When you write things by hand, you activate a unique neural pathway in your brain. This pathway is linked to your ability to learn and remember things — which makes travel journal prompts not just useful in the moment, but great for committing the highlights of your trip to memory.
There are countless reasons to keep a travel journal. You might love the process of journaling, and have no desire to look at your journal once it’s complete. Or you might be taking notes so you can turn your experience into a series of blog posts once you get back home. Whether it’s public or private, wild or organized, short or long, your travel journal can help you get the most out of your trip.
And with the right travel journal prompts, you can record your experiences in precisely the way you’d most like to remember them. Read on to find out which travel journal prompts you should try, plus our favorite ways to use them!
Why Keep a Travel Journal?
If you’ve never written a travel journal before, you might be wondering what the benefits are. Here are a few reasons why you should try putting travel journal prompts into action on your next trip.
Improves Your Memory
Some people never forget an experience, but others struggle to recall the details. As mentioned above, physically writing things down can help you remember things better.
Since you’re forced to be selective about what you write, your brain makes a more significant effort to commit that information to memory. This is useful for remembering words in a new language or how to get around a new city, as well as for remembering your trip overall.
And as time goes by, you’re sure to forget some of the details of your trip. When you look back at your travel journal, all of those details you’d forgotten will come rushing back into your mind
Helps With Networking
Sometimes, you meet amazing people when you travel. They can become future friends, travel companions, or even coworkers. But when you just add their contact information to your phone or follow them on social media, it’s easy to forget to follow up.
Taking notes in a travel journal instead ensures you’ll remember exactly who you met, where you met them, and what you can talk about when you reach out. You can even glue people’s business cards into your travel journal, so you don’t lose them!
Kills Time And Reduces Stress
When you’re traveling, you often have a lot of downtime. It can be stressful to find yourself on a long plane ride with nothing to read or in an unfamiliar train station with an hour to wait. Writing, doodling, or even just reading your travel journal helps you get through those times. It also gives you a place to express any stress, worry, or frustration, so you can process it and move on.
Our Favorite Travel Journal Prompts
Sometimes, the hardest part about starting a travel journal is just knowing what to say. Keeping a few travel journal prompts on hand will ensure that you never run out of things to write about. Try these travel journal prompts or get inspired to make up your own!
What will it be like when I get there?
Your travel journal experience can start before you leave. We love travel journal prompts that involve speculation and imagination. Try writing down what you expect from your trip, what you think the country will be like, or what you hope to experience.
You can even write down things like why you’re going on your trip. Sometimes, you might have an idea of your purpose. But you’ll gain a deeper understanding of it from the process of writing it down. Or, you could use your journal as a planning tool. Write down your ideal itinerary. Or compose a list of things you want to do and your travel plans to get to each one.
If you feel stuck on the creative aspect of journaling, just writing this basic information can help get the words flowing.
What do I see? Smell? Hear? Feel? Taste?
The five senses all make great travel journal prompts. Without trying to make it anything creative or profound, you can just start by writing down your sensory experiences. Sometimes, this will inspire you to say more, such as writing the whole story behind that experience. Other times, it can merely serve as a record to help you remember the trip when you get back home
What did I eat today?
Springboarding from the idea of writing about your senses, you can actually turn part (or all) of your travel journal into a food journal. This is especially great for passionate foodies and people who love to cook. Writing about your food can also inspire you to learn about the ingredients or ask for recipes to try at home.
What am I unhappy about?
The myth that every trip needs to be perfect and joyous the whole time can get in the way of your real enjoyment. Difficulty is part of travel, too. Sometimes the challenges are ultimately what you learn the most from.
Don’t feel pressured to make your travel journal reflect only the good parts of your trip. Instead, permit yourself to rant, express frustration, or talk about homesickness. Writing down your problems can help you work through them, find new solutions, or just get a negative feeling off your chest.
What did I learn today?
You’re guaranteed to learn new things when you travel. It could be a new word, a new neighborhood, a new bus route, or a new historical fact. Just listing what you learned will fill your travel journal up with useful, exciting stuff!
What am I wearing?
If you love fashion, you can make that a focus of your travel journal. Try using fashion-focused travel journal prompts, such as documenting your outfits or new clothes you bought. You can also write down what you notice about the local style. Culture is often expressed in the way people dress, so this can help you get to know the local culture in a more profound way.
What did I do today?
When you get writer’s block, start by simply listing your activities of the day. This list will often turn into a beautifully detailed record of your experience as your creative mind warms up. But even if you don’t turn it into a creative storytelling exercise, this will help imprint the things you did in your memory.
What words describe today?
Sometimes, you don’t have the time or focus for whole paragraphs or even sentences. You can give an impression of a day, a place, or an experience just by listing the words that come to mind when you think of it. Don’t censor yourself: Try writing down the first words that pop into your head in a list form. You’ll have a fascinating record of your first impressions to look back on.
What’s going on in the world?
Writing down the highlights of global (or local) news can help you see interesting parallels between your trip and what’s happening worldwide. It can also help you better understand what’s happening locally since people might be reacting to what’s happening in the news. Keeping up with the news online is easy. But if you can, try picking up a local newspaper for a different perspective.
What can I add to my journal besides writing?
While journaling tends to center on writing, your journal can have visual and even three-dimensional components too! Consider gluing in other items, like train tickets, postcards, dried flowers, maps, local newspaper clippings, and more. Get creative and use your writing to give context to the things you add.
What advice would I give someone else about this trip?
Struggling with travel journal prompts that make it feel like you’re talking to yourself? Try writing your memoir as a travel guide for a friend instead. Think about what you would tell someone who was planning to visit the same place. This could include everything from local recommendations to advice on what not to do.
What would I do differently next time?
Travel journals are great places for reflection. You can use your travel journal prompts to cover how you would change things next time, as well as what you liked. It can be as simple as noting what you forgot to pack that would have been useful. This will help you turn any negative experiences into positives by using that information to help you on a future trip.
How has this trip changed me?
Did your perspective on something — even something small — change during your trip? Did you learn something unforgettable? Will you change the way you travel in the future? If you changed or grew in small or large ways, try writing them down. Remember: You can keep using travel journal prompts even after you get back home.
Getting The Most Out Of Travel Journal Prompts
Your travel journal may never be seen by anyone but you — so don’t be afraid to make it exactly what you want. Use the travel journal prompts that speak to you and ignore the rest. Come up with your own prompts. Or try writing unfiltered, prompt-free, stream-of-consciousness thoughts for a while.
Even if you never reread your travel journal, you’ll get the benefits of increased memory and learning through handwriting. You’ll notice that the trip stays fresher in your mind, with the details easier to recall. Soon, those vivid memories might have you wanting to take another trip or even move abroad.
If you want to live in another country for an extended period someday, your travel journal will help — and don’t miss our guide to moving abroad!
Have you ever kept a travel journal before? Did it help you remember your trip more vividly or help you prepare better for the next one? Tell us about your travel journal experiences in the comments below.