Only recently have we both started to keep travel journals. After documenting our 4-month-long trip in our journals, we both wondered why we had never kept one before. Depending on what you want to get out of them, travel journals can be nostalgic keepsakes or guides for future trips. They’re also great if you’re documenting your trip on say a travel blog! But the benefits of keeping a travel journal don’t stop there.
Here are 5 reasons why we feel every traveler should keep a travel journal.
Travel journals can be used to store more than just your writing. Laura, for example, kept daily accounts with pamphlets, pictures, currency, menus, drawings, maps, ticket stubs, business cards, etc. Now when we look back at her journal we can read what we did but also see visuals from that specific trip. More often than not these visuals help us to relive that day, bringing the memories back to life!
When we were in Venice, for example, we would pack our lunches and go out for the day to walk. One day, a couple of pigeons kept following us around. One even let Laura feed it in mid-flight! It was fun remembering and it brought back that excitement we felt feeding a bird while it was flying. We had completely forgotten about this until we went back and looked at our journal for this article! This is just one of many things we would have otherwise never remembered.
Keeping a travel journal will help you remember your trip, big and small experiences alike!
2. References & Tips
Since returning from our big trip, we have had many friends and family ask us for references. Usually they are planning a trip to one of the places we stayed and want to know about our experience. It has been wonderful just to open up our journal and look back at where we stayed, where we ate, and attractions that we visited (and even sometimes what it cost). These experiences usually prove helpful, however, the more granular details are the best references you can give someone.
For example, we may have loved going on a specific tour and it’s great to be able to pass on our tour guide’s name and the tour company, the phone number and email address of the contact we booked our trip through, and exactly what it cost us so our friends know what to look for.
Another great thing about having a journal is being able to give tips to people. We have learned a lot of tips throughout our travels and wrote them down — tips that we might have otherwise forgot about. We remembered visiting the Vatican Museum but forgot (until we looked back at our notes) that there was a line around the block and if you don’t buy tickets in advance, you too will be in that line!
Or about the time we visited Milan and didn’t know we had to get tickets to The Last Supper at least a week in advance, so we missed it! These are some specific tips that people are grateful to receive when traveling. Your friends will be happy you wrote down specifics, but so will you, if you chose to go back and visit again!
3. Important Travel Information
In addition to memories acquired on our trip, Laura used her travel journal to hold a lot of important travel information. It held our itinerary, hotel info, flight info, departure/arrival times, tour company contact information, and much more. When arriving at passport control and customs all foreign passengers must list where they’ll be staying, including the address and phone number. Sometimes they even ask for the tour company you are using. It was wonderful to know where all the information was when it was needed.
This is something that can be often overlooked. You may print out all of your confirmations for flights, hotels, or tours, but don’t know where or if an address or phone number is listed. It’s nice to have this information organized and easy to access while you’re on the go. It is nice to have those printouts too, but they shouldn’t be used as you’re primary source of information for your trip. Record it in advance in your travel journal!
4. Emergency Contacts
Along with having the hotel and tour company’s contact information, it’s important that you also keep your emergency contact information in your travel journal. And if you’re traveling with other people, keep theirs as well (and give them yours). You should also write out the local embassy phone numbers, your credit card company’s phone number, and your travel insurance company’s information (with your policy number).
We hope that you never have to access this emergency contact information, but in the event that something does occur, it’s a relief to know that you won’t be scrambling to find phone or policy numbers. It will all be located in one convenient location. If you are traveling with someone, it’s important to let them know exactly where they can find this information.
5. Cultural Guides
There are so many possibilities of things you can add to your travel journal. One we chose to add to ours is a cultural guide to whichever country we were visiting. This included things like what the currency exchange rate was while we were there; Visa requirements and cost; tipping etiquette; table manners; cultural etiquette; and basic language and phrases. We found this extremely useful to have as a quick reference whenever we were unsure of something.
In a couple of countries we were traveling with friends, and they kept asking us, “What is the tipping etiquette here?” Or, “How do you say thank you?” Not only were the people we were traveling with thankful that we had all this information at our fingertips, but locals also appreciated that we took the time and energy to learn about their culture. It doesn’t take a lot to make a big impression!
We Will Always Keep a Travel Journal!
We loved having our travel journals with us during and after our travels. Laura uses the Leuchtturm Dotted Journals, while Dax uses Moleskine Classic Notebooks. Keeping a travel journal helped us get to where we were going, kept track of our travels, and even allowed us to be able to share our memories with others. We can’t imagine not keeping one in the future!
What are some of your favorite things to keep in your travel journal?
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