Here at Yop & Tom we don’t believe there’s a perfect time to start a journal. All that really matters, is that you put pen to paper. But if we had to pick one? It’d be whilst travelling.
When you’re surrounded by inspiration, creative juices overflowing, creating daily memories you want to last a lifetime… it’s easy for your travel journal to be overflowing.
But sometimes, all that inspiration can feel a bit overwhelming. Where do you start? What do you write down? And more importantly, what do you leave out? Turns out, travel journaling was our co-founderTom’s first experience of journaling. So we sat down to ask him all your burning questions.
Tom’s story of travel journaling (before Instagram!)
“I first tried travel journaling when I went away at 18 with my friend for 6 months. We travelled across some of the Pacific Islands, New Zealand, Australia and up through South East Asia, exploring Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.
We both decided to keep a travel journal on a whim really. It was before the days of Instagram and other ways of documenting your trip so it seemed like a good idea.And I’m so pleased I did! All these years later, I’ve forgotten a lot of the details of the trip and my travel journals are a great insight into the trip and me at 18 (which is equal parts funny and embarrassing)!
Tom and his friend in New Zealand 2005
My now wife and I then did another longer trip - 7 months in 2017/18 through South and Central America - and again we kept travel journals. This time I knew how much I liked to look back at my journals so it was an easy decision to keep one for this trip too.
If your memory is like mine then you will be amazed what you have forgotten. It’s normally the little details that trigger the full memories.”
This is why travelling is the perfect time to start your journal
Here’s the big question - does travel journaling mean you’re going to spend hours and hours writing each day, when you’re already tired at the end of a big day?
The quick answer is no! Your travel journal is yours to shape in your own unique way (just like your bullet journalis). Some days, you might feel inspired to write for pages and pages. Other days, you’ll just get out a few bullet points before you forget.
“Part of the fun of travelling is the lack of structure and routine. But I found that having something that you do every day actually gives you time and space to take in what you’re experiencing. It helps you remember both at the time and when you look back later.
The little details that don’t seem important at the time are some of my favourite things to look back on whether it’s the small street stalls me and my wife ate at in Guatemala or some of the characters we met.
Travel journaling helps you to really take in what you are experiencing. Plus, I find it helps to clear my head and keep me grounded. Having a travel journal companion can be a great place to escape from the hustle and bustle of travelling.”
Try these travel journal ideas out for your next trip
Just like any form of journaling, the key with travel journaling is to find the style that works for you. If you hate writing but love sketching, writing out reams of pages probably won’t be your thing. But sketching a scene from your day might be!
The key is to find a format that works for you and then use it to log a few core memories from each day.
Here are some travel journal ideas to inspire you:
Daily journaling - this is a more traditional journaling style, writing your thoughts and experiences each day. You’ll log what you did, what you saw and who you met.
Emotive journaling- this is less about what you saw but more about how you felt. It seeks to capture the emotions of each day, sparking that same feeling years later.
Scrapbook journaling - this creates a home for all your mementoes. From plane tickets to museum entry passes, every little thing comes with its own memory.
Illustrative journaling - if you always choose drawing over writing, this is for you. You’ll sketch a scene or a moment from your day, and use that to log your experience
Minimalist journaling - on days when you don’t feel like writing, this is for you. You’ll simply write down a few short bullet points on what you did, where you went and what you ate. That’s it!
20 travel journaling prompts to get you started
When we asked Tom for his one big tip for your new travel journal, this is what he had to say:
“Just write down what comes to you, what you think is menial now may be interesting later whether the small restaurant you ate at, the person you met or the bus or train you got. It allows you to disconnect from the day to day hustle and bustle of traveling and escape into your own world.”
Where are you going today? Write down or draw the journey you’ve got planned
What’s in your suitcase? What have you packed? What didn’t you need? And what do you wish you’d brought?
How do you feel about this trip? Did you feel nervous before departing?
What was your journey like? What did you see along the way? Who did you speak to? What did you eat?
Where are you staying tonight? What do you love about it? What little quirks does it have? What didn’t you expect (heads up - sometimes the best travel stories are when things don’t go to plan, like accommodation that doesn’t live up to expectations!)
What did you do today?
What sights and sounds did you experience whilst you were exploring today? Close your eyes and relive your day again
What new scents or smells have you noticed that feel different to home?
What have you eaten? Did you try a new dish? Have you eaten any foods that you expected to be the same as at home but were actually totally different?
What are the locals like?
Go and explore a local supermarket. What do you notice?
What went wrong today?!
What didn’t go to plan but made you smile or created a new memory?
What was your biggest surprise from today?
Tell the story of one person you met or saw today. Or, what do you imagine it to be?
What do you think your life would be like if you lived here?
What’s one thing or experience you want to take home with you?
How do you feel about going home?
What new sounds have you heard? Have you listened to new music or the radio, heard different accents, or eavesdropped on any conversations?
What’s your core memory from today?
Feeling inspired to start your own travel journal? We hope so! By now you should have everything you need to get started. Be sure to tag us on social media and share your trip!
Get yourself a travel journal so bold and bright you’ll always know it’s yours