotes, stories and personal thoughts that remind you of wanderlust.
25. Write on the road about the road
We travel because we have a love affair with the road.
If that’s all, why do we almost never write about the road, your lover? Writing about the road while we’re on the road can involve several different aspects. They can be good and bad. When the road becomes a true inspiration but also when it turns into a hardship. Walking on the road is both: hope and faith but also exhaustion and melancholy.
26. Write about your past
How was life before I traveled? What was my main trigger to leave everything behind and embark on a far journey?
Your travel journal doesn’t have to start at point zero. When you made your first step. The entries can be mixed up wildly without following a certain timeline.
27. Write about personal moments as if you would write into a diary
Some people call it journal, others call it diary.
It doesn’t matter how you call it. The only thing that matters is that you don’t objectify the book of your life. This is your very personal record of all your feelings, hopes, dreams and fears. Share all your inner motions with your book.
28. Write about intimate moments
How did the kiss with the stranger feel? How did his lips taste?
Share very affectionate moments with your travel journal. Never let there be a barrier between your intimate thoughts and the confidence to write them down.
29. Take care of your travel journals and don’t lose them
When you reach the last page of your travel journal, you’ll feel an incredible satisfaction.
Documenting your travels, is hard work. Be proud of your perseverance and creative mind. Make sure to store all your journals in a place where you will find them again. Especially when you move away, take them with you.
30. Read through your entries and walk down the memory lane
One day the moment will come when you take one of your travel journals into your hands. The moment of truth.
This can be in 10, 20 or 30 years. While you go through your entries, the memories will sparkle in your mind and put a smile on your lips.
If you followed all my tips on how to create a unique travel journal, there is a big chance you will never forget a single moment of your travel adventures.